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Salmon Funding Restored, Thanks to Risch, Crapo

President rescinds budget cuts to Pacific Coastal Recovery Fund

June 1, 2009

Washington, DC. - Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have successfully convinced the Obama Administration to restore $50 million in funding to restore Northwest salmon. The President and his staff responded to requests from Crapo, Risch and others in the Pacific Northwest to an original Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposal that would have zeroed out the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Program.

"Idaho is home to half of the critical spawning habitat for salmon, and the federal government must maintain its commitment to restoring sustainable, fishable populations of salmon and steelhead," said Senator Crapo. "This program has provided improved habitat across our state, including in tributaries to the Salmon River, such as the Pahsimeroi, and has cemented collaborative efforts among landowners, conservationists and local leaders to help recover salmon. The President and his staff are to be commended for reviewing our request to restore this funding and approving it."

"I am not willing to give up on salmon recovery efforts. This program is working and it must receive funding if we are to continue with habitat improvements for salmon," said Senator Risch. "I opposed efforts to abandon the recovery of sockeye salmon in 2006 and I will continue to oppose cuts for salmon and steelhead habitat recovery."

The letter sent by the Senators and Representatives noted a half-million acres of habitat has been restored by the Pacific Coastal Recovery Fund. More than 3500 miles of stream have been reopened for habitat.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear Director Orszag, Secretary Locke and Administrator Lubchenco:

We are writing today to express our deep disappointment that the President's Fiscal Year 2010 budget request eliminates the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) and to request a budget amendment to restore this critical program funding.

The PCSRF was created by Congress in Fiscal Year 2000 to address the need to protect, restore and conserve Pacific salmon and steelhead, and their habitat in the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Alaska, and Nevada.

On the West Coast and especially in the Pacific Northwest, salmon are part of our heritage, our culture and our economy. Salmon are a link to our past, and it will require a generational effort to recover these iconic species. The PCSRF takes that long view, and focuses on measurable results.

Past program funding has resulted in impressive accomplishments in local and state salmon recovery efforts. Federal funding, together with state and local resources, has allowed local citizens and officials to initiate thousands of restoration and conservation projects, including hatchery reform, within our states. In 2008, every federal dollar spent on this program leveraged about 2 local and state dollars.

The majority of these projects, developed using a "bottom up" approach, focus on direct improvements to habitat for salmon and steelhead, resulting in more than 500,000 acres of restored habitat, and approximately 3,575 opened stream miles. This form of citizen involvement is exactly the type of commitment needed to succeed in protecting and restoring these important species of fish that are so integral to the economic and ecological well-being of our states.

Funds have also been used for on-the-ground restoration projects, ranging from culvert replacement at single sites to erosion control over large areas, and have generated hundreds of jobs for unemployed timber workers while producing additional economic benefits over time as they contribute to the recovery of commercially and recreationally important species. In particular, the jobs produced by road decommissioning, re-vegetation efforts and fish passage projects represent valuable employment opportunities in today's depressed job market.

The National Marine Fisheries Service developed and implemented six program performance goals and numerous performance measures that are monitored on an annual basis to assure federal and state funds are being used responsibly and effectively. Real progress toward salmon recovery is being made, as noted in the 2008 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Report to Congress on the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund; "Through the PCSRF and efforts and contributions of state and tribal partners, progress is being made in the overall recovery of Pacific salmon and steelhead. Continued commitment, collaboration and resources are required to achieve the overarching goal of full recovery and sustainability."

Recovering our salmon populations to continue our way of life, and put our fishermen back to work is a challenge that we on the West Coast take seriously, and we remain committed to its success. We look forward to working with you to correct this elimination and restore the program funding.

We look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Those who signed the letter include: Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch; Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada); Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (both (D-Washington); Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (both D-Oregon); Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska); Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-California) and Representatives Brian Baird, Norm Dicks, Jay Inslee, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith (all D-Washington); Representative Dave Reichert (R-Washington); Representatives Peter DeFazio, David Wu, Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader (all D-Oregon); Representative Greg Walden (R-Oregon); Representatives Lynn Woolsey, George Miller, Lois Capps, Sam Farr, Jackie Speier, Mike Thompson, and Anna Eshoo (all D-California).