Senators Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today cosponsored legislation to protect and strengthen West Coast salmon runs. The Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act of 2008 is also cosponsored by West Coast Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
"While current salmon recovery efforts focus on endangered runs, this legislation would specifically work to keep already healthy salmon runs strong," said Senator Stevens. "Our great state has several famous salmon runs, and there is a need to improve and strengthen our spawning habitats. This legislation will help keep Alaska's runs healthy, so that we will continue to have the most sustainable harvest."
"This bill recognizes the importance of wild Pacific Salmon to the Western States and Alaska. Salmon are such an important part of the economy, culture, and natural environment of the region," said Senator Murkowski. "This bill will help focus more attention on the best salmon habitat, which we are so fortunate to have in abundance in Alaska, and direct funding to a public/private partnership that will work to preserve, protect, and improve these salmon strongholds."
The Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act of 2008 would:
· Expand federal support for the protection and restoration of the healthiest remaining salmon strongholds in North America in select areas of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho and Alaska;
· Establish a Salmon Stronghold Partnership Board with members of federal agencies like the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state representatives (including Alaska), Native American groups, non-governmental organizations and others;
· Develop, with input from the Salmon Stronghold Partnership Board and NMFS, a grant and technical assistance program to encourage cooperation between the various entities in establishing strongholds, conservation strategies, protections, best practices, regional partnerships and educational outreach; and
· Authorize grant appropriations of $15 million annually for the Fish and Wildlife Foundation for FY 2009 -2013.