Reps. Huffman and Denham Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Restore Estuary Habitats
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) introduced bipartisan legislation responding to the untimely closure of many critical estuary restoration projects and improve upon the Estuary Restoration Act of 2000. The amended Estuary Restoration Act removes bureaucratic hurdles that have prevented important ecological restoration work from going forward in sensitive estuary habitats across the country that are important to fish and shellfish, migratory birds and other wildlife, and water quality.
The Estuary Restoration Act of 2000 authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enter into public-private partnerships with NGOs to improve estuary habitat, but unfortunately, many of these grant proposals were terminated before completion, after years of engagement with local stakeholders. From coast to coast, these partnerships have stagnated and more than a dozen projects have been cancelled, leaving important work unfinished.
The new Estuary Restoration Act fix introduced today would address the legal hurdles that have undermined the program, allowing the Army Corps to enter into indemnification agreements with nonprofit partners to enable potentially hundreds of shovel-ready projects to move forward nationwide. These legislative changes are necessary to allow the federal government to more effectively implement restoration projects and reduce overhead costs.
“For far too long we have been neglecting to protect and restore our estuaries, which are vital to our coastal environment,” said Rep. Huffman. “We must do more to protect these important ecosystems that improve our clean water sources, support coastal economies - including fishing and shellfish industry jobs - and provide recreational opportunities for millions of Americans. Our legislation offers a no-nonsense, cost-neutral solution to a problem so that important estuary restoration work can move forward.”
“Our estuaries play an important role with healthy waterways,” said Rep. Denham. “This bipartisan, common-sense legislation empowers the Army Corps of Engineers to work with local non-governmental partners to restore estuaries across the state, helping speed these projects along.”
The bipartisan legislation is supported by Ducks Unlimited and Restore America’s Estuaries.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.