January 30, 2008

Senate Committee Passes Legislation to Restore Northwest Fisheries

Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today passed S. 1522, the Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Act (FRIMA). Introduced by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), S.1522 extends the Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Act of 2000, which over the last six years has cost-shared funds for improved fish passage to protect more than 550 river miles of fish habitat and species throughout the Northwest. In advance of the committee's vote, Wyden (D-Ore.), submitted the below statement for the hearing record:

Statement of Sen. Ron Wyden
ENR Business Meeting January 30, 2008
On S. 1522

Mr. Chairman, I'm pleased that the Committee is acting today on S. 1522, the Fisheries Restoration and Irrigation Mitigation Act. This legislation has been co-sponsored by all of the Senators from the Northwest - including several on the Committee -- Senators Maria Cantwell; Gordon Smith, Larry Craig, Patty Murray, Max Baucus, Jon Tester, and Mike Crapo -- to reauthorize the FRIMA program, as we call it.

Our legislation extends a homegrown, common-sense, win-win program that has a proven track record in helping to restore Northwestern salmon runs and protecting other fish species in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Western Montana.

Since 2001, dollar-for-dollar, the fish screening and fish passage facilities funded by FRIMA are among the most cost-effective uses of public and private fisheries restoration dollars.

Over the past six years, more than $10-million in federal funds has leveraged nearly $20-million in private, local funding. This money has protected more than 550 river miles of fish habitat and species throughout the Northwest.

This program has wide support in the Northwest including among groups often in opposition to one another. Fishermen and fisheries managers, agricultural producers and irrigators, and environmental organizations all recognize the benefit of this program. It is truly a program that works and it deserves the Committee's support.

While he was Governor of Idaho, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said, "…the FRIMA program serves as an excellent example of government and private land owners working together to promote conservation. The screening of irrigation diversions plays a key role in Idaho's efforts to restore salmon populations while protecting rural economies." And this past year, for the first time, Interior included a million dollars in its FY07 work plan to fund FRIMA. Up until now, every federal dollar for FRIMA has been added by Congress, and I hope this is sign that the Administration's attitude toward this program is truly changing. With the passage of this bill, Congress will be sending a clear signal to the Department and to the Administration that this is an important program that needs to be continued.

I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this legislation - S. 1522.