Waters Funding Bill To Advance in Congress 2

From National Audubon Society The U.S. Senate is expected to pass important legislation next week that would authorize restoration of important ecosystems like the Mississippi River, Great Lakes and the Gulf. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) would authorize ecosystem restoration projects whose funding is considered crucial by conservationists and long overdue. The House has already passed its version (H.R. 2864). EVERGLADES RESTORATION -The Indian River Lagoon and Picayune Strand are two crucial restoration projects scheduled for authorization in WRDA. Both projects mitigate harmful federal drainage projects and help the Everglades by restoring more than 160,000 acres of wetlands and significant estuarine habitat. The projects will also improve water quality for the Everglades, Florida Bay, 10,000 Islands, St. Lucie Estuary, and Lake Okeechobee. MISSISSIPPI RIVER RESTORATION - The Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program, in its first 15-year increment, will restore 105,000 acres of habitat, protect 35,000 acres of floodplain habitat in five states along the river, and will include a significant monitoring program. COASTAL LOUISIANA RESTORATION - The Louisiana coastline is disappearing as coastal wetlands erode at an alarming rate (more than 1.2 million acres since 1930), with devastating effects to the region's quality of life. The Coastal Louisiana Restoration program will begin to reverse this devastating pattern of land loss, protecting important habitat for birds, fish, and other wildlife, as well as the region's economy and quality of life. GREAT LAKES RESTORATION - The Great Lakes face imminent threat from sewage contamination, invasive exotic species destroying native wildlife populations and habitat, and disappearing wetlands that buffer and clean the lakes. Among other things, the bill will permanently authorize the Asian carp Barrier to protect the Great Lakes from invasives. MORE ON WRDA - The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) (S. 728) would authorize ecosystem restoration projects, which in turn would mitigate harmful federal drainage projects, restore more than 300,000 acres of wetlands and significant estuarine habitat nationally, and help secure America's tourism and outdoor recreation economy. Audubon believes WRDA 2006 should also include Corps modernization provisions as proposed by Sens. McCain and Feingold, including independent review of costly or controversial Corps projects and ensuring that mitigation for Corps projects is consistent with stricter state laws. We look forward to your questions or comments and please feel free to contact me for more details, such as proposed amendments. If you do not wish to receive further updates, just reply and let me know.