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Clinton seeks $183 million for the ocean

The Clinton plan would authorize $10.3 million for coral reefs -- a $10 million increase   

January 14, 1999
Web posted at: 11:00 AM EST

By Environmental News Network staff

(ENN) -- More than $183 million of a $1 billion lands conservation package announced by President Clinton Tuesday will go the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect America's coasts and promote smart growth strategies.

The $1 billion Lands Legacy Initiative, which will be part of Clinton's FY 2000 budget proposal, would more than double federal funding to buy land in national parks, Civil War battlefields, farm communities and coastal communities. If approved, it would be the largest one-year investment ever made in land conservation.

In 1965, Congress approved the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which authorizes the spending of as much as $900 million annually to purchase public land. Congress has routinely diverted much of the money for other purposes, however, and no president has ever submitted a budget requesting full funding of the LWCF.

The initiative includes $29 million to expand and protect NOAA's national marine sanctuaries; $90 million to states to protect and restore coastal lands; $19 million to states for estuaries protection; and $45 million to restore coral reefs, fisheries and marine habitats.
Clinton proposes $1 billion land-preservation package

"This is an investment to provide coastal communities with the tools and resources for smart growth that is environmentally sound and economically sustainable," said NOAA Deputy Administrator Terry Garcia. "The marine and coastal resources of this nation are a public treasure; we are committed to ensuring they are a national legacy as well."

The initiative announced today includes funding for:

National Marine Sanctuaries -- $29 million, a 107 percent increase, to strengthen protections at 12 marine sanctuaries off California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, Washington and American Samoa, and to plan for future marine sanctuaries. The funding will allow NOAA to accelerate the adoption and implementation of management plans for existing sanctuaries and expand outreach activities with coastal communities.

Coastal Zone Management Act Program -- $90 million, a 55 percent increase to help states implement Critical Coastal Area Management and Restoration Plans. The matching grants can be used to acquire lands or to undertake other efforts to protect wildlife habitat, protect life and property from coastal hazards and revitalize ports and urban waterfronts.

National Estuarine Research Reserves System -- $19 million, a 375 percent increase, to expand a network of critical estuaries representing all the biological regions along America's coasts. Twenty-two reserves in 19 states and territories manage about 500,000 acres. The proposed funding would double the protected acreage.

Coral Reef Restoration -- $10.3 million, a $10 million increase, to protect coral reefs from pollution and other human impacts. NOAA, in conjunction with the Department of the Interior, would restore injured reefs in Puerto Rico, Florida, Hawaii and U.S. territories, and develop a coral nursery to grow donor material for restoration projects.

Coastal Dredge Area Restoration -- $10 million for NOAA to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and coastal communities to use material dredged from ports and shipping channels to restore coastal habitats. Dredging is critical to keep shipping lanes open and deepen channels to accommodate larger ships. Reusing dredge benefits the environment and reduces disposal costs.

Fisheries Habitat Restoration -- $25 million for NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service to acquire and protect critical coastal habitats.

Groups such as Trout Unlimited are praising the plan. "Land protected in public ownership is critical for valuable fisheries habitat, especially in the sensitive headwaters watersheds where trout and salmon live," said Steve Moyer, Trout Unlimited vice president for conservation programs. "With 25 trout and salmon species already listed as threatened or endangered, and others close to being listed, buying key watersheds and riparian areas is one of the best things we can do."

Other ocean conservation groups have yet to heard from.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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