On June 29, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment voted to approve $50 million in federal funding in fiscal year 2022 for the Puget Sound Geographic Program, which provides critical grant support to state, local, and tribal governments to implement projects to improve water quality, protect shorelines, and enhance fish passage and salmon habitat. The allocation comes after Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) led a letter to the Subcommittee in April, cosigned by nearly the entire Washington delegation, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio, and Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Raùl Grijalva requesting funding for the program at $50 million.
The $12 million increase, which Puget Sound Recovery Caucus Co-Chairs, Representative Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) and Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06), a member of the Appropriations Committee, fought to secure, would bring total federal funding for the program to the highest ever amount and represents an over 30% increase from the previous fiscal year.
“Puget Sound is a sacred tribal resource, cultural treasure, economic engine, and biodiversity hotspot, and if we are going to save our Sound before it’s too late– it really is now or never,” said Congresswoman Strickland. “I thank the subcommittee for working with Congressman Kilmer and me to approve this historic and record-breaking boost in funding for the Puget Sound Geographic Program, bringing us yet another step closer to ensuring the national recognition, federal support, and environmental stewardship Puget Sound deserves. Funding this key program is an investment in equity for our Tribal nations, Washingtonians, and our entire nation and I’ll continue working with our Tribal, local, and state partners alongside Congressman Kilmer to turn it into law.”
“Puget Sound is critical to the environmental and economic future of our region,” said Congressman Kilmer. “Securing this substantial increase in federal funding to restore the Sound is a big deal. Having the federal government step up and help is vital if we’re going to recover our salmon populations, ensure future generations can dig for clams, and respect tribal treaty rights. Continued funding for the Puget Sound Geographic Program is important to our environment, to local jobs and to our local economy.”
“The Commission is very pleased to hear that the FY22 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill will include $50 million for the Puget Sound Geographic Program,” said Justin Parker, executive director of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “It is absolutely critical that we expand our investments in natural resource protection if we are to recover Puget Sound and the salmon that call it home. Our tribal treaty-reserved rights are dependent, in part, upon healthy habitats to support salmon productivity, and it will take continued collaboration, hard work and resources to protect and restore them. Increasing the Puget Sound Geographic Program funding is an important step in this work, and we’re thankful for Congressman Kilmer and Congresswoman Strickland’s support and leadership to secure it in the subcommittee’s markup.”
“This substantial increase in funding for the Puget Sound Geographic Program would be a significant and welcome investment in Puget Sound recovery,” said Laura Blackmore, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “With this level of funding, the recovery community can achieve more and accelerate action on the ground, moving us toward our goal of a healthy and resilient Puget Sound. We are thankful for the leadership of Rep. Kilmer and Rep. Strickland and their resolute support for Puget Sound recovery, along with our partners and others who have worked so hard to make this happen.”
This funding increase is the latest in a series of efforts by Strickland to preserve and restore the Puget Sound. Over the past four years, Kilmer led the charge to reject the Trump Administration’s repeated proposals to eliminate the Puget Sound Geographic Program altogether, and successfully secured a 15% funding increase in 2021. Last week, with strong bipartisan support, the House voted to pass the Promoting United Government Efforts to Save Our Sound (PUGET SOS) Act of 2021 – introduced by Reps. Strickland and Kilmer to enhance the federal government’s role and investment in Puget Sound.
The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to vote to approve the fiscal year 2022 Interior and Environment bill on Thursday, July 1.
The Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, founded in 2013 by Rep. Derek Kilmer and former Rep. Denny Heck. It is currently co-chaired by Reps. Marilyn Strickland and Derek Kilmer, focuses on recovering Puget Sound through steps like preventing pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.