June 05, 2008

Watershed Quality Improves In Crapo, Tester Bill

Senators introduce Cooperative Watershed Management Act of 2008

Washington, DC - Federal legislation that has been introduced today by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) will spur the improvement of watersheds in Idaho and across the country. The Cooperative Watershed Management Act of 2008 creates a framework of new federal grants and incentives for collaborative efforts aimed at improving the quality of watersheds. Senators Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Max Baucus (D-Montana) are co-sponsoring the legislation.

The grants, administered by the U.S. Department of Interior, would help with planning and personnel costs associated with the startup or expansion of watershed management groups and the planning and implementation costs of pilot watershed improvement projects. The legislation would establish a new three-phase grant program to fund the establishment of a planning group, followed by studies and eventual implementation of watershed projects. The legislation spells out cost sharing requirements to obtain federal funding after the initial setup stage of participation.

Crapo said experience shows that once stakeholders have funding to form a management group, they are able to more efficiently manage watersheds and raise private funding. The plan also reduces further spending at the federal level.

"This win-win legislation will both improve watersheds critical to wildlife and water quality, and reduce the burden on the taxpayer," said Crapo, who is Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit. "Incentives and local collaboration are key to bringing together the plans that will improve our watersheds. These conservation efforts are more important than ever as we face increased risks from population growth and the possibility of increased pollution." Crapo also co-chairs the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus.

"This gives folks an incentive to sit down at the table-irrigators, anglers, scientists and outdoorsmen-so they can figure out the best way to manage the streams and rivers they depend on," Tester said. "Working out compromises at the local level will result in the best overall use of the water we have. Water is life. And if we don't manage what we have, we're going to be in trouble."