March 09, 2005

Crapo, Craig Seek Orofino Funding

Economic mitigation related to Dworshak drawdowns

Washington, DC - Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig are teaming with Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) in an effort to bring $1 million in federal funding to Orofino and Clearwater County to mitigate the economic loss caused by the drawdown of Dworshak Reservoir for salmon recovery. The three Senators joined in a discussion on the Senate floor known as a colloquy. Such a discussion is considered a permanent part of the Senate record and will be attached to the appropriations bill. Colloquies help guide federal agencies as they receive their budgets.Crapo, Craig, and Domenici held the floor conversation relating to Fiscal Year 2004 appropriations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act. Last year, Crapo convened a meeting in Orofino to bring together local Clearwater County residents, elected officials and businesses with representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration, and the National Marine Fisheries Service to discuss economic mitigation for losses created by federal actions under the Endangered Species Act. Nearly every year, water levels in the 55-mile long Dworshak Reservoir are dropped as much as 90 feet to lower water temperature as salmon migrate in the Snake and Columbia Rivers.Among the ideas that have been discussed for mitigation efforts are improvements to the Dworshak area marinas, docks, and picnic areas, as well as fishing opportunities at the reservoir. Future meetings are planned in Clearwater County to discuss where and how the funding could assist in mitigation efforts, but Crapo and Craig agree the colloquy helps ensure that Army Corps funding should be directed at mitigation efforts.â??Weâ??ve been fighting for some time to try and find ways to mitigate the economic damage caused by the lowering of water levels at Dworshak,â?? Crapo said. â??This action spells out what we now have available--one million dollars designated specifically for the mitigation at Dworshak, and that should come as tremendous news for the community.â??"I have been to Orofino and surrounding communities several times and have noted the rise and fall in fortunes of the nearby towns in accordance with the levels of water in the reservoir," Craig said. "As the Nation continues to press on this and other Pacific Northwest communities to take steps to revive protected salmon species, the Nation should also assist towns disproportionately affected by that national call to action."A copy of the full colloquy is attached.# # #DWORSHAK RESERVOIR Mr. CRAPO . Mr. President, I want to express my appreciation for your efforts, and those of the subcommittee ranking member, Senator REID, in working with Senator CRAIG and me to support the important work of the U.S. Corps of Engineers in the Clearwater River Valley to mitigate damages caused by fluctuating levels in the Dworshak Reservoir. As my colleagues know, the challenges of responding to the riverine needs of endangered salmon have been an enormous strain on the communities of the Pacific Northwest. We all share the commitment to restore Pacific Northwest salmon. This is a national interest. However, the efforts to restore the runs have a disproportionate and direct impact in communities in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. The town of Orofino in the Clearwater River Valley of Idaho is just such a community. The town sits at the base of the Dworshak Reservoir, which is capped by a Corps-managed dam. The Corps periodically uses water from Dworshak Reservoir to help adjust temperatures in the downstream rivers when salmon are making their runs to and from the ocean. When spills are required, the levels of Dworshak Reservoir fall. Sometimes, this can amount to drops of approximately 90 feet. A 90-foot drop is catastrophic to recreational opportunities provided by the reservoir. Boat docks and trailer ramps no longer reach the water, beaches dangle precariously above the waterline, and muddy banks exposed for as far as the eye can see. The Corps has offered its help in mitigating the economic hardships caused by its actions in periodic reductions in reservoir water levels. I applaud that offer. I also commend Senator DOMENICI and Senator REID for providing the extra resources in the operations and maintenance account for the Dworshak Reservoir in this legislation to accommodate those mitigation efforts. I yield to the distinguished chairman to elaborate on that point. Mr. DOMENICI. I want to echo the comments of the Senator about the importance of these resources. We have provided an additional $1 million above the President's request for the O&M function for this specific economic mitigation commitment for the community. It is the committee's intent that the Corps should use these resources to help address the recreational needs of the Clearwater River Valley community resulting from the alterations of the water level in the reservoir. I believe the senior senator from Idaho, and a member of the subcommittee, also would like to be heard on this point. Mr. CRAIG. I echo the words of my colleague from Idaho on the importance of this enhanced funding. Few areas in the Pacific Northwest suffer more directly or as clearly by the changing needs of migrating salmon. I have been to Orofino and surrounding communities several times and have noted the rise and fall in fortunes of the nearby towns in accordance with the levels of water in the reservoir. As the Nation continues to press on this and other Pacific Northwest communities to take steps to revive protected salmon species, the Nation should also assist towns disproportionately affected by that national call to action. I appreciate the committee chairman securing these resources to recognize that commitment. It is my understanding that it is the committee's intention that these resources are provided to the Corps to be spent in the community in a manner that helps restore the economic base of the surrounding towns. These activities would include environmental measures and the establishment of a functional large boat moorage. Is this correct? Mr. DOMENICI. That is the committee's intention, and I appreciate your commitment to this important provision. I also appreciate Senator CRAPO 's desire in helping to clarify these issues so that the needs of the Clearwater River Valley communities can be effectively addressed. I yield back to Senator CRAPO . Mr. CRAPO . I thank the chairman, and I yield back the floor.