Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Hugh Vickery
For Immediate Release: February 3, 2005
President's Budget Reaffirms
Commitment to Klamath Basin

(WASHINGTON) -- President Bush continued his commitment to finding long-term solutions to water issues in the Klamath Basin by proposing an 8.4 percent increase in his 2006 budget for Interior Department programs in the basin.

The $62.9 million request will help the department work with state and local interests to address the long-term water quality and water supply challenges in the basin, while enhancing fish populations, addressing the water needs of national wildlife refuges and the interests of tribes, and providing irrigation water to farmers.

The president's budget will fund a variety of on-going and new projects in the basin including removal of Chiloquin Dam, water supply enhancement and water banking, acquisition and restoration of vital habitat, and assistance to landowners in wetland and upland restoration efforts.

"President Bush is keeping his commitment to support and focus the efforts of federal agencies to work with the people of the Klamath Basin to restore the basin's ecosystem while fostering a strong economy," Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton said. "In a year when many programs face fiscal challenges, the administration is increasing the Interior Department's budget in the basin."
In addition, the president's budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture requests more than $25 million to support farmers and ranchers in the basin.

"This investment will enable farmers, ranchers and other private land managers to continue addressing high priority resource issues in the watershed," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "President Bush is committed to value-added investment in conservation and this year's budget will help landowners continue to contribute to the economic well-being of the area through more efficient use of water and help preserve wetlands and wildlife habitat, in the face of very difficult resource management issues."

As part of the overall commitment, the budget proposes to increase funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the basin by 139 percent to $18.7 million.

The new funding will provide $7.5 million through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program to assist landowners in habitat restoration on their property. This will help fund restoration of 497 acres of wetlands, 355 acres of upland habitat and 16 miles of stream and shoreline.
The budget also includes $6 million to acquire vital habitat near Upper Klamath Lake that will help improve water quality and restore fish populations.

The Bureau of Reclamation will fund studies and initiatives to improve water supplies for irrigation, wildlife refuges, and Tribal trust obligations; continue a water bank; and coordinate its Conservation Implementation Program.

"Helping the people of the Klamath Basin is a high priority for both this administration and the Interior Department," Norton said. "President Bush is giving us the tools we need to get the job done."






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