July 09, 2009

Wyden, Merkley Announce Nearly $8 Million for Oregon in Interior Department Appropriations Bill

Land Acquisition and Vernonia Wastewater Treatment Plant funding included

Washington, D.C. - Working to ensure Oregon's natural resources are preserved and its infrastructure is strengthened, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D- Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D- Ore.) announced today that an Interior appropriations bill headed to the Senate floor includes nearly $8 million in projects for Oregon. Included in the bill are $3 million for land acquisition in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

"You only have to look at Oregon's natural beauty to understand why these treasures need to be protected," Wyden said. "These funds will continue to ensure that more and more of Oregon's natural resources are preserved for future generations as well as provide necessary improvements to infrastructure that protects the health and well-being of Oregonians."

"These funds will make long needed repairs to critical infrastructure in our rural communities, enhance accessibility in public buildings, and protect some of Oregon's most treasured land," said Merkley. "Such projects not only create jobs, but they help conserve our natural resources, provide farmers with the resources they need for their crops, and ensure that rural Oregonians have better access to clean drinking water. These projects are a win-win for our rural economy, our farmers, and our environment."

Also included in the bill is funding to rehabilitate and relocate the Wastewater Treatment Plant in the City of Vernonia out of the floodplain to minimize the possibility of a public health emergency caused by sewage during floods.

Projects included in the Interior appropriations bill include:

Sandy River/Oregon National Historic Trail - $2,100,000

Funding is for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to acquire and conserve property in the Sandy River Basin. Located 25 miles from downtown Portland this acquisition will serve as a conservation and recreation area for the benefit of fish, wildlife and people.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area - $2,000,000

Using Land and Water Conservation Funds, this project takes advantage of a unique opportunity to acquire land within the National Recreation Area to ensure that they will continue to contribute to the overall welfare of the community and be placed in public hands. This project will guarantee permanent public access for activities such as hunting and fishing.

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Land Purchase - $1,000,000

Funding for this project will be used to transfer privately-owned land in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument into public hands, opening them to public use.

Forest Legacy Project - $1,000,000

This project would fund the purchase of oak savannah and oak woodlands in the southwest hills of Eugene. This is for the 2nd phase of funding in an ongoing acquisition program for the Eugene Ridgeline Trail corridor and is among the U.S. Forest Service's top ranked Oregon Priority Forests under the 2001 "Assessment of Need."

Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge - $1,000,000

This funding will go toward land acquisition in the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and will help to advance habitat protection. The NWR is home to 10 percent of the world population of the dusky Canada geese and 100 percent of a very unique subpopulation of Aleutian geese.

Milton-Freewater Storm Water Treatment System - $300,000

Funds will be used to plan, design and construct a storm water treatment system that includes a holding pond facility to provide silt settlement and pump partially treated storm water to existing irrigation systems providing benefit to agriculture. Subsequent phases of the project could include treatment of storm water to acceptable levels for groundwater recharge and injection into local collection ponds. The project will reduce the impact on shallow wells in the area improving their use for agriculture and providing safe drinking water to citizens.

Vernonia Wastewater Management Facility - $300,000

These funds will go toward the construction of a relocated wastewater treatment facility outside of the floodplain in Vernonia, Oregon. The City of Vernonia experienced major floods in 1996 and 2007 that flooded the current wastewater treatment facility and resulted in raw and partially treated sewage being released into the flood waters and contaminating houses. This funding will help the city fund the relocation and reconstruction of their wastewater treatment facility outside of the floodplain, minimizing the risk of sewage mixing with flood waters in the future.

Wallowa County Courthouse Upgrade - $200,000

Funding will be used for upgrades to the Wallowa County Courthouse including roof replacement and the construction of an elevator shaft to make the 100-year-old structure ADA compliant and provide structural and seismic improvements to the structure. The Courthouse is listed on the Oregon Historical Registry and is a focal point for the City of Enterprise.

The bill will be considered by the full Senate and upon passage will be reconciled with the version passed by the House of Representatives and sent to the President for his signature.