(Washington, D.C.) – Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included $1.7 million in funding to help protect and restore the marine waters, habitats and species of the Northwest Straits region. The funding will support local project priorities in Clallam, Island, Jefferson, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties. The funding was included in the 2008 Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill. Senator Murray is a member of the Appropriations Committee.

"The Northwest Straits Initiative is a grass-roots effort with a proven track record," Murray stated.  "This funding will help support stewardship and restoration projects that are based on sound science and community based decision-making.  Restoring and protecting the Northwest Straits is a priority for Washington state, and I am proud to provide federal support."

Ginny Broadhurst, Interim Director of the Northwest Straits Commission applauded Murray's efforts, "We are grateful for Senator Murray's support and recognition of our work.  The Northwest Straits Initiative is working locally with citizens and businesses to protect and restore the marine waters of the Northwest Straits.  We are making huge strides building community stewardship and improving the health of the waters for people to enjoy."

The Northwest Straits Initiative's goal is to achieve restoration and protection of marine habitat in the straits to achieve ecosystem health and sustainable resource use.  The Northwest Straits Commission designs and initiates projects based on sound science that includes community input and recommendations.  The Commission is attempting to maintain and expand its diverse membership, and in particular is expanding partnerships with tribal governments and continuing to foster respect for tribal cultures and treaties.

In 1997, Senator Murray helped found the Initiative, bringing opposing stakeholders together, to create an advisory commission that would address local issues. At a time when few thought the experiment would work, their coordinated efforts created an innovative model of restoring and protecting marine habitats. As a result, the Northwest Straits Commission was created a year later as the best approach to restoring the marine resources of the Northwest Straits.

Since 1998, Senator Murray has helped secure over $6.8 million for the Northwest Straits Initiative.

The CJS Appropriations bill was passed out of committee today.  It will now move to the Senate floor for deliberation by the full Senate.