Elwha River Restoration, Visits to Yakima River Basin, historic Nuclear Reactor B part of two-day swing
WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today wrapped up a two-day visit to Washington State where he joined members of Congress, state and local officials and partners to discuss large-scale ecosystem restoration projects and highlight the power of America's public lands, outdoor recreation, tourism and conservation in creating jobs and building strong local economies across the country.
On Saturday, Secretary Salazar joined Governor Chris Gregoire, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Congressman Norm Dicks, and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Chairwoman Frances Charles to celebrate the beginning of the Elwha River restoration project, the largest in U.S. history. The ceremony marked a significant milestone for the Elwha River Restoration project that will help increase salmon populations, uphold commitments to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and create new opportunities for economic growth and regional vitality.
"Water is the life-blood of Washington state," said Governor Gregoire. "It is part of Washington's history, culture, and economic future. From removing the dam and reopening the river in Elwha, to improving water management in Eastern Washington, we have a history of working together to manage water for people, farms, fish, and energy. And we still have some challenges ahead of us. Our economy, along with tens of thousands of jobs, is dependent on a clean and consistent water supply. I'm pleased Secretary Salazar could visit some of our most successful restorative projects, and discuss this important issue in several corners of our state."
"I am glad Secretary Salazar had the opportunity to see first-hand the great work being done in communities across Washington state," said Senator Murray. "I look forward to continuing to work with the Secretary and local communities as we move forward with these critical projects."
Today, Secretary Salazar met with Governor Gregoire, Senator Cantwell, Congressman Doc Hastings and stakeholders in Yakima to discuss water management in the Yakima River Basin. Salazar stressed the importance of partnerships in developing, considering and implementing recommendations aimed at increasing the reliability of the irrigation water supply and enhancing stream flows and passage for fish.
Salazar also noted the recent release of a groundwater-flow model for the Yakima River Basin that is the culmination of a long-term USGS-led study for collaborative use by Reclamation, Yakama Nation and Washington Department of Ecology managers in simulating different water-management scenarios.
Following the meeting, Salazar, Gregoire, Cantwell, and Hastings visited the B Reactor National Historic Landmark in Hanford. The reactor is one of three sites that Salazar recommended to Congress in June for establishment of a national historical park related to the Manhattan Project, the top-secret development of the atomic bomb during World War II.
"This weekend's visit by Secretary Salazar highlights the crucial role that public lands and waterways play in Washington state's history, culture and economy," said Senator Cantwell. "Preserving Washington states public lands and historic sites will continue to be a priority of mine: from restoring the Elwha River, to increasing the reliability of the water supply in the Yakima Basin, to preserving the history of the Hanford B Reactor. I appreciate the Secretary's visit this weekend, and look forward to working with him on these and other important issues for our state."
Salazar cited the site's unique historical significance and noted that National Parks and public lands are proven economic engines for local communities. In 2010, the nation's 394 national parks alone welcomed more than 281 million visitors who spent nearly $12 billion and supported 247,000 jobs.