Merkley, Wyden Announce U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now Accepting Restoration Proposals for Klamath Basin

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will begin accepting grant proposals for restoration activities in the Klamath Basin. Over the next five years, project proposals that are approved will receive federal funding to address longstanding water problems in the Basin.  As Chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, Merkley secured this pool of $162 million dedicated specifically for Klamath Basin restoration projects in the infrastructure law.

“The Klamath Basin made it through the worst drought in recent history in 2021. From businesses and families, to fish and wildlife, I know everyone in the Basin was deeply impacted,” said Senator Merkley. “As Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, I was able to secure $162 million specifically for the Klamath Basin. Over the next five years, these funds from the bipartisan infrastructure bill will help expand ongoing fish and habitat recovery efforts and water quality improvements in the Klamath Basin.

“I am thrilled to know the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has begun the process of accepting requests for proposals for the first portion of the $162 million allocated towards the Klamath Basin,” Merkley continued. “I encourage tribes, farmers, fisherman and others to pitch their best ideas and take advantage of this historic opportunity. I will continue to use my position on the Appropriations Committee to make a difference, and support efforts by the Basin and all of Oregon to prepare and respond to more frequent and severe droughts caused by climate chaos.”

“Between record-setting high temperatures and crippling drought, Oregon has been hit hard by the climate crisis,” said Senator Wyden. “This funding will play a critical role in the recovery of fish and fish habitat in the Klamath Basin. Collecting input from all relevant local stakeholders including tribes, ranchers, and farmers, is critical to ensuring these much-needed funds are put to the best possible use helping the Klamath community recover from the ongoing water crisis.”

USFWS invites restoration project proposals from Tribes, local and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other conservation partners who are committed to finding long-term solutions that will move the Basin forward. Project proposals must demonstrate how planned restoration activity will improve conditions and achieve habitat restoration for native fish and other aquatic species throughout the Klamath Basin. These project grants are intended to support or help improve river, riparian, lake, and wetland habitats, which historically supported millions of fish and water birds. Applicants are encouraged to submit project proposals that seek out or build upon opportunities for collaboration with other conservation partners in the Klamath Basin.  

Senator Merkley has also used his position on the Appropriations Committee, along with Senator Wyden as a senior member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, time and again over the years to fight for funding as the Klamath Basin has faced severe drought challenges, including:

  • $45 million for the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency to help respond to drought conditions in 2021 and 2022.
  • $32 million for the Fremont-Winema National Forest to help recover from the Bootleg Fire, which Merkley secured as part of the 2021 disaster supplemental.
  • $33 million in funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildfire Services to support habitat restoration and fish recovery efforts since 2018.  
  • $5 million in the pending FY22 Energy and Water Appropriations bill to modernize the Klamath Project.
  • $2 million in the pending FY22 Interior Appropriations bill for Klamath County to modernize the Wood River Irrigation District.