Mar 30 2017
Yakima River Basin and National Heritage Area Bills Also Pass
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed Ranking Member Maria Cantwell’s (D-Wash.) Methow Valley Headwaters bill to protect the watershed from mining. The committee reported the bill on a voice vote as part of a package of 59 bills, four of which were sponsored by Sen. Cantwell.
The Methow Headwaters Protection Act of 2017 (S. 566) would protect 340,000 acres of National Forest in the Methow Valley from potential development into a large-scale copper mine and other mineral development. The legislation would protect the headwaters of the Methow River Valley, which provides clean water to downstream communities and supports local tourism, critical salmon restoration, as well as ranching and farming economies.
The Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project (S. 714) bill was originally passed, last Congress, as part of the bipartisan energy bill. Sen. Cantwell’s reintroduced bill addresses water security needs in the Yakima River Basin, which is one of the Columbia River Basin’s most significant tributaries, through an unprecedented, collaborative approach that has become a national model for water management. The bill authorizes key elements of a plan to meet the long-term water needs of both humans and nature through a combination of conservation, restoration, fish recovery and drought relief measures.
The committee passed legislation designating the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area and the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area (S. 713). The bill designates Washington state’s Mountains to Sound Greenway—1.5 million acres of land stretching along the Interstate 90 corridor from Seattle to Ellensburg—as a National Heritage Area to help preserve and promote its scenery, resources and history for future generations. The Maritime Washington National Heritage Act designates Western Washington’s shorelines along the coast, Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca as a National Heritage Area to help promote maritime-related history and tourism. The areas would be the first national heritage area designations in the Pacific Northwest, and would help promote local economic growth and preserve cultural sites and landmarks of historical significance.
The committee also passed the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System (S. 346), which Sen. Cantwell co-sponsored with Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). The legislation would improve the nation’s volcano monitoring and early warning capabilities to help keep communities safe. Washington state has five high-threat volcanoes in the Cascade Range, yet there is a significant gap in monitoring and understanding this volcanic activity. The bill seeks to improve science and technology to help communities be more prepared for volcanic hazards.