Senator Murray Announces $200,000 Funding Increase for Northwest Straits

Nov 13 2001

$950,000 for North Puget Sound will restore, protect marine environments

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) today announced that Congress has committed a total of $950,000 for the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative through two Appropriations Conference Reports. One conference report is on its way to the President to be signed into law, while the other is awaiting a final vote of both Houses of Congress.

The Conference Report for the fiscal year 2002 Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary (CJSJ) bill, which is likely to be approved this week, contains $700,000 for the Northwest Straits. The fiscal year 2002 VA-HUD bill contains $250,000 for the effort is to be signed by the President. Last year, the Northwest Straits Initiative received a total of $750,000 in federal funding.

"I am pleased that Congress has demonstrated its support for our fragile marine environment by increasing funding for the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative," said Murray. "This highly successful, locally driven environmental initiative deserves more federal support. This program proves that when people come together to solve problems, the results can be extraordinary."

In 1998, Senator Murray and former Congressman Jack Metcalf (R-Wash.) convened a citizen's panel to look at ways to protect environmental resources in the Northwest Straits. Based on the panel's findings, Congress authorized the organization of the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative.

"The Commission is doing outstanding work. Its member are creating marine protected areas, assessing fish habitats, sponsoring research and increasing environmental awareness," Murray said. "This funding increase will allow an even more aggressive effort to protect this fragile ecosystem."

The Northwest Straits Commission consists of 13 appointees: one from each of seven counties involved, along with appointees of the Governor and the Department of the Interior. Each county has created a Marine Resources Committee (MRC) to draw input from local governments, tribes, conservationists, scientists and business. Over 100 people are participating in the seven MRCs to protect and restore marine resources in North Puget Sound.

"This is exactly the type of grassroots, collaborative effort needed to restore salmon and other declining fisheries," Senator Murray added.