Budget Increase may Net Idaho $20 Million for Salmon Recoveryby Staff
The Idaho Statesman, March 16, 2003
Idaho may get $20 million to improve habitat for spawning salmon.
U.S. Sen. Michael Crapo has announced that the Senate Budget Committee, of which he is a member, has agreed to provide more money for West Coast salmon recovery.
The Idaho Republican said $60 million was added to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration budget Thursday with the idea that $20 million will be directed to a fund Idaho can use to improve salmon habitat.
Crapo said it is the first step in a process that, if successful, will allow Idaho to join other Northwest states and Alaska in drawing funds from the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.
“It´s a big step because now the money is in the budget so that the appropriation committee has room to work within order to put that money in for Idaho,” Crapo said.
The budget committee sets the spending blueprint for the entire Senate, Crapo spokesman Lindsay Nothern said.
Crapo said even though the money is there, the appropriations committee has to move the money from the National Oceanic budget to the fund. And before Idaho can access the money, it must gain approval to join the other Northwest states as an eligible recipient.
Idaho has been excluded in the past, even though a significant portion of salmon begin their lives in Idaho streams and return to spawn as adults.
Nothern said other states have been reluctant to allow Idaho to join the fund because they believe it would mean less money for them. But Nothern said that should not be a problem now that money has been added for Idaho.
“Once it´s in there, it is a lot harder to take it out, because the budget folks have blessed it,” Nothern said.
The recovery fund is divided up between Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California. Last year, they split more than $100 million. The states can use the money for projects like improving habitat or screening water diversions to ensure young salmon are not flushed into irrigation canals. The fund is separate from other federal salmon budgets.
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