Washington Congressional Delegation Comes Through for Puget Sound: Federal Funding for Recovery Maintained
Federal funding for Puget Sound recovery and statewide salmon recovery has been restored, at least for now. Congress last night passed the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending bill, which will fund the federal government through September 2018. The President signed the bill today.
The bill includes:
· $28 million to fund the Environmental Protection Agency’s Puget Sound Geographic Program, which maintains the FY 2017 level and is consistent with Washington state’s funding request.
· $26,723,000 for the National Estuary Program, which funds operations for groups or agencies like the Puget Sound Partnership in 28 designated estuaries nationwide. This provides $600,000 in NEP grants to each such estuary, which matches the allocation of FY 2017. An additional $1 million is included per program to be used for competitive grants within each of the 28 estuaries, as authorized in the 2016 NEP reauthorization.
· $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, which provides funding for salmon recovery projects in several Northwest states and California, including Puget Sound. This also maintains the FY 2017 funding level.
“The fact that federal funding for Puget Sound is maintained at current levels is a huge win for our region,” said Sheida Sahandy. “And it was made possible only because of the diligence and incredible bipartisan support of our state’s Congressional delegation.”
The budget proposed by President Trump would have zeroed out these funds for Puget Sound recovery, as well as for salmon recovery statewide.
Congressional delegates from Washington State and Oregon pushed hard for Puget Sound funding in the budget negotiations. Their determination and hard work are credited with securing the federal funding. While much of the negotiating happened behind the scenes, several Representatives also sent a letter to the budget writers. The letter points out the value of Puget Sound, in terms of both the environment and the economy. The letter is signed by Washington State Representatives Denny Heck, Dave Reichert, Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Pramila Jayapal, and Adam Smith, and by Oregon State Representative Peter DeFazio.
In addition, 70 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle signed a letter urging continued and ample funding for the nationwide National Estuary Program in the FY 2019 budget. This letter also helped to sway budget writers completing the omnibus budget for 2018.
The spending bill signed today expires October 1, 2018. Negotiations for the FY 2019 budget have yet to begin. A delegation of representatives from Puget Sound businesses, organizations, tribes, and state and local agencies is planning a trip to Washington DC to talk about the FY 2019 budget with national decision-makers. Puget Sound Day on the Hill will take place May 23, 2018.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who worked so hard to bring home this funding to Puget Sound,” said Ms. Sahandy. “Without federal support for the recovery effort, we most certainly would see a serious decline not only in the health of Puget Sound and the species it supports, but also in the quality of life we who live here enjoy.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this blog stated,”$65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, which provides funding for salmon recovery projects statewide, including Puget Sound. This also maintains the FY 2017 funding level.” This correction is intended to make clear that funding from the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund is not limited to projects in the State of Washington, but rather is spread among five states: California, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, and Washington.