Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, this morning we are considering H.R. 1157, the Pacific Salmon Recovery Act. This bill was introduced by the gentleman from California (Mr. THOMPSON) with 65 cosponsors. The gentleman from California (Mr. Thompson) introduced a similar bill last Congress, H.R. 2798. That bill passed the House twice, once as a stand-alone bill and once as part of H.R. 5086, a bill including a number of fishery provisions.
Unfortunately, the other body never took up the measure.
Except for some technical changes, H.R. 1157 has the same text as H.R. 2798. This bill would authorize the Secretary of Commerce to provide financial assistance to the States of Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington for salmon restoration and habitat restoration projects in coastal waters and upland drainages.
Habitat restoration is one of the most important factors in rebuilding endangered species populations, and especially endangered salmon populations. While the Federal Government has been working with local and regional groups to develop a recovery plan for the listed salmon, steelhead and trout species, there is still a great deal to do. The support of State projects is critical to the survival of listed species of salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout. In some cases, the State and local governments
often do a better job than the Federal Government. Local input is very important in order to direct funding to local restoration projects.
This bill will allow the States to focus the money they receive on areas and projects that need the most attention.
Small projects like replacing culverts and restoring stream flows may actually open up large areas of spawning habitat for little cost. Those are the projects that can be identified and undertaken by local governments and may provide the most benefit to the listed salmon, steelhead and trout. The States will be making their own decisions and can complement Federal restoration programs already in place.
I would encourage the local people and the Federal people to take off their [Page: H3083]
Federal hats, take off their local hats, and put their hearts and mind together and get the job done.
I will note that there is currently an authorization in place through Public Law 106-553, the District of Columbia fiscal year 2001 appropriations bill. However, there are differences in the two authorizations. First, the States are only required to match 25 percent in Public Law 106-553 versus a 100 percent match in H.R. 1157 for funds received by the State.
Finally, the current authorization does not include the State of Idaho, while H.R. 1157 does.
This is a good piece of legislation that addresses the conservation needs of salmon, steelhead and trout species residing along the Pacific Coast and Alaska. It is a noncontroversial bill which has a tremendous amount of bipartisan support, with cosponsors, including many Members interested in salmon restoration and those Members range from the gentleman from Alaska (Mr. YOUNG), to the gentleman from California (Mr. GEORGE MILLER).
I urge Members to vote aye on H.R. 1157.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, I am happy to rise in support of H.R. 1157, a great bill that has been introduced by our colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. Thompson). Basically, it authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to provide financial assistance to the States of Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington for salmon habitat restoration projects in coastal waters and upland drainages. As many of our colleagues are aware, there is more than 25 species of salmon on the West Coast right
now that have been listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Several more are currently under consideration for listing.
In 1999, the States of Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington proposed to tackle this crisis with a coast-wide salmon restoration effort, conservation effort, that would allocate $50 million of Federal funds to each State for 6 years to support salmon conservation. An habitat restoration project was very important at a regional and local level. In response to this request, Congress established the Pacific Salmon Recovery Fund and appropriated $58 million for these purposes in the fiscal year
2000 and $90 million in fiscal year 2001.
In Washington State, our funds are allocated by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, also known as the SURF Board, one of the great acronyms of all times, which is operated by William Ruckelshaus, a name I think is familiar to many.
The local regional project supported by the Pacific Salmon Recovery Fund will restore habitats and help stem the continued decline of the salmon populations on the West Coast. H.R. 1157 authorizes the activities that will be carried out using the appropriations in this fund; requires States and tribes to develop a conservation and restoration plan. To receive grants, it specifies the activities that are eligible to receive funding. It requires a one-to-one match of any Federal dollars that are
provided and it thereby doubles their conservation efforts, a really good feature of the bill.
Finally, it adds Idaho, a great State, to the list of States that would participate in the program.
Mr. Chairman, in my own State of Washington, this program will enable us to work in conjunction with funding from the Puget Sound Initiative, a bipartisan bill I helped pass last year which authorizes the Army Corps of Engineers to use their expertise in designing community-based habitat restoration projects.
In King County, money appropriated to the funds has already been used to acquire 93 acres of land along Bear Creek, which includes a large wetland, a beautiful little area in my district, salmonid spawning areas and large beds of freshwater mussels, the noninvasive type, I may add.
King County also acquired 172 acres at several high priority habitats along the Snoqualmie River watershed.
The acquisitions focused primarily on the spawning areas in the Snoqualmie Basin, which are very important.
With future funds, we will be looking to provide more protection for salmon habitat along the Cedar River, which is the watershed feeding Seattle. This area has long been known for its critical habitat values, and has everything that salmon need to thrive. In addition to Chinook, sockeye and coho salmon, steelhead will also benefit from this newly protected area in the years to come.
H.R. 57 is a great bill. It will ensure these projects will continue. It is supported by the Governors of all five States, the tribes, fishermen and the environmental community. While the administration has not provided an official position on this bill, it has requested $100 million for Pacific Salmon Recovery Fund in fiscal year 2002 budget submission. That is good news, and I urge Members to support it today.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. THOMPSON of California. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time. I would like to also thank the gentleman from Idaho (Mr. SIMPSON) for his help on this bill; the chairman of the committee, the gentleman from Utah (Mr. HANSEN); the ranking member, the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. RAHALL); and the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) and the gentleman from Guam (Mr. UNDERWOOD) from the subcommittee that helped make this bill possible
to be heard on the floor today. I would also like to thank all the staff that worked diligently to make sure this good bill was here.
Mr. Chairman, in California virtually every salmon spawning habitat has been altered by human activities, such as water diversions, dam building, overfishing and urban development. In many streams and rivers, the alterations have been so severe that fish can no longer return to their historical spawning areas. As a result, almost 80 percent of the salmon caught commercially in the Pacific Northwest and in northern California today come from hatcheries.
My bill will authorize $40 million per year for 5 years for California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho. The money will be distributed to the State agencies after an MOU has been approved by the Secretary of Commerce. It is designed to prioritize salmon recovery, provide a criteria for measuring success, and promote projects that are scientifically based and cost effective.
The States and the local governments will receive funds on a 50-50 cost-share basis for these restoration projects. This will double the amount of money spent and the amount of work that can be done to enhance this important purpose.
Salmon species are very much a part of the culture of the Pacific Northwest. Many of the port towns in my district on the north coast, such as Point Arena, Fort Bragg, Eureka, and Crescent City, were founded around the commercial fishing industry. Many of these towns have been devastated by the collapse of salmon populations.
Over the last 30 years, the salmon fishery closures in these areas have contributed to the loss of nearly 75,000 jobs. Private landowners, conservation groups, and industry have already committed a significant amount of resources to aid in the reversal of this decline. But the efforts are not sufficient. In fact, species are still declining. Recovery efforts must be stepped up, and they must be stepped up now.
By restoring our salmon populations, we can lessen the burden on industry and private landowners. By bringing back the salmon, the fishing industry economy will rise; and eventually the ESA regulations can be lifted. More importantly, if we restore salmon populations, future generations, like their ancestors, can enjoy and prosper from a great national treasure.
The Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Act of 2001 not only enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, but also the support of a diverse organizational structure, such as the American Homebuilders, the California Farm Bureau, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen.
I urge my colleagues to support this important measure and pass the Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Act today.
Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. Chairman, let me first applaud the gentleman from California (Mr. Thompson), the gentleman from Washington (Mr. INSLEE), and the gentleman from Maryland (Chairman GILCHREST) for their efforts on this important bill and for protecting this valuable resource.
I am a strong supporter of H.R. 1157, the Pacific Salmon Recovery Act. This measure would provide significant assistance to the Northwestern States and tribal and local governments involved in salmon management recovery and conservation activities.
The salmon populations are economic and wildlife resources whose preservation is our national responsibility. As such, the recovery of salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest is of great importance to the ecological, recreational, and economic future of the region.
The recovery of our salmon populations are important to the once-thriving commercial salmon fishery business, which is dwindling as a result of a decline in salmon population. This has left the industry crippled. Thus, by protecting healthy salmon runs and those of other species, we can possibly revive what was once a sustainable fishing industry in the region. Once there were 12,000 jobs in this industry. Would it not be great if we could move towards restoring many of those jobs?
These activities, coupled with a revival of the recreation industry, provide for a potential increase in commercial and recreational fishing, which can provide the region with new opportunities for economic growth.
Our efforts are also an important part of our commitment to honoring our treaty obligations with Native American tribes and with Canada. It is important to emphasize that, in passing this bill, we will take a significant step in honoring our treaty obligations. The history of the United States is replete with unfulfilled promises. As a Nation, we must remedy this by setting new precedents and taking steps to honor our commitments.
The potential cost of litigation, should Canada or the tribes contest the treaties in court, could be enormous. Some observers estimate that attorney fees, potential damage awards and/or a settlement based upon a failure to maintain a viable salmon population could exceed $10 billion.
Mr. Chairman, we must act now to preserve this magnificent national resource. By passing this measure, we take a necessary step in moving the salmon further from extinction. It is an action that makes sense for the ecosystem, the economy, the nations and tribes with whom we have treaty obligations; and most importantly, it allows us to pursue a balanced approach to preserving this national resource.
Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1157, not only because I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, but because I have lived all of my adult life in California along the coast and know how important the Pacific Salmon Recovery Act will be and how much support we must give it.
I want to commend the gentleman from California (Mr. THOMPSON) for his hard work to bring this bill to the floor and to my colleagues, the gentleman from Washington (Mr. INSLEE) and the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST), for their work and support.
Mr. Chairman, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this bill, because, like the three gentleman that I just mentioned, I and our Pacific Coast colleagues in a very bipartisan manner know that salmon are in trouble.
Over the past decade, we have witnessed a huge decline in salmon population, and the listing of salmon on the endangered species list is a clear warning that we must take this seriously. That is why communities and local officials in my district of Marin and Sonoma Counties, just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge in California, are actively supporting Federal efforts to help with salmon restoration.
We are fortunate that Marin and Sonoma Counties combined have received almost $850,000 from the current salmon recovery initiative, which was formed under President Clinton; and even better, these Federal dollars are available and are being leveraged at State, local, and nonprofit levels for resources that will bolster the recovery efforts even further than that $850,000.
Next month, these Federal funds will begin to bear fruit. I do not think I should say that. They will begin to bear fish, not fruit. Projects that are under way will eventually return our salmon runs to their former abundance.
For example, the Kelly Road Stabilization Project in my district will help stop erosion from going into the nearby waterways that harm salmon habitat. Also in Sonoma County, [Page: H3085]
through the county ecology center, a program will focus on bringing private landowners, government agencies, and environmental groups together to work on restoration efforts.
Other exciting habitat restoration efforts in my district that are getting under way include the Lagunitas Sediment Management Project, the Willow Creek Restoration Project, and work on Pine Gulch Creek.
Mr. Chairman, expanding habitat restoration efforts is a key component of any recovery effort, but we all know that money is another key ingredient to making these programs happen. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
Mr. LARSEN of Washington. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 1157.
I want to first off thank my colleagues, the gentleman from California (Mr. Thompson) and the gentleman from Washington (Mr. INSLEE), on this side of the aisle, for the work they have done on the issue, and my colleagues, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) and the gentleman from Idaho (Mr. SIMPSON), for the hard work they have done as well on this issue. I am pleased to join them in cosponsoring this important piece of legislation.
Having served in local government before being in Congress and having worked with those who are in the trenches on this issue of salmon recovery, I can tell the Members that solutions need to come from the bottom up and not the top down. The funds provided by this bill will empower local communities to deal with salmon recovery efforts at the local level. That is the proper approach, and that is why I support this bill.
As an example, the Haskell Slough project along the Skykomish River in my district is considered many a model of what successful salmon recovery can look like throughout the Pacific Northwest. A coalition of private landowners, local governments, businesses, and tribes use Federal dollars to restore a critical piece of freshwater habitat, and the fish have come back by the thousands.
Passing this legislation will help fund hundreds of individual projects like the Haskell Slough project, and continue to move us in the right direction on salmon recovery.
So again, I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for this work, for their work on this issue, and urge my colleagues to vote yes on H.R. 1157.
Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I just want to tell a personal story that relates a bit to this bill.
Last week I was sitting in my living room. I live on Puget Sound in the State of Washington. I was talking to one of my staffers about an environmental issue. We were sort of bemoaning some of the problems we have, both environmentally and legislatively, as it pertains to the environment here.
We were particularly concerned about the salmon, who really are on the ropes up and down the West Coast. These salmon are very much on the edge of extinction in a lot of these runs.
We were sort of down-mouthed at the moment, and just at that moment a bald eagle came soaring by, literally with the wings straight out, not flapping, just soaring on the wind as it came up over the shoreline, sort of eye level right past our house.
It was sort of a message, I think, maybe from some other power that we ought to keep our heads up when it comes to these endangered species; that if the bald eagle can have a spectacular recovery, perhaps the salmon can, too.
I think this is a good step forward towards that end. I want to compliment our friends on the other side for their work in getting this bipartisan product out.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.