‘There’s a lot in that bill that matters to us’: Merkley speaks on funding, including $24 million for C. Oregon projects


WASHINGTON — Eight Central Oregon projects are receiving about $24 million in federal funds, and many more projects across the state are also included in spending bills recently passed by Congress, Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a series of announcements this week.

Wyden and Merkley said the 2024 fiscal funding package includes $42 million for environmental, wildfire, and water projects in the state.

“Being able to manage appropriately, both our U.S. Forest lands and our BLM, Bureau of Land Management lands and take into account things like we want to make sure that our Crater Lake is funded, our national parks are funded, our trails, and so forth. So there’s a lot in that bill that matters to us in the spending bills,” Senator Merkley told NewsChannel 21 Thursday.

Of the 111 Oregon projects, eight are in Central Oregon: the Tumalo Irrigation District received $3.5 million for farm and ranch canal piping, the City of Redmond received $1.25 million to construct a sewer plant line, and the city of Prineville gets $1 million to provide safe drinking water for lower-income communities.

“Those projects deliver more of our precious water to the farmers and ranchers but also put water back in the stream to help with the environment. So it’s a win-win,” the senator said.

 Concerns about irrigation and clean water have been raised repeatedly during town hall meetings in Central Oregon, according to the senator. “And I think we’re now well over 100 projects that will be funded across Oregon. The community said, ‘Here’s our top priorities,’ and that includes some key projects in Central Oregon.”

Other projects getting new federal funding include the Hawthorne pedestrian and bike bridge planned from downtown Bend to the Eastside, the new control tower for the Bend Municipal Airport, and the Arnold and North unit irrigation districts’ canal piping work.

“It’s really a chance to help address the issues we see as so important out West,” Merkley said.

The fiscal year 2024 package was passed by the U.S. House and Senate and signed into law by President Biden this week, avoiding a government shutdown.

Senator Merkley says that he plans to hold more town hall meetings in the state soon to begin working on the fiscal year 2025 funding package.