It drew members of Congress from districts along the Oregon-California border, tribal members, agricultural interest groups, and officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation.
The audience followed the announcement on Monday that a first 15 million dollars will be awarded by the USFWS for projects that “help improve river, riparian, lake, and wetland habitats” that support native fish, waterfowl, and wildlife.
“This new funding represents a down payment for a brighter future for the Klamath Basin and will go a long way towards addressing a number of the Basin’s highest priority restoration efforts,” said Steve Guertin, Deputy Director of Program Management and policies for the US Fish. and Wildlife Service.
Funding for the initial grant announcement will be available as early as late summer, according to Guertin.
Citing low snowpack and low flow, Governor Kate Brown issued Oregon’s first 2022 drought statement for the Klamath Basin on Monday. It portends another devastating year for a region still struggling with hundreds of household wells that have dried up, a vast but waterless national wildlife refuge system, and farmers and indigenous tribes facing threats from drought for their livelihoods.
During the hearing, intervenors described the co-benefits of removing four dams from the Klamath River, which is expected to begin as soon as next year.
“The complementary nature of removing these dams and this continued investment in [the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law] will help restore both the ecological function of the watershed and the ecosystem health that all stakeholders need,” said Guertin.
A press release issued by the Home Office on Tuesday outlines general applications for infrastructure funding: “The Klamath Basin Restoration Program aims to improve the captive breeding of sucker species listed under the Species Act endangered at the Klamath Falls National Fish Hatchery, to treat water quality and quantity. and support projects that will help improve conditions for waterfowl, salmon and other native species throughout the basin.
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Ca., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife, said he hopes to find “lasting solutions” with the unprecedented funding from the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Act. infrastructure for the benefit of communities in the basin.
“It’s time to find a way forward that breaks the status quo of litigation, risk and uncertainty on the water that plagues all parties year after year,” Huffman said.