Today, Congressman John T. Salazar announced that the president signed the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriation bill, a bill that contains numerous provisions that Congressman Salazar fought for Colorado.
"This appropriations bill is a victory for Colorado. It contains significant federal funding for numerous high priority projects that are important to the infrastructure, economic development and well being of our communities," Rep. Salazar said.
Funding secured by Congressman Salazar for Colorado communities include:
La Plata County Primary Care Health Clinic
Among items included in this funding bill is a $292,000 appropriation to be used by the Mercy Health Foundation of Durango for construction and or equipment in a primary care health clinic. The clinic will be used to provide primary care to residents in La Plata. Durango and La Plata County suffer from a severe shortage of healthcare professionals that has resulted in many people not being able to find or see a doctor for primary care. Recently Congressman Salazar along with Governor Ritter successfully led La Plata County through the designation process to become a Health Professional Shortage Area. This designation will allow physicians to organize their practices as Rural Health Clinics and thus receive a higher rate of reimbursement when providing care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
Rep Salazar noted, "La Plata county has a pressing need for more primary care, this funding will provide some much needed assistance for health care in La Plata county."
Bayfield Sewer Treatment Facility
Funding secured by Congressman Salazar within the appropriations bill include $ 393,760 for work on the Bayfield sewer treatment facility. The town of Bayfield is currently working on a major and very expensive 7 million dollar upgrade to their existing sewer treatment facility. The current treatment facility is inadequate for the growing population. The Town of Bayfield is in a rural part of Colorado and has very limited resources. "I'm happy that we're able to provide these resources to the community of Bayfield. With the limited local resources available to this small rural community, it would have been very difficult to make these improvements without the help of the Federal Government," Rep. Salazar said.
Animas-La Plata Project
The FY 2008 Appropriations includes $60,393,000 to continue work on the Animas La Plata Project. Originally, the president in his annual budget requested only $58 Million for ALP, which doesn't reach the full funding levels needed to efficiently build the project. By fully funding the project each year, it can be built more efficiently with crews and all equipment being fully utilized on the site. Also, with rising costs of project materials including steel, fuel, and concrete, full funding is more effective and saves taxpayers money in the long run.
ALP is needed to implement the Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Final Settlement Agreement providing final settlement of water right claims for both the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes. The project will also provide water for the city of Durango as well as other entities.
Chimney Rock Archeological Area
Received funding in the bill of $ 241,178. Twenty-two miles west of Pagosa Springs, Colorado's Chimney Rock is a large stone mound with two spires, believed to be over 1,000 years old. Designated an archaeological area and national historic site in 1970, Chimney rock is also a San Juan National Forest Archaeological Area and covers 4,100 acres of land. "For more than a thousand years, people have regarded Chimney Rock as both a sacred place. It is now an archeological treasure of the Southwest as well as a site for numerous tribes to gather for important dances and gatherings." Rep. Salazar said. "I'm happy that this money will be used in an effort to preserve Chimney Rock for future generations and enhance its abilities to attract visitors to Pagosa Springs and Southwest Colorado."
In order to purchase old mining claims near the town of Ophir, the FY08 Appropriations bill includes $ 984,400 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for land acquisition in the Ophir Valley in San Miguel County. Local residents want to see the old mining claims purchased to protect critical wildlife habitat, maintain recreational access on public lands, protect water quality, and help maintain the quality of life in the Ophir Valley. The owner of the property in the Ophir Valley, the Pauls family has worked with the Trust for Public land, local elected officials, Rep. Salazar and other members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation to make this project come together.
"When I toured the Ophir valley with local elected officials and leaders it was clear to me that it was a special place worthy of preservation. I am pleased to see federal funds are going to protect this magnificent valley," Rep. Salazar said.
Rebecca Levy Town Administrator of Ophir expressed the town's appreciation for the funding by noting, "The community of Ophir deeply appreciates the Congressman's willingness to fight for a project that is pivotal to our community's efforts to preserve the pristine nature of our valley."
US Highway 491/160-Southwest Colorado
US 491 provides access to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Land, Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, and Anasazi Heritage Center, and connects Coloradans to the Four Corners Region. Funds will also be used to make this narrow and sometimes dangerous road safer. US 491 will receive $980,000 in FY 2008.
Rep Salazar noted, "Highway 491 is a vital infrastructure link for Southwest Colorado. When I met with the Colorado State Patrol about this highway they told me that it is a very unsafe road with a high rate of accidents. This money will go for vital safety improvements on this route."
The National Park Service, a local Montezuma County family, the Conservation Fund and the Mesa Verde Foundation worked together to make the expansion of Mesa Verde National Park possible. The property includes 324 acres owned by the Henneman family. Their property would be purchased by the Conservation Fund and transferred to the park under the legislation approved this week. On top of that 324-acre transaction, the Mesa Verde Foundation will donate another 38 acres to the park. The bill will help facilitate the creation of a new Mesa Verde Visitor's Orientation Center. Congressman Salazar, working with Congressman Mark Udall a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, secured unanimous passage of the bill in the United States House of Representatives on October 22nd . The bill also includes 1,575,040 to fund the park expansion.
"Mesa Verde is the home to some of the world's most remarkable archeological treasures," Rep. Salazar said. "With this expansion and the passage of this legislation, this incredible national park will be further preserved and enhanced for future generations."
The City of Montrose
The array of appropriated funds includes $94,000 for the City of Montrose to upgrade the dispatch center with equipment and computer systems serving 22 agencies throughout the region.
The City of Montrose will also receive $150,000 for assisting in the development of the Montrose Higher Education and Technology Park, which has plans for 107,000 square feet of new business space and expansion of the Mesa State satellite campus.
U.S. Highway 13-Northwest Colorado
Other funds include $500,000 for road improvements to State Highway 13, the major north-south route through Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties in Western Colorado.
St. Mary's Hospital-Grand Junction
St. Mary's Hospital's Saccomanno Education Center will receive $429,000 for state-of-the-art medical education technology and training equipment.
Grand Junction Regional Airport-Walker Field
The Grand Junction Regional Airport also will benefit from $900,000 for airport and runway improvements.
U.S Hwy 150-Alamosa
U.S. Highway 150 is the sole connection carrying traffic to and from The Great Sand Dunes National Monument. Rep. Salazar secured a $2,260,000 appropriation to complete major roadway improvements. "These funds will provide critical infrastructure improvements for this key corridor which brings visitors to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and residents to neighboring Zapata Ranch from highway 160 to the south," Rep. Salazar said.
Pueblo County Sheriff Department
The Pueblo County Sheriff's Department will receive $305,500 to supplement the $1,500,000 retrofit of the thirty-year old jail; the money will be used for doors, door locks and safety devices. Sheriff Taylor noted that in the past year there were 10 escapes from the Pueblo County jail. With the addition of the doors, locks and other safety equipment escapes are anticipated to be totally curtailed.
Arkansas Valley Conduit
The Arkansas Valley Conduit will receive $600,000 to plan, design, and construct a water delivery pipeline, to be known as the Arkansas Valley Conduit, from a location in the vicinity of Pueblo Reservoir to Lamar.
In addition, the statewide transportation agency, CASTA, will benefit from the infusion of $3.6 million for mass transit projects throughout Colorado.