$5 million to Northwest Tribes: Federal funds to help restore Sockeye Salmon habitat

Oregon’s U.S.
Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announce a total of $ 5,041,495 million
from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will be awarded to the
Nez Perce Tribe, in partnership with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla
Indian Reservation (CTUIR) and other partners, to restore sockeye salmon
habitat connectivity at the Wallowa Lake Dam.

“Sockeye salmon
are important not just to the culture of the CTUIR and Nez Perce Tribe but to
the entire Pacific Northwest,” said Senator Merkley, who chairs the Senate
Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which funded the program. “So we all
owe a debt to these tribes, who are helping restore the 100 year old Wallowa
Lake Dam to restore sockeye salmon populations in Northeastern Oregon. This
federal funding will help increase river flows, which will benefit not just the
fish populations, but nearby communities as well through increased recreation
opportunities, the protection of drinking water sources, and support for
ranchers and growers during times of droughts.”

“This $5 million
federal investment to restore sockeye salmon in Oregon’s northeastern corner
marks a significant win for fish and the tribes working hard to build back this
natural connection,” Wyden said. “This win for the Wallowa Lake Dam
also will ripple out into gains for recreation, clean water and river flows
that will help ranchers and farmers to weather droughts.”

NFWF announced
nearly $91 million in grants through the new America the Beautiful Challenge
(ATBC), funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other federal
conservation programs and private sources. This $5,041,495 grant will enable a
collaboration among two federally recognized Tribes, an irrigation district,
and the State of Oregon to complete rehabilitation of the Wallowa Lake Dam to
balance rural community resilience and economic benefit with improved aquatic
habitat connectivity for at-risk fish through engineering and construction at
the high-hazard dam to connect hundreds of miles of sockeye salmon spawning

Merkley and Wyden sent
a letter to NFWF’s Chairman, J. Michael Cline, spotlighting their support for
the Wallowa Lake Dam Rehabilitation and Wallowa River Restoration Project.
Senator Merkley, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and
Senator Wyden were able to secure $2 million in the Fiscal Year 2022 spending
bill for the Wallowa Lake Dam Rehabilitation project to support this important