As a resident of western Wisconsin, I have enjoyed the incredible natural beauty of our area my whole life. Protecting our natural resources is vital to human health, wildlife viability, sustainable agriculture, and a stable economy.
As a member of the House Natural Resources committee, I have built a strong record of voting to protect our natural heritage. During debate of the Interior Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2007, for example, I supported amendments to protect clean air and water programs, prevent the slaughter of wild horses on federal land, and enhance wildlife habitat protection.
Protection of the Mississippi River, in particular, has been a top priority for me. One valuable program that protects the health of the river is the Environmental Management Program (EMP). This program was designed to evaluate, restore and enhance river and wetland habitat along a 1200 mile stretch of the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The EMP is crucial to maintaining the beauty of the Mississippi River; however, Congress continues to under fund the program. I founded and continue to co-chair the bipartisan Upper Mississippi River Basin Congressional Task Force, and one of the group's top priorities is increased funding for the EMP.
Additionally, I authored the Upper Mississippi River Basin Protection Act to further protect the river. Runoff from roads, farms, and livestock represents one of the greatest threats to the river ecosystem. The bill provides funding for a soil sedimentation and nutrient reduction monitoring network with the help of an integrated computer modeling program.
In these times of record budget deficits, Congress must make difficult decisions to balance the need for fiscal responsibility while funding important programs for health care, education, and the environment. Be assured, I will continue to push for a responsible budget that protects our unparalleled natural heritage, protects animals and wildlife, forests and park land, and the clean air and water on which we all depend.