SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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HEARING ON: H.R. 2496, TO REAUTHORIZE THE JUNIOR DUCK STAMP CONSERVATION AND DESIGN PROGRAM ACT OF 1994 AND H.R. 2821, NORTH AMERICAN WETLAND CONSERVATION COUNCIL EXPANSION ACT, AND H.R. 1775, ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION PARTNERSHIP ACT
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
SEPTEMBER 23, 1999, WASHINGTON DC
Serial No. 10663
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrinted for the use of the Committee on Resources
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/house
Committee address: http://www.house.gov/resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH-HAGE, Idaho
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
WILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana
GREG WALDEN, Oregon
DON SHERWOOD, Pennsylvania
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
MIKE SIMPSON, Idaho
THOMAS G. TANCREDO, Colorado
GEORGE MILLER, California
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA MC CHRISTENSEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
JAY INSLEE, Washington
GRACE F. NAPOLITANO, California
TOM UDALL, New Mexico
MARK UDALL, Colorado
JOSEPH CROWLEY, New York
RUSH D. HOLT, New Jersey
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
MIKE SIMPSON, Idaho
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SIMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
ADAM SMITH, Washington
HARRY BURROUGHS, Staff Director
DAVE WHALEY, Legislative Staff
JEAN FLEMMA, Democratic Legislative Staff
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held September 23, 1999
Statement of Members:
Dingell, Honorable John D., a Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan
Prepared statement of
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFaleomavaega, Hon. Eni F. H., a Delegate in Congress from the Territory of American Samoa
Gilchrest, Hon. Wayne, a Representative in Congress from the State of Maryland
Prepared statement of
Saxton, Hon. Jim, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Jersey
Prepared statement of
Ortiz, Hon. Solomon, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
Prepared statement of
Pallone, Hon. Frank, Jr., a Representative in Congress from the State of New Jersey, prepared statement of
Prepared statement of
Hon. Carlos A. Romero-Barceló, a Commissioner in Congress from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Statement of Witnesses:
Davis, Michael L., Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Department of the Army
Prepared statement of
Davis, Grant, Assistant Secretary, Executive Director, the Bay Institute of San Francisco
Prepared statement of
Frazer, Gary D., Assistant Director for Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
Prepared statement of
Hirshfield, Michael, Senior Vice President, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Melius, Tom, Assistant Director for External Affairs, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Prepared statement of
Ribb, Richard, Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrepared statement of
Yozell, Sally, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Prepared statement of
Additional material supplied:
From the Sierra to the Sea, The Ecological History of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Watershed
Letter to Mr. Saxton, from David R. Anderson, Director of Federal Affairs, Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Text of H.R. 1775
Text of H.R. 2821
Text of H.R. 2496
HEARING ON: H.R. 2496, TO REAUTHORIZE THE JUNIOR DUCK STAMP CONSERVATION AND DESIGN PROGRAM ACT OF 1994 H.R. 2821, NORTH AMERICAN WETLAND CONSERVATION COUNCIL EXPANSION ACT, H.R. 1775, ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION PARTNERSHIP ACT
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 1999
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation,
Wildlife and Oceans,
Committee on Resources,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a.m., in Room 1334, Longworth House Office Building, before the Honorable Jim Saxton, Chair, presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SAXTON. The Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans will come to order.
Today we are discussing H.R. 2496, the reauthorization of the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act of 1994; H.R. 2821, the North American Wetlands Conservation Council Expansion Act; and, H.R. 1775, Estuary habitat Restoration Partnership Act.
The first bill, H.R. 2496, has been introduced by a friend and colleague, Congressman Solomon Ortiz, from Texas. This bill would reauthorize the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act. This innovative idea was first enacted in 1994 and it has allowed thousands of school children, from kindergarten through high school, to participate in the nationwide wildlife art contest.
This program has also motivated students to take an active role in learning about and conserving our nation's wildlife resources. This measure does not make any significant changes in the underlying Act, but it will extend the annual competition, the marketing of these stamps, and the awards program for an additional five years.
The second bill, H.R. 2821, has been recently introduced by two House members who serve with great distinction on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission.
This proposal, by our colleagues, Congressmen John Dingell and Curt Weldon, would increase from three to five the number of non-governmental representatives that may serve on the North American Wetlands Conservation Council.
This Council has been instrumental in approving hundreds of worthwhile conservation projects that have saved over 32 million acres of essential wetlands in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Finally, H.R. 1775, to catalyze estuary restoration and coordinate Federal estuarine activities. This is an excellent bill and this action is long overdue from the Federal Government. I am the co-sponsor of the measure and I commend Mr. Gilchrest for his leadership on this issue.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I remain committed to attacking the problems facing this nation's estuaries and to restoring downgraded coastal habitat. Over a decade ago, Congress created the national estuary program to address serious environmental problems in estuaries of national significance. These problems include polluted runoff, habitat loss, development pressure, and harmful algal blooms.
Unfortunately, despite a significant amount of planning, very little effort has been made to implement comprehensive conservation management plans or to actively restore the most seriously degraded estuarine areas.
I am pleased that today we are taking positive steps to improve this unacceptable situation.
I would now like to recognize Mr. Faleomavaega for his statement.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Saxton follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
The Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans will come to order. Today we are discussing H.R. 2496, to reauthorize the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act of 1994, H.R. 2821, the North American Wetlands Conservation Council Expansion Act and H.R. 1775, Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act.
The first bill, H.R. 2496, has been introduced by our friend and Subcommittee Colleague, Congressman Solomon Ortiz of Texas. This bill would reauthorize the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act. This innovative idea was first enacted in 1994 and it has allowed thousands of school children from kindergarten to high school to participate in a nationwide wildlife art contest. This program has also motivated students to take an active role in learning about and conserving our nation's wildlife resources. This measure does not make any significant changes in the underlying Act but it will extend the annual competition, the marketing of these stamps and the awards program for an additional five years.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The second bill, H.R. 2821, has been recently introduced by the two House Members who serve with great distinction on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. This proposal by our colleagues, Congressmen John Dingell and Curt Weldon, would increase from three to five the number of non-governmental representatives that may serve on the North American Wetlands Conservation Council. This Council has been instrumental in approving hundreds of worthwhile conservation projects that have saved over 32 million acres of essential wetlands in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Finally, H.R. 1775, to catalyze estuary restoration and coordinate Federal estuarine activities. This is an excellent bill, and this action is long overdue from the Federal Government. I am a cosponsor of this measure, and I commend Mr. Gilchrest for his leadership on this issue. I remain committed to attacking the problems facing this nation's estuaries and to restoring degraded coastal habitat.
Over a decade ago, Congress created the National Estuary Program to address serious environmental problems in estuaries of national significance. These problems include polluted runoff, habitat loss, development pressure, and harmful algal blooms. Unfortunately, despite a significant amount of planning, very little effort has been made to implement comprehensive conservation and management plans or to actively restore the most seriously degraded estuarine areas. I am pleased that today we are taking positive steps to improve this unacceptable situation.
Mr. SAXTON. Without objection.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, again, I want to thank and commend you for holding the hearings to consider the bills that are now before the Subcommittee.
I certainly look forward this morning to the hearing and especially appreciate that you have rescheduled for two days of hearing on H.R. 1775, a bill introduced by our colleague from Maryland, Mr. Gilchrest, to facilitate estuary habitat restoration. That was postponed last week due to Hurricane Floyd.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, consequently, we certainly have a busy agenda this morning. To keep things moving along, I will defer at this time from formally commenting on H.R. 2496, to reauthorize the Junior Duck Stamp Program. Actually, I do approve and support very much the proposed bill by our good friend and member of this Subcommittee from Texas, Mr. Ortiz, as well as the expanding the North American Wetlands Conservation Council by two seats.
I enjoy and welcome our distinguished colleague, Mr. Dingell, who is not here yet, but I certainly welcome him for hearing and I'm looking forward to his testimony and certainly look forward to hearing from our friend from Texas, Mr. Ortiz, on his bill.
Mr. Chairman, on H.R. 1775, again, I commend my good friend from Maryland for introducing this legislation. I share his overarching concern regarding the continued loss of estuary habitats across our nation. Ecologists and researchers estimate that we have lost well over 90 percent of the estuary wetlands that existed when European explorers first discoveredand I'd like to change that word and say the European explorers never discovered this part of the world. They landed here on this continent 400 years ago. Even though Columbus got lost, Mr. Chairman, but they came here nevertheless.
The estuaries, such as San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound, Long Island Sound and Chesapeake Bay, once renowned for their high ecological productivity, are now mere vestiges of their former selves.
To restore past ecological abundance is to begin to understand how much we have all lost and, most importantly, how far we must go to restore what has been despoiled.
Mr. Chairman, the decline in estuary habitat has been well documented in the scientific and resource management literature for over 30 years. We are now beginning to see what this loss means to the environment, expressed through the declines in commercial fisheries, saltwater intrusion, coastal aquifers, and shoreline erosion and subsidence threatened, even private property.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A loss of estuary wetlands also has contributed to a declining water quality in these areas and these habitats serve as natural filters for pollutants.
Mr. Chairman, the impacts are real and should surprise no one.
What does remain surprising is the stubborn insistence of some critics in the development and resource extraction industries who believe that we can continue to fill in and pave over our estuary habitats, somehow believing the ecosystem is left unaltered and that our human environment is not diminished.
Simply a charade to contend that this loss of estuary habitat, Mr. Chairman, has not had a pernicious impact on both our environment and the economy.
Just ask any unemployed commercial fisherman or an angler who has lost his favorite fishing area and he will tell you otherwise, or just ask the economists who recently estimated the dollar value of services provided at no cost to us by various natural environments.
Estuaries weigh in at $56,000 per acre per year for a global total of $4 trillion per year.
Mr. Chairman, after reviewing the bill, I believe H.R. 1775 would provide a reasonable balanced approach to help preserve remaining estuary habitats and would stimulate practical and effective environmental restoration on the local level.
Particularly, I am pleased that the legislation incorporates an administrative structure similar to the model currently authorized under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, or NAWCA.
I believe that the NAWCA model can be adapted successfully to administer a national estuary habitat restoration program and I will be interested to hear if our other witnesses share this view.
One very important concern that I do have with the legislation is that it would exclude the Great Lakes States from participation. Plainly stated, Mr. Chairman, the exclusion is unwarranted, unnecessary, and perhaps even, I might say, unfair. But I do hope, Mr. Chairman and our good friend from Maryland, your support of this would add the Great Lakes, as well as the other areas that are part of our great nation.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This bill proposes an artificial distinction that is inconsistent within the statutes. For example, the Great Lakes are fully recognized under the Coastal Zone Management Act. Furthermore, degraded wetlands habitats, wherever they are located, are worthy of restoration and should receive equal consideration, regardless of whether they are salty or freshwater.
With that said, I would say that my good from Maryland, Mr. Gilchrest's legislation is a very good step. I believe that with some pragmatic modifications, that maybe we can make it even more effective.
I look forward to working together with the gentleman from Maryland and look forward to hearing from our witnesses this morning.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Faleomavaega follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. THE HONORABLE ENI F. H. FALEOMAVAEGA, A DELEGATE IN CONGRESS FROM THE TERRITORY OF AMERICAN SAMOA
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I look forward to this morning's hearing. I especially appreciate that you have rescheduled for today the hearing regarding H.R. 1775, Mr. Gilchrest's bill to facilitate estuary habitat restoration, that was postponed last week due to Hurricane Floyd.
Consequently, we certainly have a busy agenda this morning. To keep things moving along, I will defer at this time from formally commenting on either H.R. 2496, which would reauthorize the Junior Duck Stamp Program, or H.R. 2821, which would expand the North American Wetlands Conservation Council by two seats. Mr. Chairman, I join you in welcoming our esteemed colleague and avid sportsman from Michigan, Mr. Dingell, and I await with interest his comments regarding this legislation.
I do have some brief remarks regarding H.R. 1775, and I commend my good friend from Maryland for again introducing this legislation.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I share his overarching concern regarding the continued loss of estuary habitats across our Nation. Ecologists and researchers estimate that we have lost well over 90 percent of the estuarine wetlands that existed when European explorers first discovered this continent 400 years ago. Estuaries such as San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound, Long Island Sound and Chesapeake Bayonce renowned for their high ecological productivityare now mere vestiges of their former selves. To read historical accounts of past ecological abundance is to begin to understand how much we have all lost, and most importantly, how far we must go to restore what has been despoiled.
The decline in estuary habitat has been well-documented in the scientific and resource management literature for over 30 years. Worse, we are now beginning to see what this loss means to the environment expressed through declines in commercial fisheries, salt water intrusion ruining coastal aquifers, and shoreline erosion and subsidence threatening public and private property. Loss of estuarine wetlands also has contributed to declining water quality in these areas, as these habitats serve as natural filters for pollutants. Mr. Chairman, the impacts are real and should surprise no one.
What does remain surprising is the stubborn insistence of some critics in the development and resource extraction industries who believe that we can continue to fill in and pave over our estuary habitats and somehow believe that the ecosystem is left unaltered, and that our human environment is not diminished.
It is simply a charade to contend that this loss of estuary habitat has not had a pernicious impact on both our environment and economy. Just ask any unemployed commercial fishermen, or an angler who's lost a favorite fishing area, and they will tell you otherwise. Or just ask the economists who recently estimated the dollar value of services providedat no cost to usby various natural environments. Estuaries weigh in at $56,000 per acre per year, for a global total of $4 trillion per year.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC After reviewing the legislation, I believe that H.R. 1775 would provide a reasonable, balanced approach to help preserve remaining estuarine habitats and would stimulate practical and effective environmental restoration on the local level. Particularly, I am pleased that the legislation incorporates an administrative structure similar to the model currently authorized under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, or NAWCA. I believe that the NAWCA model can be adapted successfully to administer a national estuary habitat restoration program, and I will be interested to hear if of our witnesses share this view.
One very important concern that I do have with this legislation is that it would exclude the Great Lakes States and insular areas from participation. Plainly stated, this exclusion is unwarranted, unnecessary and unfair, and I hope the Chairman and the sponsor will support the addition of these areas.
This bill proposes an artificial distinction that is inconsistent with other statutes. For example, the Great Lakes States and insular areas are fully recognized under the Coastal Zone Management Act. Furthermore, degraded wetland habitatswherever they are locatedare worthy of restoration and should receive equal consideration, regardless of whether they are saline or freshwater.
With that said, Mr. Gilchrest's legislation is a good first step, and I believe with some pragmatic modifications, that it can be made even more effective. I look forward to working with the gentleman from Maryland, and of course with you Mr. Chairman, to move this important legislation forward in the process.
Mr. SAXTON. I thank the gentleman for a very thoughtful statement. Just to amplify on what the gentleman just said, it was just a day or so ago that we were successful in adding several thousand more acres to the Coastal Barriers Resources system and we thank you for your cooperation, and I say that from the bottom of my heart, as you know.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Ortiz.
STATEMENT OF HON. SOLOMON ORTIZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you and the Ranking Member for having this hearing today and for including the Junior Duck Stamp legislation on the agenda.
I had the honor of sponsoring the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act back in the 103rd Congress, when I was a Subcommittee chairman of the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee.
The purpose of the program, as specified in the law, is to provide elementary and secondary school students with educational opportunities relating to the conservation and management of migratory birds. The program is also intended to increase the capacity for schools, states and other educational programs to conduct conservation and education programs.
As I was preparing for this hearing, I was pleased to hear the progress that has been made with this program. I am sure I am not the only person here who knows the importance of programs of this type to the future of our nation.
As economic and population growth continues and increasingly impacts our environment and natural resources, we have to work harder to find ways to preserve both our world and our standard of living. I would agree, solutions to these types of problems begin with knowledge and understanding and these begin with, of course, education.
This is where the benefits of programs such as the Junior Duck Stamp Program will be embraced by society. I am proud to be a part of the program that reaches out to grade school students to teach an appreciation for environmental science and habitat conservation, while also rewarding hard work and effort with support for continuing education.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I can see how this is a great tool to help educate students who have not had the opportunities that some of my colleagues and I have had to spend time in nature and develop an appreciation of our resources and their management.
I thank our witnesses for being with us today and look forward to hearing their testimony. Again, Mr. Chairman, I thank you.
Mr. SAXTON. I thank the gentleman. I would now like to introduce someone who truly needs no introduction, Mr. John Dingell, one of our most outstanding conservationists in the House, who is here to discuss the North American Wetlands Conservation Council Act of 1999.
My good friend, John Dingell, if you would take your place and proceed as you are comfortable, sir.
STATEMENT OF HONORABLE JOHN D. DINGELL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. DINGELL. I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the outstanding work of this Subcommittee. I feel very comfortable because I've spent a lot of time here in this room, both as a member of the Merchant Marine Fisheries Committee, which was just referred to by my good friend Mr. Ortiz, and, also, as a member of the Commerce Committee.
This is indeed the home of great conservation legislation and it has a proud history both in earlier days and also under your leadership, and I'd like to say how pleased I am to see my old friend Mr. Faleomavaega here and to have an opportunity to listen to him and to you, and, also, to my friend Mr. Ortiz.
I have a lengthy statement, Mr. Chairman, which I, with your permission, would like to insert into the record. It is on H.R. 2821, and I will try to summarize briefly the purposes behind that particular legislation.
You might be inquiring as to why it is I suggest a change be made. The legislation is a surprisingly important piece of legislation. In fact, NAWCA has been an enormous success. It's funded 629 projects between 1991 and 1999.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It's helped to restore, enhance or help approximately 34 million acres across this continent to achieve higher levels of conservation and wildlife use values.
It's triggered a ratio of partner-to-government contributions in which $2.50 of private money have matched every public dollar that has been spent. This investment is triggered by something which tends to indicate success. The Council which handles this is a nine-member panel. This legislation would increase it to 11.
The reason is, of course, that we're finding that in success and in matters where conservation is vitally concerned, there is a desire for a large number of organizations to participate and a desire on the part of the Administration to see to it thatand that would be true of any Administrationthat the benefits are achieved by sharing the participation in the business of the Council and representation on that Council rather broadly.
Two very distinguished organizations which have worked very hard on this panel were scheduled to be dropped, the Ducks Unlimited and also the Nature Conservancy. These are two institutions that put hundreds of thousands, indeed millions of dollars into this program and into other land conservation and wildlife conservation programs.
I think that it would be unwise to drop them. I'm told that now Ducks Unlimited is going to be reappointed, although I've not heard of this, but officially, and that the other organization is not seeking at this time particular membership on the Council.
Very frankly, it seems to me that if we need additional representation on the Council and additional participation to expand not only the membership, but the opportunity of different organizations to serve here and to become participants and enthusiastic participants in the program, it would appear that we should, however, at the same time, keep both the Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited, because of the sterling reputation they have and because of the superb work they have done in participation in particularly the conservation of lands, but also conservation of wildlife and specifically in areas involving wetlands, migratory birds and things of that sort.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So the legislation is really very simple. It will ease the pressure in the Administration to cut off those who are serving well and very, very effectively, in the best traditions of wildlife conservation, while, at the same time, affording them the opportunity to appoint several new members to the Commission, which would be, in that fashion, very beneficial to all.
I would observe that my good friend, Mr. Weldon, who serves with me on the Migratory Bird Commission, which works very closely with this panel and indeed approves the projects that they recommend, or disapproves, and we haven't disapproved any, is also a co-sponsor of the legislation and feels, as I do, that we need to move forward to expand the capability of the Commission to do the things that it needs to do in terms of encouraging public participation by private citizens and private organizations in the conservation of wetlands under the North American Wetlands Conservation Council Expansion Act of 1999.
I want to commend this Committee and you, Mr. Chairman, for the fine leadership you've shown in matters of this kind. I hope that you will not consider that I'm wasting the time of this Committee by bringing to you a relatively piddly matter. I would observe that small matters oft times are very important to greater successes and this appears to fall into that area.
So with those remarks, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your courtesy, the great work that you and the Committee are doing, and for permitting me to appear here this morning to share these thoughts with you and for your consideration of this bill.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dingell follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. HON. JOHN D. DINGELL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. Chairman, I recently introduced H.R. 2821, the ''North American Wetlands Conservation Council Expansion Act of 1999.''I want to thank you and your Subcommittee staff for your generosity in granting a hearing on this legislation so quickly. I hope that H.R. 2821 might remain on a swift course so that the great benefits of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) will be fully employed to conserve more wildlife habitat.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This legislation would make a modest improvement to a conservation law that has successfully saved wetlands throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico during the past decade. The North American Wetlands Conservation Act was signed into law in 1989 in response to the finding that more than half of the original wetlands in the United States had been lost during the past two centuries. Congress recognized that protection of migratory birds and their habitats required long-term planning and coordination so that our treaty obligations to conserve these precious species would be met.
The purpose of NAWCA is to encourage partnerships among public and non-public interests to protect, enhance, restore and manage wetlands for migratory birds and other fish and wildlife in North America. NAWCA has been a tremendous success, funding 629 projects between 1991 and 1999, helping to restore, enhance or help approximately 34 million acres across our continent. Most impressive has been the ratio of partner-to-government contributions, which has been about $2.50 for every public dollar invested.
A little more than one year ago I first learned of the Fish and Wildlife Service's desire to promote change in the NAWCA program when the agency announced its intent not to reappoint two non-governmental organizations that played key roles in making NAWCA a cornerstone of American conservation success. I was greatly concerned that any replacement of Council members under NAWCA should not serve as a disincentive to continued active participation in meeting the Act's goals.
I inquired of the Fish and Wildlife Service why it was attempting to replace existing Council members. The Fish and Wildlife Service informed me that it sought to ensure more diversity on the Council. One organization chose to leave the Council, I was informed. The other chose to continue to seek reappointment. Recently my office region's quality of life and recreational value. The Bay Area economy is driven by industries that are located in the Bay Area because they choose to be hereand they choose this reason because valuable employees appreciate the quality of life in the Bay Area.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As species such as the Delta smelt and the winter run Chinook salmon have been protected under the Endangered Species Act, water users, including the East Bay Municipal Utilities District and the Contra Costa Water District have faced increasing restrictions on their ability to take water from the Delta. Restoring habitat is not the entire answer to this fisheries and ESA crisis, but it is a part of the solution. If we can restore habitat and ecosystem health, it will have direct benefits for local residents and the state's economy.
The Region and the State of California Understand the Need For Estuary Restoration
There is a regional consensus in California that the restoration of habitat in the Bay-Delta Estuary should be a major priority. The state is already making funding available for the restoration of habitat in the Estuary, through Proposition 204, in 1996. This year, Governor Davis just signed a budget with $10 million for a new San Francisco Bay Conservancywith a major focus on habitat restoration.
Save The Bay is taking a leadership role to restore wetlands habitat, working with other regional and local environmental organizations, private and public conservancies, farmers, landowners and other constituency groups, promoting policies that encourage restoration, and building alliances and partnerships to advance restoration throughout the region.
We have also learned in the Bay Area that habitat restoration can help solve some of our dredging needs. Several years ago, for example, the Port of Oakland, with the support of environmentalists, fishermen and state and Federal agencies, used millions of cubic yards of clean mud dredged from its channels to restore wetlands at a site called Sonoma Baylands. This project has been cited as a national model of cost-effective sustainable development. However, restoration does cost somewhat more than the old practice of dumping all of this material in the Central Bay. There are several other similar projects under development. Funding from H.R. 1775 could be invaluable for advancing this work.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Last year, another wetland restoration project was dedicated in the North Bay, affecting 300 acres of wetlands at Tolay Creek in the North Bay. What made this project particularly interesting was its broad support from environmentalists and farmers. Environmentalists and farmers in California often fight over water and wetlands issues. However, this restoration project helped farmers resolve permitting issues that had troubled their levee maintenance work. H.R. 1775 would provide for cooperation with private land owners to solve environmental problems that, if left unaddressed, could threaten the environmental and economic health of the Bay Area and many other coastal areas around the nation.
This legislation can be a catalyst for estuary restoration, eventually providing over $75 million per year of new Federal resources to achieve an actual increase of one million acres of habitat by 2010. It will also give local communities and our organizations a real voice in shaping restoration projects through voluntary efforts and public-private partnerships. It recognizes the value of watershed planning efforts and voluntary efforts by citizens groups helping with actual, on-the-ground restoration, and makes these a priority for funding. It will also improve coordination among Federal programs and agencies, and streamline their efforts to collaborate.
H.R. 1775 provides funding through the Army Corps of Engineersand this bill could be one of the most important statutory efforts to reform the Corps' practices and shift its mandate and mission toward restoration. The Corps itself has said that it wants one third of its budget devoted to restoration within five years.
In case anyone wonders why we need funding through this bill, given the existing Federal funding for CALFED, it is important to underscore that CALFED's funding authorization expires this year. The CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program also does not include the entire Bay, instead emphasizing the Delta and upstream areas. The lower reach of the estuary needs more attention, and this bill would help meet that need. While we work to renew the CALFED funding authorization, we need H.R. 1775 to help build a national constituency for estuarine restoration. Not only is that appropriate, but it will help maintain the Federal presence and effort to restore our estuary over the long term.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC All of these factors explain for the bill's broad support among local organizations around the nation, and among the Federal agencies themselves.
We deeply appreciate the efforts of Representatives Gilchrest and Tauscher to work for preservation and restoration of our nation's estuaries, and we encourage you and all members of the House to swiftly pass this legislation.
Thank you for your consideration.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much. And, believe me, we don't think that you are wasting our time in any way, shape or form. When we have a program that works as well as this one does, where we appropriate a dollar and it turns into two or three because of contributions that interested parties make, certainly this is in no way, shape or form a waste of time, and we thank you for being here.
I would just say that my inclination is just to say, at this point, that people who are involved in this program make these contributions and if we can get more people interested and involved in the program to make more contributions, so much the better.
So I don't have any questions at this time, but I would like to commend you for your forethought and bringing this matter to our attention, and we intend to move forward with it as expeditiously as possible.
Mr. DINGELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Faleomavaega.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I, too, would like to associate myself with your comments made earlier concerning Mr. Dingell's statement. Perhaps, just for the record, to my good friend from Michigan, my own personal welcome for him to testify this morning.
As you well know, Mr. Dingell, the Department of the Interior did something very funny last year and, perhaps for the record, if you could explain to the members of the Committee, this rotation consecutive appointment seems to have done something to the way the law had originally constituted the membership of the Council.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Can you share with the members of the Committee how this has affected your decision, with Mr. Weldon, to introduce this legislation, to increase the membership?
Mr. DINGELL. Yes, I will, and I thank you for that question. Originally, there were to be three private organizational members, which would be generally representative of the conservation community.
It was to derive the benefit of their expertise, to achieve the benefit of their support, and also to encourage their participation and that of others in the conservation community and program, which, as mentioned by the Chair, has been enormously successful because it brings in about $2.50 worth of private money for every dollar we spend of Federal money, and people are confident that this program is saving money because the areas are held under long-term contract and have the prestige of being denominated as essentially government or quasi-governmental undertakings. So people are comfortable giving money to carry these programs forward.
What has transpired is that the success of this has led the Secretary, and I think in a proper exercise of his judgment, to say, well, we want to spread the opportunity for responsible organizations around, to permit them to serve on this panel.
This would have the practical effect, and I agree with it, of increasing the support that is out there in the society generally, particularly in the organized conservation community.
Having said that, at the same time, however, we drop the two organizations that participate most extensively and in terms of the largest contributions, in terms of money and time and manpower and so forth: Ducks Unlimited, which is an extraordinary organization, a great treasure, and the Nature Conservancy.
Their purposes are slightly different, but they're all geared to buying land and at conserving and preserving the wildlife resources and the other environmental values.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I find that the two purposes, the purpose of seeing to it that we encourage the participation by those who do the most, is somewhat at war with the idea of spreading it around to attract greater public attention and greater public support.
This is an attempt to meet the concerns of the Department, to see to it that we do keep the big givers and the people who do the most in a position where they can continue to do that and enthusiastically support it, while, at the same time, affording the Secretary the opportunity to provide some additional recruitment of public support for the program.
I think that in that particular, this is a pretty good compromising resolution for the difficulty that we confront and it doesn't make it so big that we run into social problems inside the institution.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I thank the gentleman for a very comprehensive explanation, and I do support the gentleman's bill, by the way. Thank you.
Mr. DINGELL. I thank my good friend and I would say to him hoya ah.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I think the Chairman probably doesn't know what that means, but maybe one day when you come see the South Pacific, we will share with him the meaning of those words.
Mr. DINGELL. We will sing him a song.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much. Mr. Ortiz.
Mr. ORTIZ. Mr. Chairman, all I can say is that it's an honor to have the dean of the House with us this morning, and I think that you have a good bill and I'll support it. Thank you, Mr. Dingell.
Mr. DINGELL. I thank you. I'm honored to be here, Mr. Chairman. You are three distinguished members and we all have large reason to be grateful to all of you for your leadership and for your hard work in these matters. Thank you.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SAXTON. We want to thank you for being here this morning, John. Your testimony is much appreciated.
We will now move on. I will now introduce the second panel. We have with us Tom Melius, the Assistant Director of External Affairs at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
I just would like to say, as a reminder, that the five-minute rule, of course, is in effect. Your testimony will be included in its entirety for the written record, and I now recognize Tom for his statement.
STATEMENT OF TOM MELIUS, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Mr. MELIUS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Tom Melius, Assistant Director for External Affairs for the Fish and Wildlife Service, and I appreciate the opportunity to appear today to discuss the first two bills at this hearing.
The Fish and Wildlife Service strongly supports H.R. 2496, the reauthorization of the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program, which was introduced by Congressman Ortiz. H.R. 2496 would reauthorize the administrative expenses for the Junior Duck Stamp Program at $25,000 for Fiscal Years 2001 through 2005.
In 1989, the Junior Duck Stamp Program was developed initially by the Service with a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The program was sanctioned and expanded by Congress in 1994.
This program is designed to offer young people from kindergarten to high school the opportunity to learn about wetlands, water fowl and wildlife conservation through their participation in an integrated curriculum of environmental science and the arts.
The highlight of the program is the annual Junior Duck Stamp contest. All 50 states and the District of Columbia participate. The Service owes a great deal of appreciation to the volunteers who assist with this program. These volunteers are responsible for many activities, such as receiving and recording the art and selecting the contest sites annually.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Service believes the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program plays an important role in the education of our youth, for it instills in them a strong environmental conservation ethic. Currently, over 100,000 young people in the public, private and home-school programs participate. The Service strongly supports adoption of H.R. 2496.
The next bill, H.R. 2821, the North American Wetland Council Expansion Act, introduced by Congressman Dingell and co-sponsored by Congressman Weldon, amends the North American Wetland Conservation Act to expand the Wetlands Council by adding two additional non-governmental organizations to the nine-member group.
The North American Wetland Conservation Act provides matching grants to private and public organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetland conservation projects in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
From 1991 through March 1999, over 900 partners have been involved in 684 projects, supported with over $287 million in Federal funding and total partner contribution exceeding the $272 million figure, a ratio of $2.5 for every one dollar of Federal funding, a very great leverage.
The North American Wetland Conservation Act also directs the Secretary of the Interior to appoint state and non-government agencies to the nine-member council, with permanent seats for the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service and a representative from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The states are represented by state directors from four of the states representing the four flyways.
The three NGO organizations are required to be active participants in wetland conservation projects. Both the states and non-governmental members are appointed to serve three-year terms.
The North American Wetland Conservation Act is one of the most successful and non-controversial Federal conservation laws, mainly due to the partnerships that have been formed for on-the-ground restoration efforts. The Council embodies these successful partnerships and represents the broad-based coalition of interests committed to the protection of wetlands and migratory birds.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For these reasons, the Service does not believe the Council needs to be expanded to meet its current mission. However, should Congress expand the mission of the Council, as has been discussed, in conjunction with the debate on the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, then the addition of two members may bring additional new expertise and perspective to the Council.
The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which the Senate passed in April of 1999, and is awaiting floor action in the House, as well as a bill very similar that was passed out of the Resources Committee, establishes a grant program to provide assistance in the conservation of neotropical migratory birds.
The legislation encourages the Secretary of the Interior to establish an advisory group to provide guidance in implementing a grants program. If that legislation is enacted, the Service intends to designate the North American Wetland Council as the advisory group for that program.
This program would bring the expertise and experience of the Council to the full range of needs of neotropical migratory birds. Recognizing this opportunity, the Service believes that if the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act were enacted, expanding the Council to include additional non-governmental groups with expertise in Latin America and the Caribbean and neotropical migratory bird conservation, it would make sense to enhance the Council's current expertise and representation.
The Service looks forward to working with Congressman Dingell and the Subcommittee to explore these opportunities to fulfill all needs of migratory birds, including neotropical migrants, water fowl and others.
This concludes my statement and I would be pleased to answer any questions the Committee may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Melius follows:]
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF THOMAS O. MELIUS, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Mr. Chairman, I am Tom Melius, Assistant Director for External Affairs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I appreciate the opportunity to appear today to discuss these two Fish and Wildlife Service bills the Subcommittee is considering.
H.R. 2496, Reauthorization of the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program
The Fish and Wildlife Service strongly supports H.R. 2496, which was introduced by Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz. We would like to thank Mr. Ortiz for introducing this bill and for his continued support of this program.
H.R. 2496 would reauthorize administrative expenses for the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program at $250,000 for fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2005. Funds appropriated under this program are used for various purposes, including salary and travel expenses for the Junior Duck Stamp Manager, travel expenses for the Junior Duck Stamp winners and their teachers and parents, mailing contest information and scholarships and ribbons for contest participants.
In 1989, the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program was developed initially by the Service with a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The program was sanctioned and expanded by Congress in 1994, with the enactment of Public Law 103-340.
This innovative program is designed to offer young people from kindergarten to high school the opportunity to learn about wildlife conservation through an integrated art and science curriculum. The primary focus of the wildlife conservation program, which complements the regular environmental education curriculum for students, is waterfowl and wetland education. The highlight of the program is the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design art contest held annually and modeled after the successful Federal Duck Stamp. The Junior Duck Stamp program experienced a humble start with two states participatingCalifornia and Florida. Today, all fifty States and the District of Columbia participate.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Each year, as part of their environmental education studies, students throughout the Nation submit their designs relating to conservation of migratory birds (waterfowl entries) to a designated site in their State to be judged by volunteers who are versed in art and wildlife. The ''Best of Show'' designs in the State are forwarded to Washington, DC, where they are judged by a panel of five judges. The first place design in the national contest becomes the Federal Junior Duck Stamp. The Junior Duck Stamp, which sells for $5, is a collectible and is not used for hunting.
Because of the limited resources, States rely heavily on volunteers. These volunteers receive the art, record it, prepare the art for display and decide where in the State the contest will be held. Following the contest, they prepare the art for its return and prepare certificates of appreciation and ribbons for contest participants. Without these volunteers, the Junior Duck Stamp program could not be the success that it is.
The Service believes the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program plays an important role in the education of our youth and it instills in them an environmental conservation ethic. In 1998, over 42,000 students entered the art contest. Educators who have consulted with the Service on the development of the Program, estimate that for every student who enters the art contest ten other students actually participate in the curriculum. In addition, the winning designs are displayed at State Fairs, National Wildlife Refuges, art galleries, museums, and government buildings, encouraging and educating students and the public.
The Service strongly supports H.R. 2496, and we encourage Congress to pass this important legislation to help the Service continue providing this educational program for young people.
H.R. 2821, North American Wetlands Council Expansion Act of 1999
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Service would like to thank Congressman Dingell and the Subcommittee for your continued interest in and support of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) and the work of the North American Wetlands Council. H.R. 2821 would amend NAWCA to expand the Council by adding two additional non-govemmental organizations to the nine-member group. While the Service does not oppose the bill, we believe it is unnecessary because the Council has been working successfully for ten years to advance the goals of wetlands and migratory bird conservation.
History of NAWCA
NAWCA provides matching grants to private or public organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The law was originally passed to support activities under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, an international agreement that provides a strategy for the long-term protection of wetlands and associated upland habitats needed by waterfowl and other migratory birds in North America. NAWCA established a nine-member Council to review grant proposals and recommend approval of qualifying projects to the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission (MBCC).
In 1998, Congress reauthorized appropriations for NAWCA through fiscal year 2003, reflecting the strong support shared by Congress and the public for the Act's goals. The ceiling for appropriations for NAWCA is $30 million per year, and Congress has appropriated $15 million for projects in fiscal year 1999, the highest level appropriated to date.
Successes of NAWCA
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC From 1991 through March 1999, over 900 partners, including environmental groups, sportsmen's groups, corporations, farmers and ranchers, small businesses, and private citizens have been involved in 684 projects under NAWCA. The law requires that U.S. and Canadian partners focus on protecting, restoring, and/or enhancing important habitat for migratory waterfowl and other birds. In Mexico, partners may develop training and management programs and conduct studies on sustainable use, in addition to habitat protection. NAWCA has supported projects with a total of over $287 million in Federal funding, and total partner contributions have exceeded $727 million. The law requires non-Federal matching dollars of 1: 1; however, partners have averaged 2.5 dollars for every Federal dollar. This tremendous leveraging has enabled well over 8 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands to be acquired, restored, or enhanced in the United States and Canada, while over 26 million acres in Mexico's large biosphere reserves have been affected through conservation education and management planning projects.
Current Operations of the Council
NAWCA directs the Secretary of the Interior to appoint State and non-governmental agencies to the nine-member Council, with permanent seats for the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service and a representative from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The States are represented by State Directors of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and represent the four migratory bird flyways. The three non-govermental organizations are required to be active participants in wetlands conservation projects. Both the States and non-governmental members are appointed by the Secretary to serve three-year terms. The Secretary is authorized to appoint one alternate member to the Council, who is able to vote if one of the nine seats is vacant or a voting member is absent from a meeting. The Secretary is also encouraged to appoint ex officio members to the Council, who are not voting members but able to participate actively in the selection process. Currently one non-governmental organization holds this status. Mexico and Canada also have ex officio membership and participate in the decisions of the Council. The Council meets three times a year to review and rank project proposals and is served by staff which provides extensive technical advice. The Council recommends projects to the MBCC, which has the authority to approve funding for projects.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Over the past ten years, the current nine-member Council has successfully collaborated to select the most important projects to protect migratory birds and their habitats and further the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. Part of the success of NAWCA has been the fair, equitable and non-biased way in which the Council has formulated sound recommendations to the MBCC. The results speak for themselves. NAWCA is one of the most successful and non-controversial Federal conservation laws; mainly due to the partnerships that have been formed for on-the-ground restoration efforts. The Council embodies these successful partnerships and represents the broad-based coalition of interests committed to the protection of wetlands and migratory birds. For these reasons, the Service does not believe the Council needs to be expanded to meet its current mission. However, should Congress expand the mission of the Council as has been discussed in conjunction with debate on the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, then the addition of new members may bring important new expertise and perspectives to the Council.
Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation
The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which the Senate passed in April 1999 and is awaiting floor action in the House, establishes a grants program to provide assistance in the conservation of neotropical migratory birds. The legislation encourages the Secretary of the Interior to establish an advisory group to provide guidance in implementing the grants program. If that legislation is enacted, the Service intends to designate the North American Wetlands Council as the advisory group for this program. This proposal would bring the expertise and experience of the Council to the full range of needs for neotropical birds that depend on healthy habitat throughout their migratory life cycles. Conservation of all migratory birds, not only in wetlands but in other important habitat areas as well, is already built into NAWCA. The Council is fully capable of carrying out this advisory role and has indicated its enthusiasm for doing so.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Recognizing this opportunity, the Service believes that if the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act were enacted, expanding the Council to include two additional non-governmental groups with expertise in Latin America, the Caribbean and neotropical migratory bird conservation would make sense to enhance the Council's current expertise. The Service looks forward to working with Congressman Dingell and the Subcommittee to explore these opportunities and fulfill the needs of all migratory birds including neotropical migrants, waterfowl and others.
This concludes my written testimony, and I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. GILCHREST [presiding]. Thank you, Mr. Melius. I just have a couple of questions.
How much money did Congress appropriate for the Junior Duck Stamp Program?
Mr. MELIUS. The Junior Duck Stamp Program receives an annual appropriation of $250,000 a year.
Mr. GILCHREST. And how many schools currently receive copies or applications or information about the program, public and private, and do you target specific schools? Is the country blanketed with information? What kind of follow-up do you have?
Mr. MELIUS. The latter, as you just mentioned, is more the approach that we have taken. We try to blanket the entire nation using the database provided to us from the educational organizations, so that every school in our nation will receive information about how to implement this type of a program.
Mr. GILCHREST. Is it mailed to the individual schools?
Mr. MELIUS. Yes.
Mr. GILCHREST. Is it the school board that gets the information or the actual high school or middle school?
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MELIUS. I believe it's through the elementary schools, as well as including the high schools, so that we get as broad a distribution as we can, because this is a program that does involve elementary schools or elementary students, as well as high school students.
Mr. GILCHREST. So it goes to the actual school or to the board in that county?
Mr. MELIUS. To the actual school itself, I'm told.
Mr. GILCHREST. So you send out tens of thousands of pieces of literature.
Mr. MELIUS. A brochure that explains the program, as well as then in each state and all states participate, we have a state coordinator, a volunteer normally, and we will have instructor curriculum, as well as go out and conduct workshops to try to get more participation in this program.
Mr. GILCHREST. How many schools participate, do you know? Throughout the country.
Mr. MELIUS. I believe that we have approximately 5,212 schools that are active participants at this time. We have approximately 42,000 students that are entering art into the contest to be judged annually in each one of the states. Winners of each one of these states then is submitted to Washington, DC for a national program, where we then judge a first and a second and a third place winner.
Mr. GILCHREST. Is it mostly high school students that participate, middle school?
Mr. MELIUS. It depends in each state on just where the enthusiasm lies with a lot of the volunteers and some of the instructors. We have had past state winners that are from elementary school, as well as from high schools. Last year, the winner was from Dearborn, Michigan and the winner of this year's contest, which was just announced a couple of months ago, was from Illinois.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. Is there certain criteria, water colors, acrylic, oil, does that matter?
Mr. MELIUS. The criteria of what type of medium they use is not really that important. It's more that they are learning about the whole water fowl and wildlife experience and incorporate some of that into the art that they are producing in each one of the states.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much. I yield now to Mr. Faleomavaega.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank Mr. Melius for his statement this morning.
I was going through this very beautiful pamphlet or brochure about the national wildlife refuge system and I notice issues like Guam, like Baker Island, which I don't think anybody lives there, and Howland Island, even Rose Atoll, which is part of my jurisdiction.
Is there any particular reason why these areas are not included in this legislation? I notice some in Puerto Rico and the 50 states are part of the participants of the program, but I don't see any reference made to these areas. Hawaii is an area, even though it's a state.
Mr. MELIUS. I'm not certain of
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Do you have to have ducks in order to qualify to be a participant?
Mr. MELIUS. I'm not certain why it was not originally included in the '94 bill, as adopted by Congress. Since this is a reauthorization, that is something I'm sure could be looked into.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Would the Administration have any objection if I do ask my good friend from Texas and others here to include the insular areas? Would it be an extra cost in the program?
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MELIUS. We feel that as many areas that we can get out this type of material and participation is just valuable to all of us.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. It's not so much the money. It's the program. It's the orientation. It's the getting the young people of America to appreciate what wildlife is all about, especially our appreciation for ducks.
Am I correct in that?
Mr. MELIUS. You're very correct, as well as all water fowl, not just only ducks.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Melius, we had earlier the statement that was made by Congressman Dingell about the proposed bill to add two additional members to the North American Wetlands Conservation Council. I didn't get the gist of the Administrations position. Do you oppose the proposal made by the gentleman from Michigan to add two new members to the Council?
Mr. MELIUS. While we are not opposed to the addition of two additional members to the Council, the Administration believes that, at this time, under the current mission of the Council, there is a very strong balance of representation and that with the current policy of trying to rotate members onto that Council, that the Council is working very effectively.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. But the Interior Department, when they took this position in '98, last year, was this part of the authorization of the legislation to allow the Secretary to do this consecutive term rotation, whatever it is?
Mr. MELIUS. The rotation policy was an effort that I believe the Fish and Wildlife Service initiated a year ago to try to give better clarity on just how the Council and the membership on the Council is going to be implemented.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Not wanting to put words in your mouth, Mr. Melius, but if I hear what you're saying, the Administration does not oppose, but really would prefer not having two additional members. Am I correct in that?
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MELIUS. If Congress is wanting to have two additional members, of course, we will work with that in every fashion we can. We just feel that the addition of some other areas to the Council may be a better thing to consider at this time.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. You say that we have a strong balance, but what Mr. Dingell is proposing would make it even better. Right?
Mr. MELIUS. We're trying to work with the Council to make sure that there is a delicate balance kept. If the addition of two new members is what the Congress is wanting to do, I'm sure we will be able to accommodate that.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Melius, you're veryI like that. Thank you very much.
Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Ortiz.
Mr. ORTIZ. Mr. Melius, thank you for being with us today. And I think that you gave a good explanation as to what H.R. 2496 does. I think that there were some very good questions that were asked.
I guess my question would be, what do you need for us, Congress, to do so that we can meet your plans? I know this is an exciting program. Many children in the middle schools and high schools take advantage of this program.
What can we do to help you?
Mr. MELIUS. Besides just adoption of this bill to keep the authorization flowing, I would like to thank you personally for the effort you have shown in this. I remember early in the '90s specifically having an opportunity to work in this body on the old Merchant Marine Fisheries Committee, when the 1994 bill was originally drafted, an issue that I was involved with at that time.
So I appreciate your steadfast support of this. Obviously, the appropriations are the life blood in allowing us to continue and we're very pleased that Congress has been able to provide the full authorization or full appropriations at the authorization level.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you. And I can assure you that I will do everything, with my good friend from American Samoa, to accommodate him, to work with him, because he's bigger than I am.
Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. ORTIZ. I yield.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Actually, Samoans are very small people. Just don't provoke them, that's all.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you. The gentleman from Texas, or the gentleman from Puerto Rico.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no comments or questions.
Mr. GILCHREST. We thank the agency, Fish and Wildlife, for coming and testifying here this morning. Thank you very much.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Yes.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I just want to ask unanimous consent to have the statement by Mr. Frank Pallone be made part of the record.
Mr. GILCHREST. Without objection.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pallone follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK PALLONE, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today on H.R. 1775, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act. I know both the Chairman and the sponsor of this legislation have a keen interest in seeing our estuaries preserved and protected and I commend them for their efforts.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Estuaries are the richest part of our coastal areas, a wealth of biodiversity. They are havens for migrating shore birds and nurseries for essential fish habitat. They are critical to the survival of many species, which use estuaries as protective feeding areas for their young. Estuaries also offer vast scientific, educational, and recreational benefits. They are often the cultural centers of coastal communities. These fragile areas are also especially vulnerable to the impacts of over-development and pollution. At the same time, many estuary areas play a large role in local and regional economies. In New Jersey, the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Delaware Bay estuaries are important maritime commerce areas, and the Barnegat Bay estuary in the Chairman's district is a critical area for coastal recreation.
H.R. 1775's goal of restoring one million acres of estuary habitat by the year 2010 follows the spirit of President Clinton's Clean Water Action Plan which calls for an increase of 100000 acres of wetlands annually. I would like to hear our witnesses' views on the bill's goal of one million restored estuary acres.
I also hope our witnesses today will address the question of whether the bill should be expanded to include the Great Lakes and territories. I know many members of the Subcommittee would like to see the bill expanded, and I am interested in hearing what our panelists think about this proposal. Finally, I hope our panelists will comment on the council structure of the created by H.R. 1775 and the advantages to creating these types of partnerships.
Again, I thank the Chairman and the sponsor of this legislation. I am pleased to see this bill move forward and I look forward to working with my colleagues to enact this legislation.
STATEMENT OF HON. WAYNE GILCHREST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND
Good morning., Today the Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans will be hearing from various distinguished witnesses regarding the status of the nation's estuaries and, in particular, my bill H.R. 1775, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act. This is a topic that has generated considerable interest this session of Congress, and it is my hope that we can come together to pass meaningful legislation to assist in the restoration of estuary habitat throughout the nation.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Habitat in estuaries has been degraded or destroyed over the past 100 years with little regard for its many economic values and quality-of-life benefits. Population growth in coastal watersheds; dredging, draining, bulldozing and paving; pollution; dams; sewage dischargesthese and other impacts from human activities have led to the extensive loss and continuing destruction of estuary habitat.
For example, in our coastal states, more than half (roughly 55 million acres) of wetlands have been destroyed. Specific examples include:
In the Chesapeake Bay, 90 percent of sea grass meadows were destroyed by 1990. Over the last 30 years (1959-89), oyster harvest fell from 25 million pounds to less than one million.
In San Francisco Bay, 95 percent of its original wetlands have been destroyed and only 300 of the original 6,000 miles of stream habitat in the central valley support spawning salmon.
70 percent of salt marshes along Narragansett Bay are being cut off from full tidal flow and 50 percent have been filled; and
Louisiana estuaries continue to lose 25,000 acres annually of coastal marshes, an area roughly the size of Washington, DC;
For the most part, the loss in each estuary is an accumulation of small development projects and other impacts. The destruction cannot be blamed on one factor alone, but the cumulative effects of the destruction are surprising in extent and severity, amounting to tens of millions of acres.
We can and must coordinate Federal, state and local management efforts to protect our estuaries. We must also provide sufficient resources for estuary restoration, without which all of our planning and coordination efforts are useless. Our estuaries are sick, and planning without implementation is like a diagnosis without any treatment. If we want to bring estuaries back to health, we need to commit the time, money, and creativity necessary to restore the vital organs that make estuaries live and breathe.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC H.R. 1775, the National Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act, is not about a new layer of Federal bureaucracyit is about coordination of existing estuary restoration efforts. H.R. 1775 will complement the efforts of programs like the National Estuary Program (N-E-P) and the Coastal Wetland Conservation Grants by providing direction to Federal agencies to work together with the states, local governments, N-E-Ps, conservation groups, and others to address a most critical needhabitat restoration.
My bill, which has 45 cosponsors, creates a national estuary habitat restoration council that will be responsible for reviewing and approving project proposals and developing a national strategy to identify restoration priorities. The council will consist of the Federal agencies that have some responsibility for estuary managementthe Army Corp of Engineers, EPA, NOAA, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Transportation.
The council will also include state government representatives from six regional councils from around the country. The six regional councils will be responsible for identifying restoration priorities for their member states and forwarding project applications that address those priorities to the national council. Each regional council is made up of the governor of each state in the region.
The Federal agencies will be expected to provide technical support to these regional councils in the development of their project applications. H.R. 1775 will engage the Federal agencies in new capacities to manage and restore this nation's estuaries. My bill gives the Army Corps of Engineers the responsibility for managing the operations of the national and regional councils, and for providing technical assistance on project development and implementation. NOAA is charged with collecting monitoring data on projects and maintaining a database of both successful and not-so-successful projects. All of the agencies are called upon to work together to coordinate their efforts and target those estuaries that are identified by the regional councils as priorities.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Despite our best efforts, the restoration of estuary habitat remains a roadblock to healthy ecosystems in many areas of the country. H.R. 1775 proposes a way to focus our efforts and to begin targeting specific, regional problems. This will be a learning experience. The agencies will need to develop new relationships and find ways to work together. With a comprehensive monitoring database, future project applicants should be able to learn from past project experiences. I see great potential for a renewed restoration effort, and I look forward to hearing the testimony on this bill.
STATEMENT OF HON. WAYNE GILCHREST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND
Mr. GILCHREST. Also, today, the Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans will be hearing from various distinguished witnesses regarding the status of the nation's estuaries; in particular, my bill, H.R. 1775, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act.
This is a topic that has generated considerable interest of this session of Congress, mostly favorable interest, but some controversial. It's my hope that we can come together to pass a meaningful piece of legislation to assist in the restoration of estuary habitats throughout the nation.
This is going to be a fairly long statement, but I want to read it anyway, because it's a really good statement. That anything we can do to provide incentive, energy, as politicians say, fire in the belly, which I never had for politics, but I don't know, it's still here.
There's a lot of work to be done out there and there's a lot of good minds out there to do the work. If we can collaborate and coordinate all the various Federal, state and local projects, instead of the fragmentation that now exists, we can really turn some of this stuff around.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Habitat and estuaries have been degraded or destroyed over the past 100 years, with little regard for its many economic values and quality of life benefits. Population growth in coastal watersheds, dredging, draining, bulldozing, paving, pollution, dams, sewage discharges.
You know, the dynamic balance of nature has its ebbs and flows. Sometimes things are really good; sometimes, if you have a volcano explode, it really destroys the landscape. But it has a dynamic element to it.
But with paving, bulldozing, dredging, sewage, there is nothing dynamic about that. It's one big massive, dull thud that never gets out of the way.
These and other impacts of human activities have led to the extensive loss and continuing destruction of estuary habitat. For example, roughly 55 million acres of wetlands have been destroyed. In the Chesapeake Bay, we've lost about 90 percent of sea grass meadows. San Francisco Bay, 95 percent of its original wetlands have been destroyed and only 300 of the original 6,000 miles of stream habitat in the Central Valley support spawning salmon.
We've lost 70 percent of the salt marshes in Narragansett Bay. Louisiana estuaries continue to lose 25,000 acres of coastal marshes annually, An area roughly the size of Washington, DC.
For the most part, the loss in each estuary is an accumulation of small projects and other impacts. Let that acre go. Let that half-acre go. Let that 20 acres go. And the cumulative impact, based on the increase in population, begins to become more of a problem, a greater impact.
We can and must coordinate Federal, state and local management efforts to protect our estuaries. We must also provide sufficient resources for estuary restoration, without which all of our planning and coordination efforts are useless.
Our estuaries are sick, and all you have to do is go to one of them anywhere in the country and you're not going to see a vibrant, clean, clear body of water. Our estuaries are sick and planning without implementation is like a diagnosis without a treatment. We all know what the problems are, but we can't quite get out there in any meaningful wayI know the Corps of Engineers is doing some work in the Chesapeake Bay on oyster reefs. So is Fish and Wildlife, so is NMFS, so are any other given agency, but it's tiny little pieces, without much coordination.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'm not beingcasting stones to the agencies, but we need something likeyou know, we have this funnel, we have this massive Federal Government that have pieces of certain projects or grants, but it's like a strainer. They don't really get a specific problem in any big way.
What we'd rather do with our legislation is take thisif you've ever putwhat do you call ittransmission fluid in an automatic car, you have this funnel and this long shaft that goes down into that tiny little tube. Well, that's what we want to do. We want to get all these massive Federal agencies and programs and departments where they can target in a significant way some projects.
We'd like, for example, tothe state has a program to restore 10 percent of the oyster reefs in about 10 years. Well, we think we can do 20 percent of the original oyster reefs in 10 years or less, if you coordinate all the efforts.
About 1 percent of the oyster production, harvest, is left after 100 years of damming and sewage and cumulative impacts of all sorts. Just one percent of the oysters are being harvested today of what it was 100 years ago, lost 99 percent of the resource.
We are fragmenting the environment. Everybody in the room knows it. And we have a fragmented program to fix it. I'm not saying this piece of legislation is going to solve all the nation's problems, but I think it would go a long way and it's a first really good step in the right direction.
H.R. 1775, the National Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act, is not aboutthis is important, and I wish my colleague from Virginia was here to hear thisbut if we can get this voted out of this Committee, it will have a great impact on the Transportation Committee.
It's not a matter of a new layer of Federal bureaucracy, and there's nothing wrong with bureaucrats, because you're related to that system. It is about coordination of existing estuary restoration efforts.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC H.R. 1775 will complement the efforts of programs like the National Estuary Program, by providing direction to Federal agencies to work together with state and local governments, and we go on. We have 45 co-sponsors.
The Corps of Engineers, EPA, Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation would be the people who make up this council. The six regional councils would be responsible for identifying restoration priorities for the member states and forwarding project applications that address those priorities to the national council.
Each regional council is made up of the governor of each state in the region. The Federal agencies will be expected to provide technical support to those regional councils in the development of their project.
We have the Chesapeake Bay program, and I'm sure they have similar programsI know they have similar programs in Louisiana, similar programs in San Francisco. The Chesapeake Bay program is a good program. There's a lot of good people that work there. But there seems to me, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, that there's a little bit ofwhether it's agency overlap or not enough agency collaboration between the Feds and the state and local private groups, like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation or university scientists, we'd like to get all these people together, all these bright minds together and use an effective means to specifically target programs that will actually restore some of these estuaries that are having problems.
In spite of our best efforts, the need for restoration of estuary habitat remains a roadblock to having healthy ecosystems in many areas of the country. We hope that this bill proposes a way to focus our efforts and to begin targeting specific regional problems.
This is going to be a learning experience. The agencies will need to develop new relationships and find ways to work together. With a comprehensive monitoring databaseand I guess I'd like to emphasize that as my last point.
We want to do good things, but we want to make sure that those good things, whether it's restoring SAVs, oyster restoration, fish habitat, a whole range of other things, that we monitor what we do so that we can improve that process.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So at that point of preaching to the choir, I'm going to yield to my good friend from American Samoa for his opening statement.
STATEMENT OF HON. ENI F. H. FALEOMAVAEGA, A DELEGATE IN CONGRESS FROM THE TERRITORY OF AMERICAN SAMOA
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for explaining in great detail some of the provisions contained in the proposed bill. And I do want to apologize. I don't know what happened, but I would love to be a co- sponsor of this proposed bill, because I think, in principal, it has tremendous value.
I think the questions of the estuaries existing in our country needs to be deftly looked upon this and whether it be organizing or establishing a council similar to what we already have in our fisheries management council, I think it's a good idea, a principal one, a concept.
But I do look forward to hearing from our friends from the Administration and see what their responses, and I look forward to working with you on the provisions of the bill.
The one thing that I just wanted to raise, and maybe I kind of read it too casually, was just that the States of California and Hawaii are not included in the regions, unless if I misread the provision of the bill. But I don't know why, but I get into this position every time when there's a proposed bill.
The first question I raise is whether Puerto Rico is included or whether the insular areas are included. We always seem to be faced with these kinds of issues whenever legislation is being introduced. With 3.8 million American citizens living in Puerto Rico, I know perhaps it was just a slight oversight or maybe it was not intended, but I
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. If the gentleman would yield.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I'd gladly yield to the gentleman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Hawaii and California are included and we certainly will ensure that Puerto Rico is included, as well, and American Samoa.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. We do have estuaries. I thank the Chairman and thank you very much for your explanation, and, again, I want to personally welcome our friends from the Administration and look forward to hearing their testimony.
Mr. GILCHREST. The gentleman from Puerto Rico.
STATEMENT OF HON. CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, A COMMISSIONER IN CONGRESS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to welcome the witnesses here today and I'm very glad to be here.
I will have to excuse myself a little later on, because I have another commitment. But I wanted to say that I would like to also join the Chairman as a co-sponsor of this bill. It's a very important and very timely brought up, and I join with my colleague, Mr. Faleomavaega, in requesting to make sure that we are also included in the bill.
Mr. GILCHREST. We will ensure that before the markup.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GILCHREST. Now I would like to introduce our witnesses. We have Ms. Sally Yozell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Oceans and Atmosphere, National OceanicI'm going to say NOAA; Mr. Mike Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Department of the Army; and, Mr. Gary Frazer, Assistant Director of Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for coming this morning. We have a new light system, but we also want to make sure that your entire statement is read and we're not cut off before we miss any important information.
Ms. Yozell, you may go first.
STATEMENT OF SALLY YOZELL, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR OCEANS AND ATMOSPHERE, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
Ms. YOZELL. Thank you very much. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. My name is Sally Yozell, and I'm the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
First, let me thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership on this legislation and, Congressman Faleomavaega, let me also thank you for your leadership particularly in restoration of marine areas, such as corals and our great success recently in Pago Pago in removing those vessels. So thank you for your assistance.
This hearing comes at a very timely moment. Estuaries and fisheries from North Carolina through the Chesapeake Bay and up through the New Jersey coast are suffering from the intense flooding from last week's hurricane. On Monday, the President declared a commercial fishery failure in North Carolina as a result of the hurricane.
We know that oyster beds have been destroyed, other shellfish are being contaminated, and we've only begun to assess the overall resource damages. Restoration activities can play a key role in how well and how quickly we can undo some of the damage done from this recent hurricane.
For example, we can create oyster reefs and create or restore coastal wetlands to replace those damaged by the storm. Both are important because they help stabilize the bottom and serve as a natural filter to minimize the fluxes of sediments and nutrients into our coastal waters.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Today's hearing is very timely under these unfortunate circumstances.
I appreciate the Committee's leadership in focusing on the need to protect the nation's estuary and coastal resources. Estuaries are an important part of our nation's economic and environmental well being. These special coastal places provide habitat for many important species, act as a natural water treatment system, provide flood control and protection against storm damage, and are wonderful recreational areas.
In fact, estuaries and coastal wetlands provide essential habitat for 80 to 90 percent of our recreational fish catch and 75 percent of the nation's commercial harvests.
These natural systems, though, Mr. Chairman, as you just so eloquently pointed out, are in big trouble and they are suffering from many water quality problems, declining habitat, et cetera.
So NOAA supports your legislation, H.R. 1775. NOAA's science and expertise in estuary restoration can contribute significantly in achieving the goals of this bill, especially when we are coupled with the capabilities of all the other Federal agencies here and who are also included in the legislation.
You asked me to focus specifically on six areas, so let me first comment on those. Regarding the bill's impact on existing NOAA restoration programs, I can only say that it will compliment our existing suite of activities in a very major way, and, in particular, the national council will ensure coordination among the federally-sponsored estuary efforts, as well as with our partners in the local and state governments.
Second, regarding the structure of the proposed councils, I believe the collaborative approach to restoration fostered by the national council will have a great benefit. Although I strongly support the involvement of states, local governments and constituents, I'm not totally certain that having two separate councils is the most efficient way to achieve this.
Perhaps workshops or advisory panels may be more efficient or even ex-officio members will accomplish the goals, but I'd like to work with you on that.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Third, concerning the type of restoration that could be conducted, NOAA envisions a broad range of activities, such as improvements tidal exchange, dam or berm removals, fish passageway improvements, and the establishment of riparian buffer zones.
I would also encourage that the legislation reward the use of innovative approaches and recommend that each project include a long-term monitoring phase, as this seems to be the most effective method to determine success, make corrections and advance the science of restoration.
Fourth, concerning what we see as NOAA's main role in the bill, NOAA looks forward to serving on the national council. We envision providing the scientific and technical expertise gained over many years of involvement in habitat restoration, and I endorse the specific role to manage the data collected from all of the restoration projects.
With regard to the funding identified for NOAA to manage the monitoring data, it seems adequate. However, I'm not confident there is enough funding to support the full range of administrative and technical support activities to cover the whole Act.
Fifth, concerning the extent that NOAA participates in and coordinates estuary restoration, NOAA is involved in a wide range of these activities with other Federal and state partners.
For example, we're part of Louisiana's Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act, known as CWPPRA, which this legislation is closely modeled after. Through CWPPRA, we have sponsored 17 projects, totaling over $65 million.
NOAA's damage assessment and restoration program, or DARP, cooperates with many of our Federal and state partners. It restores coastal and marine resources injured by releases of oil and other hazardous materials. DARP has obtained more than $250 million in settlements and has been involved in over 50 restoration projects.
Then we have a new program that is called our community-based restoration program, and that works with local communities to restore coastal habitats using small amounts of Federal moneys, and we have, in the last three years, done over 70 projects.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Lastly, Mr. Chairman, I was asked about the role NOAA anticipates for the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. Through state and Federal partnership, NOAA manages 25 estuarine reserves, totaling over a million acres. To date, there has been some limited restoration at these sites, but the restoration needs are significant and this legislation would help significantly in accomplishing this.
For example, the Chesapeake Bay Reserve in Maryland is working to address erosion and habitat loss. Currently, the reserve is evaluating Maryland's policies concerning the removal of invasive marsh grasses. The reserves can also serve as a scientific baseline where areas of controlled studies can be conducted on restoration techniques.
If I could, I'd like to make just a couple more comments with regard to the legislation. First, I would recommend that the Great Lakes states (and I'm happy to hear now that the U.S. Territories and Commonwealths) should also be included and eligible for assistance. They have important estuaries and analogous restoration needs.
I also believe the bill should place greater emphasis on the biological significance of restoration, as opposed to just share acreage. Often, the greater ecological benefit is derived from a small restoration project, not necessarily a larger one.
As you noted earlier, it's a half-acre here, a full acre there, and whatever. Sometimes those can be very beneficial in just restoring that small amount.
And NOAA agrees with you that the priority should be given to restoration projects that have area-wide restoration plans in place and, also, the strong effect of non-point and point pollution programs.
Lastly, I would like to remind the Subcommittee that earlier this year, the President announced his one billion dollar Lands Legacy Initiative to expand Federal efforts to conserve and restore America's natural resources. The initiative included $14.7 million increase to improve the reserve system and $22.7 million to fund the existing community-based restoration program, which I just mentioned.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The House Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations mark includes only $1.35 million for the NERS program increase, and no increased funding for the community-based restoration effort. I know that they're going to conference now and I urge the Committee please to work with the Appropriations Committee.
And, Mr. Chairman, I have to say, we believe that the Subcommittee has taken a very important leadership role in addressing the estuarine restoration issue. NOAA supports the bill, H.R. 1775, and I applaud the efforts that have gone into developing this important legislation.
I look forward to working with you and the Committee to fine tune this very commendable legislation, and I'd like to, if I could, insert my full statement into the record.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Yozell follows:]
STATEMENT OF SALLY YOZELL, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR OCEANS AND ATMOSPHERE, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. My name is Sally Yozell and I am the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify today on H.R. 1775, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act of 1999.
NOAA AND ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION
We appreciate the Committee's leadership in focusing on the need to protect the Nation's estuarine and coastal resources. Estuaries are an important part of our Nation's economic and environmental well-being. These special coastal places provide habitat for many important species, act as a natural water treatment system, provide flood control and protection against storm damage, and are wonderful recreational areas. Estuaries and coastal wetlands also provide essential habitat for 80-90 percent of our recreational fish catch and 75 percent of the Nation's commercial harvest.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC These natural systems are in trouble. Estuaries are suffering from water quality problems, declining habitat quality and, in some areas, significant habitat loss. We desperately need to restore these areas to help replace habitat that fish, marine mammals and endangered species need to survive and prosper.
Restoration, however, is only part of the answer for degraded estuary and coastal habitats. The other part is to prevent habitat loss and degradation through sound conservation and management programs. Nonetheless, there are many instances where restoration is the only viable alternative. We believe that NOAA's expert scientific capabilities and experience in estuary and coastal restoration programs can contribute significantly to achieving the goals of H.R. 1775, especially when coupled with the science and expertise of other Federal agencies and our state and local partners. As the Nation's premier marine and coastal science and management agency, NOAA brings together a unique combination of scientific expertise and capabilities, a combination which is needed for successful restoration of our valuable estuaries and coastal waters.
H.R. 1775 ESTUARY HABITAT RESTORATION PARTNERSHIP ACT OF 1999
I now would like to focus my remarks on several specific issues that the Subcommittee has asked NOAA to address.
f How will H.R. 1775 impact existing NOAA habitat restoration programs?
NOAA believes that H.R. 1775 will serve to complement existing habitat restoration programs in a number of ways. The national Estuary Habitat Restoration Council will help to ensure coordination and cooperation with all federally-sponsored estuarine habitat restoration efforts. The estuary habitat restoration strategy called for in H.R. 1775 should aid in keeping these programs focused on the highest priority restoration needs. We also anticipate that some restoration projects supported under H.R. 1775 can be designed in such a way as to complement those conducted by NOAA. Finally, we recognize that restoration science is still quite young and as such, the restoration efforts under this bill would enhance this body of science, especially if H.R.1775 encourages the application of innovative science and technology in its supported restoration projects.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCf What is NOAA's view on the structure of the proposed councils?
NOAA believes that a collaborative approach to decision making is important. The proposed national Estuary Habitat Restoration Council should provide for improved cooperation among Federal agencies. Our experience with collaborative efforts such as those being conducted as part of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act and Coastal America programs has demonstrated time and time again that success comes more easily when Federal agencies work together.
NOAA supports the intent of H.R. 1775 to seek out and obtain the involvement of coastal states, estuary and coastal managers, local governments, and constituents in the proposed program. Regional and local involvement in national decision-making and priority setting is critical and should be encouraged in any legislation for estuary restoration. However, NOAA is concerned that the formal nature and structure of the proposed Regional Councils could divert limited resources away from restoration projects and slow decision making. We suggest the use of regional or area workshops or advisory panels. Advisory panels are especially attractive in that they could have short or long term durations, depending on the issue or issues being addressed, and the Secretary or Council could have the flexibility to select the appropriate mix of people to serve on the panels. We have had good success with advisory panels in the management and conservation of marine resources and believe that they could help serve the needs of H.R. 1775, as well. Representatives of the regional advisory panels also could serve as ex-officio members of the national Estuary Habitat Restoration Council. We note that an August 11, 1999, Department of Justice letter outlines the Administration's concerns with a potential constitutional problem under the Appointments Clause, and we defer to the Department of Justice regarding this issue.
f What types of restoration activities could be conducted if H.R. 1775 is enacted? Habitat restoration activities could include improvement of coastal wetland tidal exchange or reestablishment of historic hydrology, dam or berm removal, fish ladder or other fish passageway improvements, natural or artificial reef/substrate/habitat creation, establishment of riparian buffer zones and improvement of freshwater habitat features that support anadromous fishes, planting of native coastal wetland and submerged aquatic vegetation, and removal of invasive vegetation. Additionally, we recommend that the habitat restoration activities include a significant research component to promote the development of innovative approaches and techniques for estuary habitat restoration. There should be a major monitoring and evaluation phase for all restoration projects, as this is the only way to gauge restoration success and advance the science of estuary restoration.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCf What does NOAA see as its main role under H.R. 1775? Does the bill provide sufficient funding and direction to carry out these activities?
NOAA sees its major role in H.R. 1775 as a contributor of the science and technology we have gained over the years in habitat restoration and in the investigation of our many coastal and estuarine ecosystems. Additionally, we see a critical role in ensuring coordination of our ongoing restoration programs with those of H.R. 1775 to minimize redundancies and to complement and capitalize on the achievements of all of the programs. We endorse the specific area of work specified for NOAA in H.R. 1775 which is to serve on the National Council and to directly support restoration efforts through the collection and management of data related to the restoration projects.
The funding as proposed in H.R. 1775 is probably adequate to address NOAA's role in establishing a monitoring database. NOAA currently is not funded and staffed to adequately support the Councils and provide the increased technical assistance that would be necessary to meet the needs from partners. We want the majority of funding under the bill to go toward on-the-ground restoration activities. However, we hope the Congress will provide a reasonable amount of funding to the Federal agencies to enable us to effectively implement this Act. We support the bill's subdivision of the authorization section, providing separate subsections for each of the following: an authorization of appropriations for restoration activities; monitoring; and a cap on administrative expenses. This is similar to the approach under the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA).
f To what extent does NOAA currently participate in estuary habitat restoration efforts? Which programs are involved and what has the agency done to coordinate its efforts with other agencies?
NOAA is engaged in a wide range of estuary habitat restoration efforts. I will briefly summarize each of the major activities in four categories as well as their coordination with other agencies.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
COASTAL WETLANDS PLANNING, PROTECTION AND RESTORATION ACT
The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) provides funding and support for the restoration, protection, conservation and enhancement of threatened wetlands in the Louisiana coastal zone. NOAA and the other participating Federal and State agencies have the opportunity to plan and implement large-scale coastal wetlands restoration projects that are significant on a local and national level. Forging partnerships within the State such as with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and local parish governments has proven critical to the success of the restoration projects. It has resulted in funding for restoration projects totaling over $65 million that are designed to address the rapid loss of
Louisiana's wetlands. For NOAA and the State of Louisiana, CWPPRA provides the hope of sustaining coastal wetlands that are important to the economic, recreational and cultural base of the State and region.
As required by CWPPRA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers established a Task Force composed of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Commerce, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the State of Louisiana. The Task Force annually prepares and submits to Congress a priority list of wetland restoration projects for Louisiana. The site selection process is based on the technical merit, cost effectiveness, and predicted wetland quantity and quality of the proposed project. The Task Force was responsible for the preparation of a comprehensive coastal Restoration Plan for the State of Louisiana, which was completed at the end of 1993. The Plan provides much of the basis for selecting restoration projects.
Each CWPPRA project requires the sponsorship of a Federal agency Task Force member for implementation. The Act uses a trust fund, which is supported by revenues from tax receipts on small engines and other equipment. Of the amount appropriated from this fund, 70 percent (an amount not to exceed $70 million annually) is available for wetland restoration projects and associated activities in Louisiana. While some 70 percent of the funds available under CWPRA are dedicated to restoring Louisiana wetlands, it is important to note that project selection is still based on merit criteria. CWPPRA mandates a cost-share of 85 percent Federal funds to 15 percent State funds for all projects.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
RESTORING ESTUARIES THROUGH TRUSTEESHIP
As a coastal steward and a designated natural resource trustee under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund), and the Oil Pollution Act, NOAA protects and restores marine and coastal resources on behalf of the public. NOAA works at hazardous waste sites with the EPA and other clean-up agencies to develop remedies to protect coastal resources, and to support habitat and human health. NOAA's Coastal Resource Coordination program works at approximately 260 hazardous waste sites a year, about 75 percent of which affect estuaries. Examples of on-going protection and restoration efforts in estuarine environments include the Tulalip Landfill in Puget Sound in Washington, the Exxon Bayway oil spill in the Arthur Kill in New York Harbor, the Apex Houston Oil Spill in Point Lobos, California, and the Greenhill oil spill in Louisiana.
NOAA's Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (DARP) restores coastal and marine resources injured by releases of oil and other hazardous materials. Since its inception, DARP and its partners have generated more than $240 million in settlement funds to restore injured coastal resources on behalf of the public from those responsible for the damage.
Through DARP, NOAA is working on a number of damage assessment cases in estuarine environments including Lake Barre in Louisiana, Commencement Bay in Washington, Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, Lavaca Bay in Texas, and Pago Pago Harbor in American Samoa. By working together with responsible parties and co-trustees to collect data, conduct assessments and carry out restoration actions, NOAA is able to restore a clean and healthy environment as quickly and effectively as possible. Most of these restoration projects are completed through cooperation with both Federal and state resource trustee agencies. This experience has reinforced the importance of partnerships and the absolute need to document restoration success for the benefit of future restoration efforts.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC NOAA's trustee activities ensure that resources are protected and restored following releases of oil and other hazardous materials, which results in more productive and diverse estuarine habitat for fish and wildlife, cleaner water, and healthier ecosystems.
COMMUNITY-BASED RESTORATION PROGRAM
In 1996, the NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center formulated the highly successful Community-Based Restoration Program (CRP). The CRP achieves habitat restoration by engaging communities in local marine and estuarine habitat restoration projects. It provides funding and technical expertise to restore coastal habitat and partners with local constituencies to accomplish meaningful, grass roots projects. In addition to seed money, the CRP provides support by leveraging expertise and funds from partner organizations. Through these partnerships, the program generates funding up to tenfold the original Federal investment. Moreover, the program seeks to promote coastal stewardship and a conservation ethic among coastal communities.
The Administration's FY2000 Budget Request includes $22.7 million of new funding for the restoration of coastal habitat. Seven million is slated for expanding the existing CRP. Almost $16 million is identified for implementing habitat restoration on a regional basis through the creation of a new, regional habitat restoration program.
NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVES
Realizing the importance of our Nation's estuaries, Congress established the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) in 1972 to improve the health of estuaries and coastal habitats. This Federal/state partnership has proven successful in managing some of our Nation's relatively pristine estuaries. Through the work of expert staff, monitoring and education programs and on-site laboratories, NOAA has developed innovative partnerships with coastal states in connection with 25 Reserves, which have resulted in improved management of nearly one million acres of estuarine waters and lands.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Although the Reserves represent some of the Nation's most valuable and relatively undisturbed estuaries, restoration in the Reserves around the Nation is still an essential activity to protect these biologically diverse areas. To date, many of the Reserves have undertaken innovative restoration projects. For example, the Chesapeake Bay Reserve in Maryland is working to address erosion and habitat loss. Areas of the Chesapeake Bay region are severely eroding from impacts of sea level rise. In an effort to deter erosion, the Reserve is currently evaluating Maryland's policies concerning the removal of invasive marsh grasses, a traditional restoration practice. An evaluation and revision of current State policies relating to salt marsh grass management in certain regions around the Chesapeake Bay may result from this work. The South Slough Reserve near Coos Bay, Oregon, has conducted restoration activities at two sites that were experiencing significant subsidence and ditch erosion. By redistributing organic material over the surface of the marsh, the Reserve was able to restore habitat used by salmon and other fish. Indicators of healthy marsh ecosystems were monitored at all the restored sites. Further work is being designed to examine different techniques for developing tidal channel habitat for salmon and other fish.
To further improve our Nation's estuaries, NOAA and the University of New Hampshire established the Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET), which serves as a national center for the development and application of innovative technology for restoration. CICEET uses the Reserves as living laboratories and is currently supporting several projects that apply innovative technologies to coastal habitat restoration.
SOUTH FLORIDA ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION
Another example where large scale habitat restoration will be carried out is in South Florida. In July, 1999, the Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force presented to Congress a $7 billion, 20 year plan to restore more natural water flows throughout the South Florida ecosystem. Restoring natural flows to the estuaries is the single most important action needed to restore the hundreds of South Florida estuaries that have been severely damaged over the past century by man-made changes in the quantity, quality and timing of freshwater delivery to the coast. The proposed plan will restore natural flows to almost all the remaining estuaries in South Florida and significantly advance overall restoration of these valuable habitats. NOAA played a key role in helping shape the restoration plan for South Florida's estuaries and other coastal areas. Working with the State of Florida and Federal agencies, NOAA will also play a key role in monitoring the progress and results of the overall South Florida ecosystem restoration effort, much of which will focus on coastal estuaries.
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f What role does NOAA anticipate for National Estuarine Reserves under H.R. 1775?
NOAA anticipates that the National Estuarine Research Reserves will play an important role in any effort to restore estuaries. The Reserves are located in 20 of 29 biogeographic subregions (including the Great Lakes), serving as representative areas to conduct research, monitoring and education on a number of topics, including habitat restoration. Restoration projects undertaken in estuaries in these same regions can use the lessons learned from the Reserves to improve restoration activities and techniques. National Estuarine Research Reserves provide many key opportunities for better estuarine habitat restoration in the Nation.
The Reserves provide lessons in ensuring the long-term success of restoration projects by taking watershed issues into consideration. Through management plans and other planning mechanisms, restoration is not undertaken in areas where activities upstream would cause degradation to restoration, thereby jeopardizing the success and viability of the projects.
One of the key opportunities that the Reserve System offers is to learn
more about which restoration techniques are most effective. The ability to use reference locations within the Reserves as a basis for comparisonnot only for Reserve projects, but also for projects in similar estuarieswill strengthen the science of restoration. The data sharing and the System-wide monitoring that are characteristic of the Reserves provide increased opportunities for useful comparisons within the Reserve System and with other estuarine projects.
H.R. 1775 recognizes that the Reserve System can play an important role and build upon their success from past estuarine habitat restoration projects by allowing the Council to give priority consideration to restoration needs within the Reserve System. This priority consideration comes about as part of the guidelines established for the Estuary Habitat Restoration Council in selecting sites. Since each Reserve develops a management plan that identifies restoration priorities, the Reserves qualify for priority consideration under Section 107(d)(1) when determining restoration projects.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Finally, Reserves are owned and operated by the states in partnership with NOAA and in cooperation with local communities. This Federal-State partnership helps to ensure that state preferences for estuarine habitat restoration are properly coordinated and that these priorities also incorporate local concerns and issues.
Additional comments on H.R. 1775, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act of 1999.
In addition to the questions posed by the Subcommittee, NOAA would like to address several other aspects of the H.R. 1775.
f NOAA agrees that priority should be given to restoration projects in areas that have area-wide restoration plans currently in place. These plans, which identify restoration goals, sites and priorities, need to be based on sound science to enable scientists to determine which efforts would most benefit the ecosystem and fit best within the socioeconomic conditions of the area.
f NOAA supports the priority given to estuarine areas that already have strong and effective programs to manage point and nonpoint pollution and other activities that can adversely impact estuarine areas. These programs will help to ensure the long-term success of the restoration projects.
f NOAA strongly suggests that the Great Lake states and the island territories and commonwealths (American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) be eligible for assistance as they have important estuarine habitats that need restoration.
f Consultation with state Coastal Zone Management programs should be mandatory to ensure consistency with state CZM policies, especially during development of state or local restoration strategies and during reviews of locally or privately sponsored project proposals. Early consultation with state CZM programs will result in a more streamlined process.
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In conclusion, as the Nation's primary marine science agency, NOAA has the proven expertise and scientific capability to assist in making sound decisions about estuarine habitat restoration. The primary lesson we have learned from our restoration activities thus far is the importance of strong science and long-term monitoring to achieve successful estuarine restoration.
I believe the Subcommittee has taken an important step in addressing these significant issues by holding this hearing today. We applaud the Subcommittee's leadership and commitment to protecting our Nation's estuarine and coastal resources and we look forward to working with you.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Ms. Yozell. We appreciate your testimony. We have a vote on. There's two votes, one 15-minute vote and one five-minute vote. We won't be able to finish the panel.
So if you don't mind, what we'll do is we'll go down and vote and we'll come right back. So we'll recess for the vote. That will give you a little bit of a break and we'll see you all in about 20 minutes.
Mr. GILCHREST. The Subcommittee will come back to order. We appreciate your patience.
Mr. Davis, you may begin.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL L. DAVIS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR CIVIL WORKS, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DAVIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee. I am Michael Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
I am very pleased to be here today to present the Department of the Army's views on H.R. 1775.
For over 200 years, the nation has called upon the Army Corps of Engineers to solve many of its water resources problems. Historically, the Corps has emphasized its flood damage reduction and navigation missions.
In recent years, however, pursuant to Water Resources Development Acts, we have elevated our environmental restoration and protection mission to a level equal to our more traditional missions. The Corps now uses its engineering, project management, real estate and environmental expertise to address environmental restoration and protection problems.
The Corps, in fact, has a powerful toolkit of authorities and programs that can be brought to bear to help solve environmental problems.
Over the last decade alone, the Corps has helped to restore hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat, benefiting hundreds of fish and wildlife species. Examples include 28,000 acres of habitat restored along the upper Mississippi River, with 100,000 acres projected by the year 2005; 35,000 acres of flood plain and wetlands restoration under construction today along the Kissimmee River in Florida, and hundreds of acres of coastal wetlands restored by beneficially using dredge material, including an 1,100 acre project in the Chesapeake Bay, known as Poplar Island.
On July 1 of this year, the Army submitted to Congress a comprehensive plan to restore the Everglades. The world's largest ecosystem restoration project, this plan will help restore over 2.4 million acres of wetlands in the south Florida ecosystem, as well as improve the health of estuaries and Florida Bay.
Throughout the world, estuarine and coastal areas serve as focal points for human use and development. These same areas also perform critical functions from an ecosystem perspective. Estuaries help protect us from flooding, help maintain water quality, and provide habitat and food for a myriad of fish and wildlife species, many of them threatened or endangered.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC These coastal environments generate billions of dollars annually through such industries as tourism, sport and recreational fisheries. There is, in fact, an urgent need to protect and restore these fragile ecosystems.
Recognizing the economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits that they provide, we applaud the co-sponsors of H.R. 1775 for their vision and leadership in this area. In particular, Mr. Chairman, we applaud you for your leadership.
If enacted, H.R. 1775 would enhance the Corps' ability to restore and protect estuarine habitat. In this regard, the Army supports enthusiastically H.R. 1775 and looks forward to working with you in enacting such legislation.
The goal of restoring one million acres of estuarine habitat by the year 2010 is consistent with the President's Clean Water Action plan goal of restoring 100,000 acres of wetlands annually beginning in the year 2005.
The proposed national framework and the national estuarine habitat restoration strategy should help partners identify and integrate existing restoration plans, integrate overlapping plans, and identify processes to develop new plans, where they are needed.
This framework document could help us maximize incentives for participation, leverage our very limited Federal resources, and minimize duplication of efforts. We recommend that the use of the existing organizational structure of the Coastal America Partnership be considered fully. Coastal America has national and regional teams already in place and many of the members of these teams will be the very same experts that we would need to consult under H.R. 1775.
The legislation is consistent with the Coastal Wetlands Preservation, Protection and Restoration Act. This legislation has created a unique multi Federal and state agency partnership which is working to restore and protect approximately 73,000 acres of coastal wetlands in Louisiana.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are pleased to note that important changes that the Army requested at a Senate committee hearing on a companion legislation, S. 1222, last Congress, had been incorporated into H.R. 1775. These changes limit Federal assistance for each habitat project to 65 percent, strengthen and clarify the role of the Secretary of the Army, and allow the restoration council to consider, where appropriate, non-governmental organizations as sponsors for environmental restoration and protection projects.
We do suggest a few additional minor modifications to further improve H.R. 1775.
For example, we urge the Committee to revise the bill to make it clear that non-Federal sponsors are responsible for providing all lands, easements, rights-of-way, dredge material, disposal areas and locations, as is required for all Army Civil Works water resources projects.
We also believe that the Secretary of the Army should make the determination regarding the acceptability and evaluation of in-kind contributions for local cost-sharing.
In addition, like my colleague from NOAA, we believe that you should consider including the Great Lakes region, which is widely recognized as a coastal region of the United States, with unique, but very similar problems and opportunities.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to briefly mention an issue that you are very familiar with, an issue that seriously threatens our wetlands resources.
As a result of a court decision that invalidated the Army and EPA Tulloch rule, tens of thousands of acres of wetlands will be lost to unregulated drainage and excavation. While we recognize that this Committee does not have direct jurisdiction over this issue, the Administration feels very strongly that H.R. 1775 and any bill designed to strengthen the protection of estuarine and coastal habitats should address what is perhaps the most serious threat to water quality and coastal and other waters of this country.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Otherwise, the current loophole promises to defeat the laudable goals of H.R. 1775.
Mr. Chairman, last night at midnight, I returned from a three-day trip in the panhandle of Florida, where I witnessed firsthand the ditching and drainage of thousands of acres of what was formerly Cypress Swamp. Not only do we have the direct impacts, loss of habitat, which is very valuable to our fish and wildlife species, the water draining from this land runs directly into Apalachicola Bay, which provides 10 percent of the oysters to this country. It's a very serious problem.
In conclusion, the Corps has been increasingly involved in recent years with efforts to protect and restore our estuaries. We have enjoyed very much working with you and your staff on H.R. 1775 and we look forward to continuing this relationship as we both move towards enacting this important piece of legislation.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my testimony and I'd be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Davis follows:]
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL L. DAVIS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR CIVIL WORKS
Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Michael L. Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. I am here today to discuss the Army Corps of Engineers environmental restoration and protection mission and present the Department of the Army's views on H.R. 1775, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act of 1999.
ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS ENVIRONMENTAL MISSION
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For over 200 years the Nation has called upon the Army Corps of Engineers to solve many of its water resources problems. Historically, the Corps has emphasized its traditional mission areas of improving our navigation and transportation system, protecting our local communities from flood damages and other disasters, and maintaining and improving hydropower facilities across the country. The Corps environmental activities have expanded over time with major changes in environmental law and policy, such as the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, which requires each Federal agency to assess fully its actions affecting the environment, and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 (now called the Clean Water Act) in which the Corps was given a major responsibility for regulating the discharge of dredged or fill material into all of our Nation's waters, including wetlands. In recent years, however, pursuant to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1986 and subsequent WRDAs, the Corps has elevated its environmental restoration and protection mission to a status equal to its flood damage reduction and navigation missions. The Corps now uses its engineering, project management, real estate, and environmental expertise to address environmental restoration and protection opportunities.
The Corps has a powerful toolkit of standing authorities and programs that can be brought to bear to help solve environmental problems. Over the last decade alone the Corps has helped to restore hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat of many types which benefit thousands of fish and wildlife species, Examples include: 28,000 acres of habitat restored for the Upper Mississippi River (98,000 projected by 2005); hundreds of acres of coastal wetlands restored in Louisiana; 35,000 acres of restored flood plain under construction as part of the Kissimmee River Restoration Project in the Florida; and, hundreds of acres of coastal wetlands restored under authorities which authorize the Corps to beneficially use dredged material for ecosystem restoration.
On July 1, the Army submitted to Congress a comprehensive plan to restore the Everglades, the world's largest ecosystem restoration project. This plan will help protect, enhance and restore over 2.4 million acres of wetlands in the south Florida Ecosystem as well as improve the health of estuaries and Florida Bay.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are especially proud of our efforts on all coasts in conjunction with the Coastal America initiative. Some examples of projects where the Corps, using its programs, led multi-agency, multi-level efforts (Federal, State, local and private) include: restoration of a coastal salt marsh area in the Galilee Bird Sanctuary, Rhode Island; the initial demonstration area for restoration of tidal wetlands in the Sonoma Baylands, California; the Sagamore Salt Marsh Restoration, Massachusetts; initiation of actions to restore 1100 acres to provide riparian and submerged habitat at Poplar Island, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland; and, shoreline stabilization and submerged aquatic vegetation restoration around Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay. Our FY 2000 budget request includes study funds for 12 potential projects directed at protecting or restoring the benefits of estuaries, as well as funding for many other activities that would be beneficial to the environment in or adjacent to our Nation's estuaries.
SIGNIFICANCE OF ESTUARINE AND COASTAL AREAS
Throughout the world, estuarine and coastal areas serve as focal points for human use and development. These same areas also perform critical functions from an ecosystem perspective, providing habitat and food for myriad fish and wildlife species. Estuaries are unique in that they serve as a transition zone between inland freshwater systems and uplands, and ocean marine systems. There is an urgent need to protect and restore these ecosystems recognizing the economic, social, and environmental benefits they provide. In this regard, we would add as a purpose of the bill the need to promote a greater public appreciation and awareness of the value of our estuary and coastal resources. As with many environmental issues, future generations depend upon our actions today.
Legislation to expand the authority of the Corps to use its unique skills and experience to restore and protect estuary habitat would add to the Corps environmental portfolio. Let me assure you that the Department of the Army therefore is prepared to take a leadership role in reaching the goals of H.R. 1775. Army would approach implementation of H.R. 1775 in accordance with the policies and procedures which grew out of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1986, subsequent WRDAs, and long-standing partnership and public involvement practices.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Additionally, Army would explore the possibility of using the existing organization and structure of the Coastal America partnership to jump-start restoration efforts. Coastal America has National and Regional Implementation Teams already in place, and many of the members of these teams would be the very same experts we would consult with under H.R. 1775.
I would now like to focus on the Department of the Army views on H.R. 1775. The Department of the Army supports efforts to enhance coordination and efficiently finance environmental restoration and protection projects. The goal of restoring 1 million acres of estuary habitat by the year 2010 is in consonance with the President's Clean Water Action Plan and the goal of a net increase of 100,000 acres of wetlands, annually, beginning in the year 2005. We also agree with the philosophical basis for the legislation, that estuaries and coastal areas are being degraded rapidly, and that there is an urgent need to attain self-sustaining, ecologically-based systems that are integrated into surrounding landscapes. The proposed national framework, or national estuary habitat restoration strategy, to be completed at the end of the first year, should help partners identify and integrate existing restoration plans, integrate overlapping plans, and identify processes to develop new plans where they are needed. This framework document could help us maximize incentives for participation, leverage Federal resources, and minimize duplication of efforts. We support the requirement to publish the draft strategy in the Federal Register for review and comment to enhance public involvement. We believe that the legislation is consistent with the National Estuary Program (NEP), which was established to manage and protect aquatic ecosystems in coastal watersheds, and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, which uses science to improve management of estuaries. The NEP strives to protect and restore habitat through consensus and initiatives which are community-based. The legislation also is consistent with the Coastal Wetlands Preservation Protection and Restoration Act, a unique multi-Federal and State agency partnership which is working to restore and protect approximately 73,000 acres of coastal wetlands in Louisiana over a 20-year period.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are pleased to note that important changes that the Army requested at a Senate Committee hearing held on companion legislation, S. 1222, last Congress have been incorporated into H.R. 1775. These changes limit Federal assistance for each habitat project to 65 percent, strengthen the role of the Secretary of the Army commensurate with the need for accountability for appropriations received, and allow the Restoration Council to consider, where appropriate, non-governmental organizations as sponsors for environmental restoration and protection projects. H.R. 1775 is a bill that the Department of the Army could support.
We urge the Committee to revise the bill to make clear that non-Federal sponsors are responsible for providing all lands, easements, rights-of-way, dredged material disposal areas and relocations, as is required for Army Civil Works water resources projects. We also believe the Secretary should make the determination as to the acceptability and valuation of in-kind contributions for local cost sharing, rather than the proposed Council.
We urge you to consider expanding the geographic scope of the habitat protection and restoration activities proposed in H.R. 1775 to include the Great Lakes region, which faces many of the same challenges as coastal regions of the United States. This coastal region has many ecosystem problems that mirror those of more traditional coastal areas and has, for that reason, been included as a coastal region in the programs authorized under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended, and in the Administration's Coastal America Initiative. We believe that the addition of a regional council representing the Great Lakes region, to include the States of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, merits serious consideration.
Many environmental restoration techniques and approaches are new, and when dealing with natural systems, there is a need to test new ideas, learn from successful and not so successful projects, and manage adaptively to adjust to ever-changing conditions. Environmental restoration efforts for the Everglades, the Upper Mississippi River System Environmental Management Program, and the Coastal Wetlands Preservation Protection and Restoration Act, all acknowledge, to varying degrees, the value of demonstration projects and adaptive assessment approaches. Adding to H.R. 1775 a demonstration component with a cost share that is consistent with that applied to habitat projects, and a requirement for non-Federal sponsors to manage adaptively, would encourage the partners to try out new ideas and learn more about how to restore and protect estuary and coastal areas.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While we recognize that this Committee does not have direct jurisdiction over this issue, it is important to note that the Administration feels strongly that H.R. 1775, and any bill purporting to strengthen protection of estuarine and coastal habitat, should address the most serious threat to water quality in coastal and other waters by closing a regulatory gap that threatens the loss of tens of thousands of acres of wetlands to drainage and excavation each year. This gap, which resulted from a court decision invalidating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers ''Tulloch'' rule requiring permits for drainage and channelization that affect our Nation's wetland resources, promises to defeat the laudable goals of H.R. 1775 unless Congress takes prompt action.
We applaud the co-sponsors of H.R. 1775 for their vision and leadership in this area. The Army supports H.R. 1775 and looks forward to working with you and your Senate counterparts in enacting such legislation.
The Corps has been increasingly involved in recent years with efforts to protect and restore the benefits of estuaries and their surrounding habitat. The Department of the Army is also looking forward to working with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Interior, and Transportation, and the non-Federal participants in the designated coastal regions, to restore and protect our nation's estuary habitat. You can be assured that Army Civil Works is committed to making partnerships work. Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or the Subcommittee may have.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Davis. Mr. Frazer.
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STATEMENT OF GARY D. FRAZER. ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR ECOLOGICAL SERVICES, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
Mr. FRAZER. Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I'm Gary Frazer, Assistant Director for Ecological Services of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Service supports H.R. 1775 and commends you, Mr. Chairman, and the co-sponsors for introducing this important legislation. Estuaries provide vital habitat for a great many of our nation's fish, shellfish, migratory birds, and threatened and endangered species.
The Service has broad authority and extensive involvement in the protection of these important resources. The Service administers two grant programs that provide funding to states and local organizations to protect and restore coastal habitat. In addition, through the national wetlands inventory program, the service creates hard-copy and digital maps of all wetlands and deep water habitats of the United States, including estuaries.
The Service's primary program for on-the-ground restoration and protection of estuaries is our coastal program. Through the coastal program, Service biologists provide technical and financial assistance in coastal habitat protection and restoration to a host of partners, including other Federal agencies, states and local organizations. Such partnerships facilitate the efficient transfer of funds to on-the-ground restoration projects.
Over the past five years, the Service's coastal program partnerships have protected more than 97,000 acres of coastal habitats through conservation easements and acquisition. We opened almost 2,000 miles of coastal streams for anadromous fish passage, restored more than 28,000 acres of coastal wetlands, restored almost 16,000 acres of coastal upland habitat, and restored 235 miles of coastal stream habitat.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Such accomplishments have been made possible through extensive coordination with other agencies, initiation of interagency projects, and active participation with the Environmental Protection Agency and state partners in implementing fish and wildlife aspects of the national estuary program.
If H.R. 1775 were enacted, the Service anticipates that it would support coordinated efforts to carry out larger-scale restoration projects, such as restoration of submerged aquatic vegetation and oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay, removal of exotic plants to restore bird habitat in south Florida, restoration of salt marshes in coastal Louisiana, restoration of coastal wetlands critical to endangered species in Hawaii.
As the Federal lead for fish and wildlife conservation, the Service can bring a living resource focus to the council and promote the selection of projects that benefit fish and wildlife resources and their habitats.
The Service biologists can provide assistance and support to the regional councils throughout the grant proposal, selection, implementation and monitoring processes outlined in H.R. 1775.
The Service's coastal program biologists and joint venture coordinators have built trusting relationships with the numerous partners in the field and have the delivery mechanisms in place to quickly convert grant funds to tangible results.
The Service can also play an important role in project monitoring and determining whether flora and fauna return successfully to the restored area, which is the ultimate test of whether restoration has truly been accomplished.
The Committee has asked if we believe that there is sufficient funding in the bill for the Service to carry out its activities. Our coastal program currently is not funded and staffed to adequately support the councils and provide the increased technical assistance that would be necessary to meet the needs from partners.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Service is very sensitive to the issue of more money being targeted to support the grants program. We want the majority of funding under the bill to go toward on-the-ground restoration activities. However, we hope the Congress will provide a reasonable amount of funding to the Federal agencies to enable us to effectively implement this Act.
The Service endorses the bill's provision to reauthorize the Federal Interagency Chesapeake Bay program, in which the Service participates as an advisory member via the coastal and fisheries programs, and we also recommend that H.R. 1775 include the Great Lakes region by creating a seventh regional council under section 105 of the bill.
With these comments and suggestions, the Service believes that H.R. 1775 is a valuable bill that will encourage Federal agencies to work together and develop partnerships with states and communities for estuary habitat restoration. Much of the necessary planning has been done, but the improved coordination measures and funding authorizations provided in this legislation will speed the process of converting such plans to tangible, on-the-ground projects that benefit fish, wildlife, and the American people.
We strongly support the spirit and intent of H.R. 1775 and look forward to working with Congress to pass the legislation this year.
Thank you. I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Frazer follows:]
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Frazer.
Mr. Davis, just a quick question on restoring the Everglades and the Corps of Engineers' area of responsibility.
How do you restore the Everglades? If you could answer this in less than five minutes. How do you restore the Everglades, and then is the Corps of Engineers in any way responsible forif you restore the Everglades, that means you have toI would assume you have to have some land that will filter out some of the water that flows through it, straighten out some of the canals or rivers that wereI mean, take away the straight arrow shot of some of the rivers, put the curves back in.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC How do you go through this process as far asI would assume there's going to be some easements, there has to be some land purchase. There's got to be a great deal done to the physical infrastructure in order to implement this restoration.
Mr. DAVIS. The answer is yes, if you want a short answer. You can really sum up how you restore the Everglades with four words. It's the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of water. Those four factors are what it's all about.
We first have to capture some of the 1.7 billion gallons of water that goes out to the oceans wasted every day, on average.
Mr. GILCHREST. Is there a plan to do that now, a strategy?
Mr. DAVIS. Yes.
Mr. GILCHREST. With land purchase?
Mr. DAVIS. Yes.
Mr. GILCHREST. Between the state, private sector, the Federal Government and different Federal agencies.
Mr. DAVIS. Yes. There's a very extensive land acquisition program between the Corps, the Department of Interior, the South Florida Water Management District, county governments, like Dade County and others, where we're going to literally be buying hundreds of thousands of acres of land. In fact, we've already bought tens of thousands of acres of land right now, setting it aside so
Mr. GILCHREST. Are these from willing sellers? Was the condemnation process used at all or may it be used in this process?
Mr. DAVIS. For the most part, the land that's been purchased to date has been from willing sellers. I would suspect, however, that before it's over, there would be some condemnation of land required, but I think for the most part, what's been purchased to date has been from willing sellers.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. How would this bill, H.R. 1775, and you said it would help enhance the Corps' ability to restore estuaries. How would it help restore estuaries, H.R. 1775?
Mr. DAVIS. First and foremost, I think it sends a signal that restoring estuaries would be a national priority, that it's something that is important to the nation, that it puts a spotlight on these important resources.
Secondly, it provides an organizing framework, so we can all be more efficient. It's not just the Corps. It will help all of the agencies, the Federal Government, state level, local level, the private sector, the non-profit organizations, help us coordinate so that we can very efficiently use our funds.
We've seen this happen. It's funny that it takes perhaps something as simple as some kind of organizational structure to make things work, but Coastal America is a very good example, where you have a program that required no additional Federal money, but it was a framework for Federal agencies, in particular, to sit at the table and set some priorities and look at the respective authorities and tools and coordinate, and we've put some real important projects on the ground doing that.
This would let us take another big leap and do it on a much larger scale.
Mr. GILCHREST. You mentioned Coastal America. Is the framework suitable? You had a couple of comments on it. But is the framework a pretty good reflection of the framework in which Coastal America now functions?
Mr. DAVIS. It's a fairly good reflection. I think Coastal America, like the bill, has a national body, a task force, if you will, that kind of oversees, from a policy perspective, and then you have regional implementation teams that are really out on the ground, the agency folks that are getting the work done.
So to that extent, it does mirror the national council, regional council structure that you have in your bill.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. Could the Coastal America framework be the framework of H.R. 1775?
Mr. DAVIS. I think perhaps with some modifications, that it could be, yes. I think, again, what I would suggest would happen is that the same people that are generally doing the Coastal America project, they're going to be the same types of people, at least within the Federal agencies that will be helping us implement H.R. 1775.
Mr. GILCHREST. You said that H.R. 1775 would create a more efficient system to implement the restoration projects. So the restoration projects that are now underway are hit-and-miss? They seem to be successful in Florida, with the massive effort there. They seem to be somewhat successful other places.
But on a national level, the framework, however it mirrors Coastal America or however this council system is structured, would provide a more efficient flow of information, dollars, implementation.
Mr. DAVIS. I think it will. I think that we have witnessed a lot of successful coastal restoration around the country currently and I would expect that would continue.
But what this bill could do is it pulls us together and it forces us to set priorities, perhaps looking at watersheds, stepping back from a project by project approach, looking at where we need to target our resources across Federal agencies, state agencies and other levels of government.
We do that at times now, but there's no real mandate to do that and I think this would help create that.
Mr. GILCHREST. I see. I have a couple more questions, but I'm going to yield right now to the gentleman from American Samoa.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I certainly want to thank the members of the panel for their testimony. I do have a couple of questions.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I note with interest the proposed billperhaps many Americans don't realize it, but over 50 percent of our nation's population live in the coastal areas of our country; 75 percent of the commercial fishing industry is entirely dependent on these estuaries; and, 80 to 90 percent of the recreational fishing industry is also dependent on these very important areas.
In all the years that I've been in the Committee hearings, Mr. Chairman, I have never seen the Administration, three different Federal agencies, all agreeing to a bill within a three month period of when it was introduced. I've never heard of this ever happening, Mr. Chairman, and I certainly want to commend you for this proposed legislation, which I think is not only very important, but I certainly hope that we will move it with due speed.
I'm sure the Chairman and myself, we're very sensitive to the idea of duplication, the idea of being overly bureaucratic about any given issue in the problems that we deal with in the Federal Government.
So I suppose the bill is being introduced and now we have the Federal agencies coming to testify and say whether or not you already have the capabilities of handling this problem that we're addressing.
I wanted to ask Ms. Yozell. I had mentioned earlier in my statement that when you talk about estuaries, you're talking about a global total dollar value of about $4 trillion involved. Within our own country, what is it, $56,000 per acre, approximately, in terms of the dollar.
About how many acres are we looking at nationwide in our own country? Do we have any statistics on that?
Ms. YOZELL. We do. In fact, I was just looking at a report last night that EPA puts out, through their monitoring program. They have assessed the quality of about 72 percent of our estuaries, about 30,000 square miles, and they found that 38 percent are very impaired. If you use the ratio for the remaining percent to that would translate into about 11 million acres.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So this bill seeks to address 10 percent, which is a great start when you think of how many really there are.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. This is just for starters, 11 million acres, that's just for starters.
Ms. YOZELL. The 11 million acres is what we estimate, and I'll have to say it's very rough. EPA has determined that roughly about 11 million acres are impaired, and the legislation before us aims to start out with addressing a million. So that's roughly about 10 percent, or 11 percent.
And we think that is a great start, because we know that it is going to be difficult by its very nature.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. You had also indicated earlier, Ms. Yozell, that you spoke very highly of the Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection and Restoration Act program that is now ongoing in Louisiana. Can you elaborate on that? What are some of the features that perhaps we can take from Louisiana and incorporate on a nationwide basis, what the bill proposes?
Ms. YOZELL. Absolutely. And I will note that in the Senate side, we call it the Breaux Act, but on the House side, we call it the CWPPRA.
It's a fantastic process that we've developed there and I think the best part about it is the collaboration. It's collaborative amongst all of the Federal agencies you see here at the table, as well as othersthe state, local partnersand it's really an on-the-ground effort.
For example, if one agency has a particular expertise in an area that's being restored, they sort of run that project. If another agency has expertise in another area, they do the same. So EPA will run a project, the Corps will run a project, or NOAA will run a project for expamle.
But overall, I think it's the collaborative nature, it's the on-the-ground nature, and most of the money goes to on-the-ground projects. I think it's about 10 percent that goes for administration.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. What I'm most appreciative of is that we're seeing three Federal agencies all being very collaborative and being very positive in their approaches and saying let's solve the problem.
I've heard time and time in hearings the agencies fighting among themselves and then expecting us to solve the problem. Again, I wanted to ask Ms. Yozell, can you provide an example of where there are any current existing programs that are working together in a way that perhapsgiving us some signals on how we can approach and develop this legislation, that could be most helpful.
Ms. YOZELL. Sure. I think Michael pointed to one that's very successful, which is the South Florida restoration effort. I sit on the task force and NOAA really offers our expertise in monitoring and the scientific issues as we replum the overall Everglades, and Interior has their expertise. So that's one that does work very well.
I think Michael also hit upon the Coastal America program, where we are all together, working together.
This is very, very beneficial to us to have us all sort of thrown together to develop a plan together, because we're all so busy and we have so many programs that are working to address estuary and wetland restoration, but we're not always certain what the other is doing. And I think bringing us together and developing a plan would be very effective.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Davis, there is a view among some circles that the Corps of Engineers, they tend to go out there and dredge things, build bridges, and make things dirty.
How could the Corps of Engineers ever be considered as an environmentalist, if your job is to go out there and destroy the reefs and make landfills and build airports and do all these kind of good things that supposedly destroy the estuaries, rather than restore them?
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DAVIS. That's an interesting question. When I look at what the Corps is all about, I see something different. First of all, if you ask the people what the Corps is all about, they would say dredging and flood control and environmental destruction. I would submit to you that it's different. I submit to you what the Corps is about is solving problems. For over 200 years, this nation has called on its Army Corps of Engineers to solve problems and society asked the Corps of Engineers, in response to a couple of devastating hurricanes in 1947, to go down and drain the south Florida Everglades. The State of Florida, and the Congressional leadership, asked the Corps to go down there and do a project.
We did it and, fortunately, we were very successful. We drained the Everglades. And we've been asked all over the country to do those things. Today I think society and the Congress and certainly this Administration is asking the Corps of Engineers to do other things.
And I guess the biggest test of whether we're serious about that is where we're putting our money. If you look at 1992, about 2 percent of the Corps' Civil Works budget, which is typically about $4 billion a year, about 2 percent of that budget went to environmental restoration and protection.
In the President's fiscal year 2000 request, about 25 percent of the Corps' budget goes to environmental restoration and protection. So we are very serious today and you are absolutely right, we do have a little bit of a problem with our image and we're trying to rehabilitate that and show people we are very serious about this part of our mission.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Let's talk about the Everglades. I've been to the Everglades and, interestingly enough, I think the Corps of Engineers wasyou built how many miles long ditches?
Mr. DAVIS. Hundreds of miles.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Hundreds of miles ditches and as a result, we're having a serious problem with the Miccosukee tribe, and the people there owned this whole area before westerners ever came to Florida, and we're having that very serious problem. How do you help this tribe that was there before we came?
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DAVIS. We are working very closely not only with the Nukasukis, but the Seminole tribe, and they are represented on this task force that Sally and I serve on and they have an equal role to play in terms of helping us shape the overall restoration plan.
I can assure you that the Nukasuki and Seminole issues are in the front of our minds every time we make decisions about how to replum the water, how to move the water, and we're looking at their interests fully.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. You notice that in the bill, there's authorization of $220 million for a five-year period. Do you consider that a sufficient and adequate amount to kind of get the program going, if this bill is enacted?
Mr. DAVIS. I think it's a very good start. There's a lot of very good work, with that amount of money. Many of the projects that we're talking about are not necessarily all that expensive. It involves things like changing culverts, getting tidal flow back into areas. So some of the things are not that expensive.
Others will be much larger projects and will take a lot more money, but I think that amount of money and it's cost-shared, the way the bill lays out, will be a very good start for us.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. About what percentage of the entire budget of the Corps of Engineers is committed towards estuary considerations?
Mr. DAVIS. Of that 25 percent that goes to the environment, I couldn't tell you how much of that goes to estuarine and restoration, but I can get that number for you, for the record. It's a fairly large amount. We've got a lot of coastal projects going on right now., such as Sonoma Bay-lands in California. We've just completed a restoration project that Senator Chafee was involved in in Rhode Island.
So we've got dozens of these things around the country going on right now. So it's a fairly large amount of money.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Of the FY 2000 appropriated funds for environmental activities, over $33 million is committed to estuary related projects. Most of these are still in the planning and design stages.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman, I know my time is up, but is all right if I ask another question? You're the boss. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Frazer, it's my understanding that a report was released last year that identified over 65 separate programs scattered over seven different Federal agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, providing funding for estuary and coastal wetlands restoration.
Can you give us your sense of evaluation how that would fit into the provisions of H.R. 1775?
Mr. FRAZER. I think one of the strengths of H.R. 1775 is its national strategy to identify the various programs out there, the needs, and to put them into a coordinated framework so that the pieces can become greater, when they become pulled together. You, in fact, have greater capability than individual parts could do in terms of advancing estuary restoration independently.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has got several programs that we administer. Many of our efforts, particularly through our coastal program, seek to work to coordinate the various restoration programs and to bring a living resource focus to those already. This bill would provide a framework, as well as additional dollars, to be able to advance large-scale and effective restoration projects.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. With the assistance of our three most valued Federal agency representatives here before us, could you give us an idea that perhaps the Administration will be helpful in moving this legislation as expeditiously as possible? We would appreciate if you would let us know as soon as possible areas that you think that could be strengthened, areas that you think of the bill that we could work on, so that we can get this thing moving; do you foresee any problems ahead, as far as the Administration is concerned, on this?
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I think you've got a winner here. Thank you very much.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Faleomavaega. I know there is another panel. I just have a couple of very short questions. I know Ms. Woolsey is here in the back waiting to introduce somebody.
Ms. Yozell, could you tell us, in as a specific way as you can, how you think H.R. 1775 could help with an oyster restoration program, which I'm assuming now can be a part of this habitat restoration idea, how H.R. 1775 would help NMFS pool resources to build oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay?
Ms. YOZELL. Absolutely. As you pointed out earlier, 1 percent, that's pretty dismal when you think of what used to exist with regard to oyster sites throughout the bay. So there's a lot of work that can be done.
And I know that recently, in June, the Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration report came out and really highlighted three areas that are essential if we're going to get oyster restoration throughout the bay.
It talks about how we need three-dimensional reef habitat and that we need to create reef sanctuaries for the brood stock, and that we have to stop the practice of moving diseased oyster around the bay.
So those are the issues that have been identified. Now, you know that NOAA doesn't spend a lot of money or nowhere near the amount of money that we need to take on these kinds of issues and address it. I think we have $450,000 in an oyster bed restoration program and we do some research through Sea Grant.
So by having these funds, we can collaboratively, one, work with other agencies; and two, work with the Chesapeake Bay program, the states and the locals, and really benefit in doing strong and important restoration. Those three issues I outlined, they do take money, they do take time, and they take human resources, and this will enable us to do exactly that, and I think it's an excellent, excellent opportunity for us to help bring the oysters back to the bay.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you. Do you have an opinion on whether the money that would go through the councils and the agencies that would implement these policies would be grant dollars or, like the quorum, I would ask Mike the same question, what is the difference between a grant program and a project program? Do you have an opinion on that?
Ms. YOZELL. Basically, the difference is, as we have under CWPPRA, an agency runs the project and so that's a program and that has worked very effectively. Under the grants program, it's a particular grant to an entity and there's criteria, but we may not be as involved or be able to offer our expertise and experiences.
I believe we've been leaning towardsand I'll let Michael answer that from the Corps' point of view, since he'll be sort of running the structure and they have their own issues thereI believe we're leaning towards a program setup through the Corps mechanism.
Mr. GILCHREST. Which would then be more project-oriented as opposed to grant-oriented.
Ms. YOZELL. Correct.
Mr. GILCHREST. Do you think there could be some formula where there could be a mix in the same legislation, a mix of projects and grants?
Ms. YOZELL. Yes. For example, let me use the example of our community-based restoration program. We provide grants, small grants, and, as Michael pointed out, it can be anything from just moving a culvert or a drain, and those are small projects and they're grants to communities, and I think they work very well.
So it would be good if we could somehow accommodate both grants and programs.
Mr. GILCHREST. Mike, any comment?
Mr. DAVIS. I think for the most part, the Army would prefer that it's a project-oriented program and there are several reasons. The science of ecosystem restoration is still relatively new and we're learning a lot of things as each project that we put on the ground, we're learning. We're also learning that things that look good on paper often don't work out that way on the ground. There are some unintended consequences, sometimes negative, sometimes positive.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I would caution that we need to make sure that we have the right amount of analysis done before we just march off and start building something or doing something. So for the most part, I think that we need the analytical framework that we use to put projects on the ground and have the Federal Government, including the Corps and the other agencies, provide that technical type of review.
It may be possible, however, to build on your suggestion, there may be some threshold below which you could have a kind of a grant type of program for very, very small problems, where it was just obvious to everybody that that was the right thing to do and the results were going to be very positive to the environment.
But generally, I think that we ought to be very careful and make sure that we maintain kind of the Federal analysis that we think is needed to make sure that we end up with the right result.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you. Mr. Frazer, do you have a comment on that?
Mr. FRAZER. Well, restoration and coastal zone is technically difficult. It poses special challenges. Expertise in those sorts of restoration projects is very important to ensure success.
The Federal Government, Federal agencies certainly do have and have accumulated a great deal of expertise and some of the benefits of Federal agencies working together and managing projects are demonstrated through the Coastal America program.
But there is also a tremendous interest and desire for states and local governments to have the resources and assistance in carrying out their restoration programs.
So a melding of the two would have some great benefit. The diversity of approaches can provide a greater coverage than any one single approach.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you. If I may, this is the last question. Mr. Frazer, could you tell us, briefly, how do you restore an estuary and how do you keep it restored? Briefly.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FRAZER. Circumstances differ wherever you go, but basically the key to restoration is to understand what changes have occurred to the natural processes that are key to sustaining the function and productivity of an estuarine system. Sometimes it's modification of tidal flow.
An estuary really is an area in which salt water and fresh waters mix and the changes to the hydrology of an estuary can have dramatic effects on living systems.
Sometimes the changes have to do with development in adjacent uplands and pollutant inputs into the estuarine system. Sometimes it's related to invasion of exotic species.
So there's any number of threats of changes that occur to an estuary and the restoration is dependent upon being able to identify those threats and putting in place effective strategies and monitoring to ensure then that your restoration activities are, in fact, effective.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much. Each of you has mentioned the Great Lakes. We won't go into that at this point, but I'm sure we'll be in contact with you to further discuss that issue. We may have to change the timing of the bill, though, if we include or say ''and the Great Lakes, restore estuary habitat and fresh water of the Great Lakes,'' but those are considerations that we'll take under advisement and do our best.
We certainly appreciate all your testimony here this morning. It has been extremely helpful. Thank you very much.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman, I would like unanimous consent to allow our friend and good colleague, the gentlelady from California, to invite her to sit with us on the dais. I'd like to also ask unanimous consent that she be permitted to introduce our dear friend that is going to be also testifying at our Committee hearing this afternoon.
Mr. GILCHREST. Without objection. I would also like to ask unanimous consent that Chairman Saxton's statement be included in the record. Hearing no objection, that will be done.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Saxton follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Today we will hear testimony from our distinguished witnesses regarding Congressman Wayne Gilchrest's (MD 1st) bill, H.R. 1775, to catalyze estuary restoration and coordinate Federal estuarine activities. This is an excellent bill, and this action is long overdue from the Federal Government. I am a cosponsor of this measure, and I commend Mr. Gilchrest for his leadership on this issue. I remain committed to attacking the problems facing this nation's estuaries and to restoring degraded coastal habitat.
Over a decade ago, Congress created the National Estuary Program to address serious environmental problems in estuaries of national significance. These problems include polluted runoff, habitat loss, development pressure, and harmful algal blooms. Unfortunately, despite a significant amount of planning, very little effort has been made to implement comprehensive conservation and management plans or to actively restore the most seriously degraded estuarine areas. I am pleased that today we are taking positive steps to improve this unacceptable situation.
H.R. 1775 will, for the first time, coordinate Federal agencies with the responsibility for estuary management. This is an idea whose time is long overdue. H.R. 1775 also provides funding to implement estuary management plans, undertake habitat restoration activities, and prevent further losses. H.R. 1775 requires a non-Federal partner to provide matching funds for estuary restoration projects. I am a strong supporter of requiring local or state matching funds for these types of activities. Building local support and including the citizens who live and work near these estuaries strengthens the program and will result in long-term benefits for the natural resources that are dependent on these areas.
I fully support Mr. Gilchrest's bill as well as other efforts to address problems in the coastal zone. Not only am I a cosponsor of H.R. 1775, but I have introduced a companion bill, H.R. 1237, that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to use funds appropriated for the National Estuary Program to be used, for the first time, to implement comprehensive conservation and management plans. I will also continue to urge the reauthorization of the Coastal Zone Management Act. H.R. 2669, the Coastal Community Conservation Act, which this Subcommittee approved on August 5, 1999, includes provisions for increasing local involvement in coastal zone management and it reauthorizes the National Estuarine Reserve System. Together with H.R. 1775, these measures will have a positive impact on our coastal resources well into the 21st century.
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Mr. GILCHREST. Our first, Richard Ribb, of Rhode Island, Narragansett Bay, is here with us this afternoon; Mike Hirshfield, from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, thank you so much for coming. Richard and Mike, we appreciate all the work you've done in your particular areas to restore those estuaries. And now I will yield to you.
Ms. WOOLSEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am really honored and I thank you very much for letting me come here today to introduce somebody that is very important to me and to my district, to the State of California, and to the United States of America and our environmental protection.
But I also want to thank you because I am here to support H.R. 1775, and I want you to know that and I am on your bill and I know that it, too, is going to be very important for this nation.
Now, why is Grant Davis so important to me?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. He's handsome.
Ms. WOOLSEY. Yes, he is handsome, but that's not why. Grant is either to blame or to be given credit, a great deal of it, for my running for Congress in the first place. So it depends on where you are on that, that you'll appreciate my appreciation for Grant.
Mr. GILCHREST. So Grant didn't support the Republican candidate.
Mr. DAVIS. Sorry, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Great American, great American.
Ms. WOOLSEY. And then once I was elected, Grant came onto my staff, for over five years, and he was an extremely valuable member of my district staff, providing the essential help and information that our offices required and our district required regarding environmental issues.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now he has gone on to be the Executive Director of the Bay Institute and in that position, it is a major step up, he is now helping the State of California, the entire Bay Area within the State of California, and it has direct results to what is going on in the United States of America regarding bay lands and estuaries and wetlands.
And as I said, Mr. Chairman, I also want to support your Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act, because I see this as legislation that is an invaluable step toward the conservation of our estuaries and our nation's most prized resources.
I am certain that today Grant Davis' testimony will add credibility to H.R. 1775 and the great importance of this issue.
So thank you again for letting me do this, so I can personally let this young man know how valuable he is to all of us in my district.
Thank you very much.
Mr. GILCHREST. We thank the gentlelady from California. At this point, I guess we look forward to your testimony, gentlemen, and we can start with Mr. Ribb.
STATEMENT OF RICHARD RIBB, DIRECTOR, NARRAGANSETT BAY ESTUARY PROGRAM, RHODE ISLAND DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT
Mr. RIBB. Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, my name is Richard Ribb. I'm the Director of the Narragansett Bay National Estuary Program in Rhode Island, and I am presenting testimony regarding H.R. 1775 on behalf of the Association of National Estuary Programs, or ANEP, for short.
We appreciate the opportunity to present our views on the protection and restoration of our nation's estuaries and on the linkage between the NEPs and this bill.
ANEP is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a common vision for the protection and restoration of the nation's bays and estuaries. Members of ANEP include representatives of industry, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, trade, and citizen groups, who volunteer their time to develop and implement the estuary management plans created under the National Estuary Program.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We appreciate that the Subcommittee is turning its attention to the state of critical habitat in our estuaries through the introduction of this bill. The Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act, introduced by Mr. Gilchrest, clearly recognizes the importance of estuarine habitat for the ecological and economic health of the nation.
ANEP strongly supports H.R. 1775. Those of us work with citizens and municipalities across the nation on coastal habitat restoration projects see the funding and support provided by this bill as a vital resource in meeting community goals for habitat restoration.
In passing this bill, Congress would make the Federal Government a real partner with the states in restoring these resources. In terms of local input, ANEP supports a regional council composition that is inclusive and broad-based, bringing many perspectives into decision-making, while building wide support for its actions.
You've heard from the Federal agency representives here on how this bill would impact their agencies. I'd like to speak a little to the other side of the coin, about how the National Estuary Programs represent a community-based approach to organizing and meeting local habitat restoration needs and how the program acts as a conduit between Federal, state and local restoration initiatives.
ANEP believes that the goals of this bill and the work that the estuary programs are doing are strongly linked, and I will briefly explain how.
First of all, the bill recognizes that estuary habitat restoration cannot take place in a vacuum. Restoration projects can be affected by other factors, like land use impacts, degraded water quality and invasive species, changes in water salinity. These are all issues that the NEP, with its broad-based, comprehensive, water-based approach are investigating and acting on.
This approach ensure that interrelated issues are considered and addressed in undertaking restoration projects.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Several of the purposes of the bill directly relate to the activities and goals of the national estuary program. These purposes include creating strategies to meet national and regional goals for habitat restoration. The bill will rely on existing plans or strategies for restoration, as well as estuary-specific scientific data as the foundation for effective projects.
The NEPs have taken a lead role in these areas. Most of their stakeholder-driven estuary management plans include specific science-based strategies for habitat restoration and the NEPs have completed dozens of restoration projects of many different types, and I would ask you to refer, for more information on that, to the written testimony, where there's a list of a number of different restoration project types conducted by NEPs.
Another purpose in the bill is fostering communication and establishing effective partnerships between restoration programs, and the NEPs are built on local and regional partnerships for action and are often a technical and logistical support system for these partnerships. By bringing together Federal, state and local, as well as private sector stakeholders, pooling resources and targeting priority problems, the Estuary Program has enhanced the capacity of these partnerships to work together.
A further purpose in the bill seeks to ensure that restoration projects are based on sound science and that there's increased capacity for estuary habitat research and monitoring. The NEPs undertake detailed studies in each of their estuaries, creating a scientific basis for these plans and actions. These characterizations include baseline habitat data, developed by following well-designed criteria and protocols, setting standards, and providing direction for further monitoring programs.
The programs have pioneered innovative techniques, using new tools, like computer mapping and remote sensing technology, to analyze habitat and, with their partners, to prioritize projects.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In summary, the NEPs have been providing the scientific and management tools to support effective habitat restoration. They have collaboratively developed strategies and priorities for projects. They have been a communication and technical assistance resource for habitat restoration at the state and community level. They have been extremely effective at leveraging local resources to match Federal grants. For every Clean Water Act dollar the NEPs receive, they leverage at least two other dollars in state, local and other funding.
And the programs have the ability to present the council established by this bill with timely, prioritized restoration projects, with wide support from local stakeholders.
These are the primary ways in which this program supports the goals of this bill. We believe that, with continued Federal support, the NEPs can be a strong partner in implementing this Act, forming a chain of action stretching from the local watersheds up to the Federal level, that will result in the kind of measurable environmental progress that we are all working to achieve.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, for the opportunity to express our endorsement of H.R. 1775 and to share our views on the connection between the National Estuary Program and this important bill.
The association stands ready to assist the Subcommittee in any way as it works on this important bill.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ribb follows:]
STATEMENT OF RICHARD C. RIBB, ON BEHALF OF THE ASSOCIATION OF NATIONAL ESTUARY PROGRAMS
On behalf of the Association of National Estuary Programs (ANEP), we appreciate the opportunity to submit to the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans our views on the protection and restoration of the Nation's estuaries and on the strong linkage we see between the National Estuary Program (NEP) and the goals and process described in H.R. 1775. The Association of National Estuary Programs is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting stewardship and a common vision for the preservation of the nation's bays and estuaries. Our members include representatives of industry, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and the greater business community who volunteer their time to develop and implement comprehensive management plans for a network of nationally significant estuaries.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are pleased that this Subcommittee is turning its attention to the state of critical habitat in the Nation's estuaries, through the introduction of the bill being discussed today. Loss and degradation of estuary habitat has been identified as a priority problem in the 28 estuaries within the NEPestuaries designated by Congress as of national significance. H.R. 1775, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act of 1999, introduced by Mr. Gilchrest of Maryland, clearly recognizes the critical importance of estuarine habitat to the ecological and economic health of our Nation and to the quality of life of our citizens. This bill creates a national program with a strong regional component to fund estuary habitat restoration efforts in partnership with the States. non-governmental organizations and local communities.
The Association of National Estuary Programs strongly endorses H.R. 1775. Those of us who work every day with citizen groups and municipalities across the nation on habitat restoration projects would find the Federal funding and support for this issue that this bill would provide a critical resource in achieving restoration goals for our estuaries. In setting goals, committing funding, and including regional input to the process defined in this bill, Congress would make the Federal Government a real partner with the States in restoning the nation's estuarine resources.
H.R. 1775 and the National Estuary Program: A Complementary Approach to Estuary Restoration and Management
H.R. 1775 lists the following among the purposes of the bill:
To develop strategies to obtain national and regional objectives for estuary habitat restoration;
To foster communication between Federal, state and community estuary habitat restoration programs;
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC To establish effective estuary habitat restoration partnerships among public agencies at all levels of government and between public and private sectors;
To develop and enhance monitoring and research capabilities to ensure that estuary habitat restoration efforts are based on sound scientific understanding.
This testimony will illustrate how the National Estuary Program is already fulfilling those purposes in estuaries across the nation and how this national program will be strongly connected to and support the goals of the Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act.
The Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act focuses on restoring degraded habitat, taking a targeted approach that focuses specifically on habitat restoration project selection and funding. However, the bill does recognize that successful estuary habitat restoration cannot take place in a vacuum. Even a painstakingly planned habitat restoration project can be undermined by other factors like serious water quality problems, land use impacts, changes in freshwater flows or invasive species. While H.R. 1775's mission is urgently needed, it is not broad enough to address the entire spectrum of pressures on our estuaries that can impact habitat restoration. Section 107 (d) of H.R. 1775 specifically assigns high priority to projects where there is ''a program within the watershed of the estuary habitat restoration project that addresses sources of pollution and other activities that otherwise would re-impair the restored habitat'' and it requires that estuary habitat restoration efforts funded under the bill be consistent with estuary management plans, referring to the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans created under the NEP. These issues and activities mentioned are ones that the NEPs are investigating and acting on, building collaborative solutions for estuary problems.
The NEP is broad-based, taking a comprehensive approach to addressing the wide range of problems facing the Nation's estuariespreventing habitat degradation and loss of recreational and commercial fisheries, protecting and Improving water quality, pioneering watershed management techniques, controlling, sewage outfalls and septic system impacts, mitigating impacts from increasing coastal land development, developing strategies to deal with invasive species and harmful algal bloomsthe list goes on and reflects the inter-related nature of these. Problems and the community-based nature of the NEP approach. The watershed-based perspective of the NEPs ensures that interrelated issues are considered and addressed in undertaking restoration projects.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The process established by H.R. 1775 would rely on existing plans or strategies for habitat restoration in the nation's estuaries, as well as on estuary-specific scientific habitat data as a foundation for effective restoration projects. The strength of the NEPs is comprehensive planning for restoration in a watershed context, whereas the focus of H.R. 7755 is to provide Federal funding for local organizations to undertake specific restoration projects. The NEPs have taken a lead role in this type of planning. For example, the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program convened nearly 100 coastal stakeholders for a daylong workshop on habitat restoration, resulting in a set of clear recommendations for research, planning, management and legislation to further restoration goals. The NBEP also used the input of these participants to develop a comprehensive map and inventory of coastal restoration sites, identifying existing, planned and proposed projcts. Since 1994, the NBEP has been developing the scienfific data and methodology necessary for a statewide coastal habitat restoration plana plan with tremendous local support that now nears completion. The program is also conducting field-based research projects to develop detailed scientific criteria for evaluating estuary habitat restoration project success, aiding the development of monitoring protocols. The actions of this particular NEP reflect the work of NEPs across the nation in addressing this critical issue. As long-range planning and organizing entities, the NEPs have, through a consensus-based process, worked out the appropriate courses of action that will lead to coordinated and collaborative coastal habitat restoration actions.
The NEPs have the ability to present the Council established by H.R. 1775 With timely, prioritized projects with support from local stakeholders. Over the last decade, NEPs have conducted a wide variety of restoration projects and have plans for many more; refer to the attached NEP Habitat Restoration Project List. The programs provide an organizational framework to coordinate local restoration actions, state and Federal programs and the functions of the Council. In many cases, planning and logistical details have been worked out in advance; funding is the last necessary component. The programs have been working on this process for several years; H.R. 1775 would be a logical and well-timed receptor of the results of this work.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We believe that the passage of H.R. 1775 will allow the NEPs to move forward on the habitat restoration goals set forth in their community-based estuary management plans while providing the Regional Councils with a strong connection to local habitat restoration needs in our estuaries. The bill identifies a potential important role for the NEPs as non-voting members of Regional Councils. These programs can be an important partner and resource to the Regional Councils, providing organizational and technical advice and support. The abilities of the NEPs matched with the process and funding set up by H.R. 1775 will form a chain of action stretching from local watersheds to the Federal level that will result in the kind of measurable environmental progress that we are all working to achieve.
It is also clear that it will be a challenging task for States to consistently meet the 35 percent match requirement created in the bill. It will require a well-developed ability to secure non-Federal match and careful coordination of matching funds. This ability to leverage funds and resources is a hallmark of the NEPs. In fact, a recent report from the NEPs shows that, based on a conservative analysis, for every Clean Water Act Section 320 dollar invested, the NEPs leverage at least 2 dollars from state, local, foundation and other funding sources and services. There are few Federal programs that can show this kind of return on investment. This also reflects the level of State and local commitment to the NEPs as well as recognition that these programs are an effective catalyst for action in our nation's estuaries. The NEPs will no doubt play a critical role in planning for and securing local match for the funding provided by H.R. 1775.
ANEP has a specific comment regarding the language in H.R. 1775. We support a change that where in the bill ''estuary management plans'' are referred to, the CCMPs created under the NEP are specifically identified as such plans.
The National Estuary Program: Securing a Sound Future for the Nation's Estuaries
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It is well established that estuaries are the biologically essential, economically priceless, but fragile connections between the continent and the oceans. The entire nation is served by coastal estuaries in numerous ways, such as commercial and recreational fishing, transportation, defense, boating, research and learning, and providing irreplaceable wildlife and fisheries habitat. The estuaries designated by Congress to be part of the NEP now include 42 percent of the continental United States shoreline and are among the most productive in the Nation. Economically, these estuaries of national significance produce over $7 billion in revenue from commercial and recreational fishing and related marine industries; tourism and recreation in these estuaries are valued at over $16 billion annually. Through the National Estuary Program, citizens, municipalities, environmental groups and interested business and industry organizations come together with State and Federal governments to reach agreement on long-term management plans that seek to guarantee the economic and biological productivity of the nation's estuaries into the future.
The National Estuary Program has evolved into a leader in coastal watershed protection and restoration over the last decade and a half Each NEP serves as the primary technical and coordination support structure (and frequently the initiator) for a wide range of partnerships and actions to conserve and restore the estuary. Starting with four pilot programs in 1985, the success of and need for the program has led to the current status28 estuaries in the national program of which 10 are in the developmental stage and 18 are in the implementation stage of their individual Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans (CCMP). Local citizens guide the development and implementation of their plans, and, using the abilities of their local NEPs, work to leverage Federal and state dollars with contributions from local governments and the private sector.
The National Estuary Program is clearly not the ''command-and-control'' type of Federal program. Rather, it is a program where local governments, citizens and the private sector come together and agree on how to manage the Nation's estuaries and on how to craft local solutions to common coastal problems. Only with the full support of the local sector is the proposed CCMP submitted to the state governors and the EPA Administrator for approval. Thus, it is the states, in close coordination with the local stakeholders and the Federal Government, that create and implement new, non-adversarial and cost-effective estuary management plans, in contrast to the traditional, top-down approach to environmental protection, largely divorced from local
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The NEP has a history of valuing community involvement and building support for initiatives. Citizens see these programs (and their staffs) as a part of a governmental structure that uses resources efficiently, is responsive to their needs, and is effective in solving problems and raising issues and awareness. NEPs have been particularly effective in identifying and funneling relevant resources (grants, technical assistance, etc.) to states, communities and citizen groups. The National Estuary Program is one of a handful of Federal non-regulatory programs that truly attempt to address local concerns. This effective national network of programs shares its experiences and lessons learned with each other and with other watershed and governmental organizations. It has been and, with continued support at the Federal level, will continue to be a national resource for the protection and improvement of the nation's estuaries.
We thank the Subcommittee for providing us the opportunity to express our support for H.R. 1775 and to share our views on the connection between the National Estuary Program and this bill. The Association of National Estuary Programs stands ready to assist the Subcommittee as it works to pass this vital legislation.
National Estuary Program Habitat Restoration Project List
Listed below are examples of NEP estuary habitat restoration projects, completed, ongoing and planned. The passage of H.R. 1775 would allow continuance and expansion of these efforts to better meet the Nation's estuary habitat restoration needs.
The Massachusetts Bays Program led an interagency approach to shellfish bed restoration that will restore and protect 13 shellfish beds along Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays. As part of this effort, the program has linked up with business interests to promote innovative technologies for pollution prevention and remediation. The program has also supported a comprehensive inventory of tidally restricted coastal wetlands in Massachusetts and is funding two fish passageway projects.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Through the work of the Barnegat Bay NEP, more than 32,000 acres of critical coastal habitat area have been preserved in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey.
Over 40,000 acres of impounded marsh and mangrove wetlands have been reconnected to the Indian River Lagoon on Florida's eastern coast, one of the most U.S. productive ecosystems in an area with high population growth and human pressures. On the Gulf Coast, the Sarasota NEP has helped achieve a 28-318 percent reduction in nitrogen loadings to the Bay, spurring a seven percent increase in the growth of seagrass beds.
Maine's Casco Bay Estuary Program teamed up with local lobstermen to study habitat in Portland Harbor (discovering that the harbor supported a thriving lobster community, larger than anyone had thought) and then to relocate thousands of harbor lobsters to other areas while the harbor was dredged thereby protecting an important natural resource while supporting the increased economic development that the dredging allowed.
The New York/New Jersey Harbor NEP, through its Habitat Workgroup, has prioritized and produced GIS coverages of habitat sites targeted for restoration and acquisition by the two states. This process has already resulted in the funding several millions of dollars worth of restoration projects. The data is being used to identify not just potential sites, but also other factors that can impair restoration such as erosion problems and incompatible land uses. A range of projects target saltmarshes, freshwater wetlands, stream corridors, waterfowl foraging areas, fish runs, invasive plant removal, dredge material reuse, artificial reefs, coastal grasslands, oyster and shellfish beds and upland forest.
Leading a partnership effort the Charlotte Harbor NEP has restored over 700 acres on public lands through removal of non-native plant species such as Melaleuca, Brazilian pepper, and Australian pine as well as the restoration of natural hydrology. These plants were over-running and out-competing native plants. Another priority is the restoration of heavily damaged seagrass beds using innovative techniques to promote rapid re-growth.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC On November 6, 1998, the Seabrook Middle Ground clam flat in coastal New Hampshire was reopened to clamming for the first time in nearly 10 years due to work coordinated by the New Hampshire NEP. The reopening points to marked water quality improvements in the Harbor largely due to increased municipal sewerage coverage in the Town of Seabrook and other smaller scale pollution control measures around the Harbor.
The Barataria-Terrebone Estuary Program has led a local planning effort to restore oyster-growing areas to safe harvest conditions. The program sponsored local stakeholder meetings which idenfified 61 candidate restoration sites and a smaller set of priority sites were selected for immediate action.
The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program has been the state point-of-contact for a multi-million dollar Army Corps of Engineers Ecological Restoration Initiative. The NBEP organized a stakeholder group to work with the Corps to develop a list of priority coastal wetland and anadromous fish run restoration sites. The NBEP persuaded the Corps to also provide basic engineering studies for a number of the identified sites. The program has two saltmarsh restoration projects in this year's workplan and recently secured over $200,000 from the R.I.'s Oil Spill and Response Fund to support coastal habitat mapping and restoration equipment purchases.
The Tampa Bay NEP set an initial goal of restoring 100 acres of low-salinity wetland habitatthis goal has already been met through the combined efforts of local, state and Federal programs, and non-profits groups such as Tampa Baywatch. The program has set an overall seagrass restoration goal of 12,000 acres. The San Francisco Estuary Project's top priority is to expand, restore and protect wetlands. Working with state, Federal and local agencies, as well as private organizations, this NEP developed the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Reporta scientific guide for restoring and improving the baylands and adjacent habitats of the San Francisco estuary.
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Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Ribb, thank you very much. Since there are so few people in the room, I don't think we need the lights. We appreciate the technology and under certain circumstances, if the dais up here was filled, I guess we would need them, but since it's just Eni and myself, we'll forego the lights.
Mr. Ribb, thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL HIRSHFIELD, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CHESAPEAKE BAY FOUNDATION
Mr. HIRSHFIELD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will try to nevertheless be brief.
On behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Restore America's Estuaries, I would like to thank the Subcommittee for the opportunity to present testimony in strong support of H.R. 1775, the Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act. I would especially like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for introducing this bill.
My name is Mike Hirshfield. I'm the Senior Vice President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which has its headquarters in Annapolis, Maryland and offices in Virginia and Pennsylvania. CBF is a member-supported, non-profit environmental education and advocacy organization, with over 80,000 members throughout the bay watershed and nationwide.
Our mission is to save the bay, period; to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.
I'm also here as a member of the Board of Restore America's Estuaries, which is a coalition of 11 regional environmental organizations that all have estuary protection and restoration at the core of their missions.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We've heard a lot about the legislation and what I'd like to do is depart from my written remarks for a couple of minutes, ask that they be included in the record, and
Mr. GILCHREST. Without objection.
Mr. HIRSHFIELD.[continuing] talk about a couple of the things that I've heard this morning.
You asked how one restores an estuary, and I would say that our perhaps overly simplistic perspective is that you stop pollution, you manage your fisheries sustainably, and you protect and restore habitat, and those three elements have been what has been recognized by the Chesapeake Bay Program as critical to bringing back the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and, as you've heard, there are critical elements in all of the national estuary program efforts to restore estuaries.
If you look, however, at the history of a lot of these programs, (I've been involved with the Chesapeake Bay Program for over 20 years now, from the beginning, first as a researcher, then as a state employee, and now with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation), the focus really historically was on stopping pollution. That was the first thing that people started to work on and for a long time, the vast majority of the resources going to restoring our bays has been focused on stopping pollution.
In the last few years, we've got our arms around fisheries management a little bit better, in part because of the legislation that you worked so hard on to get the states working better together, and really restoring habitat I see as the eye-opening moment for the next 10 years or so.
We've seen the need. We realize that just stopping pollution and just managing fisheries isn't enough. We've actually got to fix things. We've got to put things back. We've got to unstraighten rivers. We've got to put oyster reefs back into three dimensions. And in order to do that, we need resources and coordination beyond what we've had to date.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are very supportive of the Bay Program. I testified in favor of its reauthorization on the Senate side a couple of months ago. We see this legislation as being in no way duplicative, but as being complimentary, providing resources and coordination that will really help to take the bay and all the other bays in the country to the next level.
I'm sure if any of my colleagues from RAE were here, they would say the same thing.
A year ago, we issued the first Chesapeake Bay Foundation report card, State of the Bay. We gave the bay a 27 out of 100. People said we're tough graders, but we think that that's really where the bay is compared to what it has been. In fact, we said it had come back a little bit, maybe up from a 22, from when it bottomed out in the early '80s.
This year, a couple of weeks ago, we released the 1999 State of the Bay report and we gave the bay a 28; not exactly a huge improvement, but we're still pretty tough graders and we look at a lot of factors, and having a bay get better at all in the face of all the threats that are facing it we think is pretty remarkable.
And one of the things that we're the most excited about is the potential for oyster restoration. A bunch of scientists got together, as Ms. Yozell talked about, a few months ago, and came up with a consensus document, that is pretty rare. If you think three agencies getting together and agreeing on something is tough, getting 20 scientists together to agree on anything is almost unheard of.
And they agreed that what we needed were oyster sanctuaries, set-aside for brood stock, three-dimensional reefs, and more attention to how we manage the oyster fishery. We think that with that kind of a framework, with the funding and coordination provided by the legislation that we're talking about here, we'll be able to take oysters back from the two that we gave them this year to a 10 or a 20 in the next decade, and we think the Chesapeake Bay, from its 28, will be able to be taken back to a 70 or so.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We're not going to get to that 100, we're not that naive, but we think a 70 is possible. And, again, this is a perspective that I know is shared by all of the other members of Restore America's Estuaries; that if we can get in there, get our hands dirty and start fixing the pieces of the bays that are broken, we can bring it back.
One last comment. We've heard a lot about the importance of technical expertise in this program and we at the Bay Foundation certainly think that doing it right is better than doing it too quickly. However, there is an extraordinary energy all over this country related to habitat restoration. We have hundreds of our members who are growing oysters on their docks and taking themnot eating them, but taking them and putting them back on oyster reefs.
There are similar stories that could be told all over this country of citizens taking their time and their money and putting it into estuarine habitat restoration. And we hope that as we set up the process for implementing this legislation, that an appropriate role for private citizen organizations, such as CBF and the other RAE members, would be taken into account, because it would be tragic if we lost that enthusiasm and that energy.
In summary, on behalf of all the RAE members, I want to applaud you and the members of this Committee for the vision and leadership on this critical issue. We look forward to working with you to move this legislation forward and to turn a very good bill into very good law.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hirshfield may be found at the end of the hearing.]
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much, Mr. Hirshfield. We share your enthusiasm. Now, Ms. Woolsey's former staffer, who I'm sure she misses a great deal at this point, but glad you're in the place where you are, Mr. Davis.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF GRANT DAVIS, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, U.S. ARMY
Mr. DAVIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think I'm still blushing from her introduction. A little bit embarrassing. But I truly appreciate the opportunity to be here before you today and appreciate your introduction of this piece of legislation, as well as Mr. Faleomavaega, the Ranking Member, sitting through the testimony. It really is quite inspiring to see the panel before us speak in relative unanimity, three different Federal agencies talking about implementation of legislation like this, because you have hit upon something, I think, that is a recipe for success.
As the Congresswoman mentioned, I have been the Executive Director of the Bay Institute of San Francisco for a little over two years. Our sole mission is the protection and restoration of the San Francisco Bay Delta Estuary and I submitted a document that we released last year for members of the Committee called The Sierra to the Sea, which is essentially the area that we cover.
In that, the second to last page, is an historical compilation of the San Francisco Bay delta, 150 years ago, which documents what we used to have and what we now have today, which puts a dramatic picture in front of us of what we've lost and how we have to re-double our efforts, in particular, in the San Francisco Bay delta.
And I don't claim to be an expert on any other estuary, but I do know one of the sad common features is that all estuaries in the nation are, in fact, being abused and are in need of repair.
The bright spot, however, is the fact that you have colleagues that are before you today, non-profit, non-government organizations, as well as local, state and Federal agencies, that are willing to re-double efforts to get engaged and do implementation.
One of the beauties of going last is that I will say I'll be brief and that I'd like to obviously include my full remarks into the record, but would like to paraphrase that I've heard today and comment and give some feedback based on members' questions and the responses that I heard earlier.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With all due respect, the first one is your analogy of a funnel. It's a very good one. However, the idea of transmission fluid for an estuary is probably oneI would recomend using another analogy, like fresh water, because the one area that
Mr. GILCHREST. The reason I use that, though, is when I communicate my ideas to other members of Congress, that seems to take hold. But I'll take your ideas into consideration.
Mr. DAVIS. The funnel works. It's just what you put down it. I used that because my colleague to the right here did mention there is a fourth element besides the wonderful features you talked about, restoring estuaries. In our case in California, clearly fresh water flows are an equally important ingredient to restoring our estuaries and when you look at a dry state like ours, which is in need of water, our continuing challenge is making sure we have enough fresh water flows into the system.
So in order to restore the physical process, which is what our document suggests is needed, you need fresh water flow and that would be the summation in terms of what we find at the Bay Institute is our biggest challenge; that is, working with, in a collaborative way, the Federal agencies, the state and local bodies, working toward a very comprehensive vision of restoration.
My message today is that in San Francisco, we're ready to implement. A great deal of work has been done to plan and we're fortunate enough in our region that there is a great deal of collaboration going on with the Federal, state and local entities that are responsible for regulation and designing and ultimately implementing projects.
I didn't include this, because it's too big for the record, but there is a document called The Bay-lands Ecosystem Habitat Goals, which thoroughly documentsthis has been a five-year effort of all the best scientists that we have in our institutions, documenting project by project very ambitious goals for restoration of the entire watershed.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'd like to make sure that I get both Committee staff and the members get this document, because it's basically a template for how to implement the work that your bill is suggesting needs to be done in estuaries all across the U.S.
One other document
Mr. GILCHREST. What is the title of that?
Mr. DAVIS. This document is called The Bay-lands Ecosystem Habitat Goals, it's a report of the habitat recommendations prepared by the San Francisco Bay Area Wetlands Ecosystem Goals Project, very informative and years of work went into this.
Closer to home, we did have a document called San Pablo Bay Lands. This is the northern part of San Francisco Bay, where we're located and very involved. This is a plan to protect and restore the region's farms and wetlands, because in our region, we have the nexus of agriculture and the estuary and truly significant work needs to be done in collaboration. We need landowner support and voluntary cooperative means for the agencies to work with the NGOs and the landowners to ultimately implement restoration.
So that document I did insert for the record, because it, too, provides numerous opportunities, with the right funding mechanism, for us to implement and begin restoring upwards, in this area, of around 50,000 acres of wetlands in the San Francisco Bay, which would be a phenomenal step.
Lastly, just to move forward, Mike Davis, who testified earlier, because your legislation provides the Corps with the primary responsibility for ecosystem restoration here, we support that actually. It's been our experience that that new mission that they're moving into, contrary to what their old mission was, is one in which they are equipped to work.
I have submitted a document called the San Pablo Bay Watershed Restoration Study. It's a currently authorized project that the Congress has had now for three years, going into its fourth year, and we are fortunate to be able to work with them in designing the restoration strategy.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That means they have found a way, and I suggest that this could be your model for other estuaries and partnerships around the nation, where the Corps has the authorization for ecosystem restoration, but what's unique with the San Pablo Bay Area is they're providing what they do best; that is, technical assistance and implementation planning to state and local and non-government agencies and organizations working to implement projects.
So if you have the scientific advisory panels put in place that would encompass groups like ours and the local, state and other agencies responsible for regulation, working with the Federal agencies under the Corps' leadership, I think you do have a model that can work. And what we heard today is that NOAA and EPA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife are prepared to operate under that rubric.
So I think the theme today is collaboration, it's a major step forward, were you to be able to pass this out in a bipartisan manner. It's something that the Bay Institute, as well as the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, which I currently am Vice Chair, wholeheartedly support, and if there is any work that we can do to help assist in moving this bill forward, one of the ways to do that would be to get additional co-sponsors and I plan to go back and do just that, to get the Bay area Congressional delegation to come on this bill and hopefully this will be the vehicle that we use this year.
So thank you very much for the opportunity to testify.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Davis follows:]
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Davis. Could each of you comment on the structure, the regional structure we've created in this legislation, whether you think you can tap into that structure?
Also, if you could comment on the question that was posed to the Corps, Fish and Wildlife, and NMFS about grants versus projects and how that is oriented. They seem to think that there could be some formula or some measure for grant projects as opposed to just having everything done through the Corps, through a project-oriented.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'm just wondering where do each of you think you might fit into that scheme. Mr. Ribb?
I also want to thankunless you really like to fly, I want to thank Mr. Ribb and Mr. Davis. I don't think Mike flew from Annapolis.
Mr. HIRSHFIELD. Although I wish I had. It would have been quicker.
Mr. GILCHREST. It was a little stormy last Thursday. But I really want to thank both of you for coming back this week. It's very appreciated.
Mr. RIBB. Well, I got to see the storm firsthand, so that was really interesting. I think the regional council concept is important. Our experience in our watershed is we have worked in collaboration with the Army Corps on a number of initiativesin fact, we have a couple of investigations going on where our estuary program is the point program of contact for them, and, through us, the Corps has been able to work with all of our local stakeholders.
So I think a process that includes a diversity of interests work best having, experienced this on our watershed level. Diversity in the regional councils is important; to have the various governmental agencies, but to also have the other groups, like representation from RAE, which certainly is critical.
I think it also builds broader support. And if the local people are involved it gets back to the question you asked, how do you restore and estuary and keep it that way. I think one of the critical ways is to have the public support for it and to build the kind of political will to do those things.
In our state, we've been to bat three times on a state estuary habitat restoration bill that would use oil spill proceeds as a funding source and each time it was defeated for purely political reasons. Strong support, but not quite enough articulated at the citizen level to say to state legislators, hey, we want this to happen.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we're working very hard to try and get that to happen, but I think, as I said, if people feel connected to the Council, the people in the neighborhood down the street from you who want to restore their salt marsh, you're likely to have a connection to the Council that's very powerful.
So I believe that's a critical component to the success of the Council. And I've forgotten the second question.
Mr. GILCHREST. Projects v. grants.
Mr. RIBB.I think the grant process, in my mind, would be better, because we have a lot of capacity right now at our regional and local level to do this kind of work. We have people who want to be involved in it.
We have universities, we have state agencies, we have citizen groups who want to be involved and have some expertise. We think that's a real good way to go at it.
Admittedly, I know a grant process, administratively, is more work, having spent a lot of time on administration myself, but I do believe that when people have the ability to do work themselves, in collaboration with the Federal, state and local groups, again, it's very powerful and it's long-lasting.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you. Mike?
Mr. HIRSHFIELD. I think the regional council mechanism is the way to go. I think that I'd have to go back and look at the language and see how prescriptive it is about participation of groups like ours, but whether it's prescriptive or not, as long as everybody understands that we have a real stake in this and real interest in it and that we should have a seat at the table at the beginning, I think our folks would be satisfied.
On grants or projects, I think Grant Davis really hit it right. It's figuring outit's less about whether you call it a project or a grant than it is about figuring out the appropriate roles and responsibilities for all the participants.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If we're going to be moving a culvert, I'm really not sure that we'd need a really long Corps analysis. If we're going to be moving an island, I'd probably want a little bit longer planning process.
But just as in San Francisco Bay, a lot of work has gone into developing the plans, finding the sites, figuring out what the projects are, in many cases, with the collaboration of folks like the Corps, I'm not sure that going through what I seem to hear as being a checklist of a project approach is necessarily the way to go.
We are using an old analogy from the movie MASH, where they talked about doing not hospital surgery, but doing meatball surgery. We're talking about meatball restoration. We don't have time to satisfy the purists and academia or perhaps the engineers who are counting everything. We need to get out there and get the job done.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you. Grant?
Mr. DAVIS. Briefly, never to pass up a moment. It might be the last time I get to testify here, and it is getting late.
But again, there are two projects I wanted to call attention to in part of that. With all due respect to Mr. Davis with the Corps, his one item that I totally agree with is in his earlier testimony on this bill, he talked about another purpose for this legislation, which essentially was greater public appreciation and awareness for the value of the benefits of estuaries and our coastal resources.
Adding that as one of the purposes gets to the point of gaining public awareness and appreciation, and part of that then is who is engaged in the implementation.
So going back to our region, you mentioned the Sonoma Bay Lands project. That was a huge wetlands restoration, 400 acres, and it encompassed the reuse of dredge material, a beneficial reuse of material that came from the Port of Oakland that would have gone into the Bay or into the ocean. We reused it for wetland restoration. That's the model that I would like to point to.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC More importantly, you have a component in here for monitoring and we're learning from the Sonoma Bay Lands project, just down the way in Novato, California, at the Hamilton Army Air Field, and this is in my testimony. It's a 700-acre wetland restoration, again, but what's unique is it's a cement runway that's four feet below sea level, and what we're going to do is take the valuable material that's coming out of the dredge projects, put them into beneficial reuse at that site. We'll take what we learned from the Sonoma Bay Lands.
So what you've managed to do here is put the Corps into the proper place. They can move material and they can design projects and they can have the technical resources, but they require a local partner, a local cost-share, and a local vibrant community interest to help implement, and that's the power of this.
What we're hoping to do there is with NOAA, you'll have a bank where you will learn, we'll be able to tap into NOAA's database for restoration and, quite frankly, that's the missing ingredient here. When I recommend who should go and how, it depends on the project.
You can't just provide the authority to the Corps to give the opportunity to grant. If it's a grant-making project, I would concur with my colleague here that it makes sense for smaller projects to go to an NGO or a state or a local entity. For big projects, let's use the Corps, and contain it so it doesn't get out of hand.
The cost-share is what you've given here. In a nutshell, we'd be happy to work with them on implementing projects.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you very much, Mr. Davis. I yield now to the gentleman from American Samoa.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do want to thank the three panelists for their excellent statements that have been presented before the Committee.
Just a couple of questions, for the record, if I may. And I do appreciate the gentlemen's support and their endorsement of the proposed bill.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Ribb, as you are aware, there are currently 28 national estuary programs administered by the EPA and one of the things that has really made the program so outstanding, as all of you have indicated earlier, the involvement of the local communities.
Can you share with us any more elaboration on how this works within your Narragansett national estuary?
Mr. RIBB. In particular, as an example, and it's included in my written testimony, our program has worked closely with local interestswe pulled together the habitat restoration stakeholders from across that whole spectrum, university, agency, local, citizen groups, last fall, and we held a symposium on coastal habitat restoration. Out of that we came up with policy directions, research needs, and legislation that's needed.
We have a consistent team that meets on a regular basis and right now we've put together a GIS map of all of the sites, habitat restoration sites planned, proposed and completed, and we have this to work from.
Now we're working on a prioritization scheme that is right for our estuary. We've also been doing the science behind it by analyzing what's been lost, where is our best bang for the buck, but also building in what Mr. Hirshfield is saying, recognition of a willingness to act. We need to recognize that and we need to take advantage of those people, programs and projects.
So at the same time that we're building the science and the consensus, we want to get out there and act and do projects, and we're doing that now on a limited level. This bill would really help meet those local needs.
In respect to the issue of the grants versus projects, we have been working closely with the Army Corps right now on a restoration planning, and they have also been involved in some of the smaller projects and I think that it's hard for them. They're not geared up for small projects, at least the way we work. So I think that they need to have that connection, as Grant said, but ned to determine the proper role of how they can work together with local intersts for these smaller projects. That's a critical component of their involvement.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think that we've built a support system that is ready to work with this process, if this bill becomes law. We have prioritized the list of projects, we have the players, we have people ready to go, we have local funding sources, and that is not an unusual situation for the NEPs. That is a model that all NEPs use.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. This is just testing the mettle of the proposed provisions of my good friend's bill here. As you all know, we've got the regional councils, but my question is that we've got 28 programs that are very successful. It seems that the key here is involvement of the local communities. I was wondering, do you think that putting the regions, like Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas together, do you think that they have a commonality of their needs, where we put them together, or does this add another layer of more bureaucratic involvement in establishing a council or regional councils?
Mr. RIBB. I think the needs are common across those estuaries, although some are different because of their ecological situation. The difference between Louisiana and Portland, Maine, for example. But recently things, the Estuary Programs did a report on common problems across the country of different estuaries and there were six or seven priority ones that come up in every estuary, issues like habitat loss, water quality degradation, and invasive species, nutrient overloading.
So the programs, estuaries share these problems. I'm not so sure that its a big a problem, having a regional setup as ther bill describes.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. And, Mr. Hirshfield, I notice that you got your doctorate from the University of Michigan. Do you think I might have any problem with the Great Lakes connotation that we're trying to take on here?
Mr. HIRSHFIELD. Well, it's funny, we were talking about the Great Lakes a little bit earlier and, as a scientist, I do have a little bit of a definitional problem with including places that have no salt in their water in a program that is fundamentally about where the salt water meets the fresh water.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But that's perhaps, in this context, a picky scientific distinction of no real importance.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I wanted just to
Mr. HIRSHFIELD. I appreciate it. I was raised near the coast and as fast as I could leave Michigan, I got back first to California, then back here to the east.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. How important do you think, Mr. Hirshfield, is the idea of monitoring the process? Maybe I'm kind of asking a leading question, but sometimes we tend to forget.
Mr. HIRSHFIELD. We are very happy to see the monitoring provisions in this legislation.
Although I was just the person who said maybe we should perhaps even cut a few corners and get out there doing restoration projects, that's, in part, reflective of my belief that the best way that scientists learn about this new discipline is by doing it.
And if you're not going to have good monitoring of the projects, then you're not going to be learning. We've all seen, over the years, lots of projects go back. The straightened rivers were, after all, designed for some, at that time, believed public good.
So having a monitoring program that really does keep an eye on what's happening, and to make sure that the benefits that we're all looking for are actually achieved I think is essential.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. We've got a $280 billion military budget that we now have pending and we're only proposing $220 million for a five-year period to provide for the needs of 50 percent of our nation's population residing in the coastal areas and the 70 percent or whatever of the commercial fisheries, 90 percent of the recreational fisheries.
Maybe this is something, Mr. Chairman, that I would suggest that we ought to look at the investment, because $220 million for a five-year period is pittance. Probably not even the cost of one B-1 bomber. But to look at the difference of what this means in human needs and also our appreciation for the environment is just unbelievable.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to ask Mr. Davis. You know, every time I go through San Francisco, Iand, by the way, we really appreciate your coming here twice now for the course of the span of one week. I know what it means to be on a five- hour flight between the west coast and here.
But every time I come through San Francisco, I see this huge dirty area that is just absolutely muddy or whatever, clay, or whatever, and it looks like no organism lives or survives in this. It's about five miles away from the San Francisco Airport.
Am I making any inroads into what an estuary is or shouldn't be?
Mr. DAVIS. You are making the most relevant point. It's where the waters mix, and that's why I brought up fresh water flow. We have the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin that form the main tributaries that flow through the delta, out the bay, and you have the mixing zone, a nutrient zone where the animal life and the food web is really, really rich.
So when you destroy that, the physical process, all of the the species that rely on that are threatened.
My colleague here, Mr. Ribb, mentioned something about the real challenge being sedimentation and some of the non-point source pollutions and in my written testimony I talk about two other areas that we ought to look at this vehicle possibly being relevant.
One of them is to help the collaborations of the municipalities that are responsible for keeping the non-point source pollution, this is human, that are contributing toward that, the folks that live in and around these estuaries, we're all part of the problem and all part of the solution.
So addressing non-point source pollution through this vehicle may, in fact, be one other benefit that I see out of this.
In addition, there is a great deal of work going on right now through the CalFed process and work that the Bay Institute is doing on industrial water use efficiency. I bring this up because it's important to note that you can combine economic incentives from municipalities and state and local government to provide more efficient use of our resources, and that would be reducing the discharge into our estuaries, that's the sewage and the municipal load that's added into our estuaries, and combine that with an incentive for water conservation, and we're showing some dramatic numbers, where the Congress could provide just an additional incentive to local governments that are responsible for heavy loads and reducing the discharge.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This could be a vehicle, and I felt compelled to raise it because it's exciting pioneering work and, as Mr. Hirshfield said, this is an ongoing process.
It's scientific in nature. It means it's evolving and we have to practice adaptive management. We need to learn as we restore, and that's why that data bank is so darn important, because that would be our resource to evolve our understanding of how best to restore our nation's estuaries.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Gentlemen, I thank you. And, Mr. Chairman, again, I want to commend you for proposing a bill that I feel so comfortable and very confident that it will shortly have very strong bipartisan support. I want to commend you for this. And, gentlemen, thank you again for coming.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Faleomavaega, for your support and for your questions.
Gentlemen, once again, thank you for your testimony. It has been extremely helpful for us to formulate this piece of legislation and it is our hope, and I think you've done a great deal to help in that effort, to get it passed out of the House before we recess or adjourn, and passed out of the Senate.
So we'll be working to that end. If there is any other member that you think you need to call in the country to encourage them to co-sponsor or vote for this, we would appreciate it.
Thank you very much. The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:06 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
Additional material submitted for the record follows.]