Drastic Cuts Proposed to Important Conservation Programs

State Senate Budget Proposal Eliminates Important Conservation Programs
Funding programs that help drive habitat restoration projects cut in new proposal

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Aerial image courtesy of Doris Small, WDFW. The Union River Estuary was restored using funds from these important programs, which the Senate is proposing to cut.


(Olympia)
This past Wednesday, the State Senate released their proposed capital budget, which included severe funding cuts to three important programs that drive habitat restoration in Washington.

In the proposal, the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program, which funds nearshore habitat restoration work, sees a 50% cut in funding of its current level. Both the Governor and the State House proposed full funding of this program. Similarly, the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Program, which funds habitat protection and restoration priorities, was cut by 64%. If the Senate’s budget was enacted, Washington would see a loss of $20 million for these important programs.

In addition to these severe cuts, the Senate has also proposed completely eliminating the Floodplains by Design Program, which is a public-private partnership that, among many other benefits, aims to reduce the risk of flooding and improve important habitat along Washington’s rivers. The State House budget proposed $43 million for this important program.

Mendy Harlow, executive director of the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, says, “The proposed Senate Budget puts at risk several important natural resource and habitat priorities that many of the people of Washington value.”

Throughout its history, the Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group has relied on these programs to fund critical restoration projects throughout Hood Canal. Recent examples include the restoration of the Union River and Big Quilcene River estuaries.

Funding from these programs not only helps improve and restore important habitat, but also is an investment in Washington’s communities. For every $1 million of funding invested in restoration programs, 17 jobs are created and more than $3 million of economic activity takes place. These programs also support natural resource-based businesses such as shellfish growers.

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