Walden Advocates for DRC Reauthorization in House Subcommittee Hearing
In a statement prepared for a legislative hearing today in the House Subcommittee on Water and Power discussing the Deschutes River Conservancy (DRC) Reauthorization Act, U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), a member of the subcommittee, expressed his strong support for the Act, S. 166, which would reauthorize the DRC and authorize annual funding of $2 million through 2015.
Walden announced the hearing date at a meeting earlier this month in Madras with members of the DRC Board of Directors and local water users. DRC Executive Director Tod Heisler was in Washington, D.C. to testify before the Subcommittee.
Walden's statement follows:
"Good afternoon Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your willingness to hold this legislative hearing today to hear testimony on the Deschutes River Conservancy Reauthorization (DRC) Act, which was passed unanimously by the Senate in November of last year. I also want to thank the Executive Director of the DRC, Tod Heisler, for traveling across the country to testify and answer questions today.
"The legislation passed by the Senate would reauthorize the DRC for an additional 10 years, and make two other minimal changes to the organization, ensuring that it is able to continue to receive federal funds and partner with the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to implement important water conservation projects in central Oregon. Since 1999, Congress has appropriated more than $5 million to the DRC since Fiscal Year 1999, something I've supported each year I've served in Congress.
"The DRC brings together key stakeholders in the Deschutes River Basin in my district to proactively devise conservation and water quality and supply solutions. The organization helps bring together farmers, tribes, irrigation districts, cities, private business, public agencies and environmental organizations to preserve traditional farm and ranch communities and help provide water to increasing tourism and municipal water needs.
"Recent projects undertaken in the Deschutes Basin include planting more than 100,000 trees, installing 40 miles of riparian fencing, removing berms and reconstructing stream beds, along with other restoration activities to improve habitat and water quality along 100 miles of the Deschutes River and its tributaries.
"On April 8th I had the opportunity to meet with stakeholders from Jefferson, Deschutes and Crook counties to discuss the many ongoing projects currently underway as well as additional steps to be taken to help conserve additional water in the river system. This legislation and other bills I've introduced will help move these important goals forward to provide water supply for those affected by the flow of the river.
"Many people in the Deschutes Basin have worked hard to maintain farming and ranching activities and ensure the sustainability of the watershed, and I know that some have concerns with the existing structure and operation of the DRC, particularly ensuring that the perspectives of irrigated agriculture are well represented. These concerns are further outlined in written testimony submitted by other constituents in my district, and I look forward addressing them as we work with the committee to advance this reauthorization through the legislative process."