Proposal Includes $5 Million for Idahoby Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, September 5, 2003
Idaho will be able to tap into a federal salmon recovery fund if the Commerce Department budget is approved by the U.S. Senate.
Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig have secured $5 million of the $90 million fund for habitat restoration and other salmon recovery measures.
"It's not at the level we requested, but it is a significant step because Idaho is now included," said Crapo during a phone interview from Washington, D.C.
Idaho has traditionally been excluded from the fund used to improve salmon habitat in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California. Pacific Coast and Columbia River Indian tribes also receive money from the fund.
The state's congressional delegation and governor's office have worked for the past three years to add Idaho as one of the states eligible to draw from the fund. But the efforts have been refuted in part by the states who are eligible, according to Will Hart, press secretary for Craig.
"The first battle was to get us included. Obviously the states that are included are very territorial for the funding that is out there."
Craig and Crapo, along with California senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, have also introduced legislation that would make Idaho a permanent member of the funding group and also equalize some of the funding between the states. Washington and Alaska get the lion's share of the fund. Both states will receive $26 million if the budget is passed as written. Oregon and California would get $11 million. The Indian tribes along the Pacific Coast would get $8.5 million and the Columbia River treaty tribes would get $2.5 million.
Crapo called Idaho's modest share of $5 million an initial success and a foundation to build on.
"The most significant step is to get Idaho included. Now that Idaho is included, we will work to ensure parity."
The senator had previously added $20 million to the commerce budget with the idea that it would eventually be moved into the salmon recovery fund. However the senate appropriations committee chose to use the money in another area. Crapo noted that the portion of the budget that includes the salmon recovery fund was cut by hundreds of millions of dollars, but the fund was spared and funded at the same level as last year.
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