|11:07 AM EDT||
Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st
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.