Murray Secures Funding for Southwest Washington in Senate Appropriations Bill

Nov 05 2003

Columbia River Dredging, Columbia Estuary Restoration, Ports of Chinook & Ilwaco

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray has secured important funding for Southwest Washington environmental and economic development improvements in the House-Senate Energy & Water Appropriations bill. The bill passed out of conference today.

Murray secured $3.5 million in the conference report to help dredge the Columbia River from Portland to the mouth of the river. The dredging effort, led by the Army Corps of Engineers, will enable larger shipping traffic up the Columbia, thereby increasing the capacity for exports and creating more jobs and economic development in Southwest Washington. The Ports of Vancouver, Longview, Woodland, Kalama, St. Helens, and Portland are supporting the dredging. Murray secured $5 million in the original Senate version of the bill and the House, in its bill, provided $2 million for the same project. The final figure coming out of conference negotiations is $3.5 million.

The funding for Columbia River dredging is especially significant considering the President’s 2004 budget request for the entire Army Corps of Engineers was $445 million less than the current fiscal year budget. Murray worked closely with and supported her Republican colleague, Chairman Pete Domenici and ranking Democrat, Senator Harry Reid, in the successful effort to restore $288 million to the Corps’ budget. This increase made possible many Northwest funding priorities that were not in the President’s budget.

“Improving the Columbia River will mean more jobs and economic development for our region. I am proud to have led the fight for this critical funding in the Senate and continue to hope that dredging will become a priority for the Administration, as well,” Murray said.

Murray also secured $2 million for the Lower Columbia Estuary project to help restore salmon runs in the Columbia River Basin. These federal funds will go toward habitat restoration projects in the estuary which is an important ecosystem for all Basin salmon prior to migrating out to the ocean.

“Restoring salmon runs is a top Northwest priority that is critical to our region’s heritage and way of life,” Murray said. “We cannot abandon the progress that has been made toward restoring salmon to our rivers.”

At Murray’s request the bill also contains $500,000 for dredging the Port of Chinook and $350,000 for dredging at the nearby Port of Ilwaco. Senator Murray assured the Port of Chinook would remain open during this fall and winter’s fishing season by convincing the Corps’ to reprogram current year funds to begin immediate dredging. The new funds will continue the work.