Federal Update for December 2008


The election of a new president, the appointment of a new cabinet and the changing face of Congress are all good news to the tribes, and to everyone else who cares about a healthy environment and sustainable economies. But, for FY 2009, the tribes still face a funding crisis that threatens their ability to support their basic fisheries management responsibilities, and thus threatens their treaty and indigenous rights and sovereignty. They are experiencing a serious erosion of their base natural resource management funding, which since 1975 has been included in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Resources Management, Wildlife & Parks, Rights Protection Implementation account and in the Self-Governance Compacts account.

With the level of base funding now being provided, tribes can no longer effectively manage their treaty protected resources

The base fisheries management funding now being provided to the tribes, adjusted for inflation, is less than it was 30 years ago. Yet their management responsibilities have greatly increased. The initial base contract funding under P.L. 93-638 to implement relevant federal court cases and to protect trust resources was established at a level to cover the minimal responsibilities initially identified by the courts as necessary management functions. Since 1975, the management responsibilities required of the tribes have increased exponentially. Also, tribes have taken on collaborative conservation initiatives working with all governments and citizens in the region to address many difficult resource management problems.

Yet, base funding has stagnated and inflationary costs have eaten away at the buying power of existing funds, so tribes have had to cobble together funding from other sources to meet their basic management responsibilities. These sources are inadequate as they are usually program and project-specific and not sustainable from year to year. The funds have not been built into the base, so tribal programs have been forced to rely on annual funding commitments—an ever difficult task in tough budget times.


The solution is to increase the annual funding amounts provided by BIA through the Resources Management, Wildlife & Parks, Rights Protection Implementation account and the Self-Governance Compacts account to restore buying power to a level commensurate with management responsibilities. This means an annual increase of $12 million for NWIFC and its member tribes and $4.5 million for CRITFC and its member tribes. It also means the amounts now being provided to tribes for reoccurring programs (but not included in the base) should now be included in base line items. Examples are the Washington Timber-Fish-Wildlife, Mass Marking and Salmon and Steelhead Habitat Inventory and Assessment Programs.


Northwest fisheries resources are in trouble and it is clear that this hurts the economy. As more species are listed under ESA more businesses fail and more jobs are lost. It’s time to do business differently. The co-management relationship between the tribal, state and federal governments is critical to success in this region. The tribes have recognized the value of working collaboratively with everyone who lives and works here to craft solutions that will strengthen both natural resources and the economy. But without adequate funding support for the tribal management infrastructure this vision can not be realized. “The policies of the Bush Administration have driven the tribes’ ability to continue to be effective co-managers to the brink of collapse. Reinvesting in this infrastructure means more jobs will be created that will allow the tribes to reinvigorate their collaborative efforts, and that will once again help move this region’s natural resources and economy towards recovery. In preparing for his presidency, all the signs are that Barack Obama understands this, and is ready to do something about it. He is listening to tribal requests during his transition, and Northwest tribes have been working through their commissions to present their requests in a united fashion,” said NWIFC Chairman Billy Frank, Jr.


President-Elect Barack Obama has named his Energy and Environment team, saying, “The future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked to one challenge: energy. The team that I have assembled here today is uniquely suited to meet the great challenges of this defining moment. They are leading experts and accomplished managers, and they are ready to reform government and help transform our economy so that our people are more prosperous, our nation is more secure, and our planet is protected.”

Obama’s choice for Interior Secretary will be Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar.
The appointment will round out Obama’s environment and energy team, which includes Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy; Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator; Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change; and Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. Obama said he is not the first leader to promise dramatic efforts on climate change and American energy independence, but “this time must be different,” he said. “This is not a challenge for government alone – it is a challenge for all of us. The pursuit of a new energy economy requires a sustained, all-hands-on-deck effort because the foundation of our energy independence is right here, in America.”

The following link provides an ongoing update of Obama appointments, with background information, plans and programs, courtesy of The Seattle Times:

Obama builds a new administration


Like Obama, Northwest tribes have been getting the ball rolling for the next administration before it begins. Tribal leaders have conducted meetings with NWIFC & CRITFC staff to develop plans to share regarding natural resource priorities and issues. On November 26, a list of such issues was presented to the Obama transition team. Following is a brief glimpse of those issues.

Tribal Sovereignty/Trust Responsibility: Brief background statements were provided and it was pointed out that the Bush Administration has done nothing to help Northwest tribes recover from cuts in TPA funding, flattening of the base, etc. Actions called for include restoration of the BIA funding base, prompt appointment of good Assistant Secretaries of Indian Affairs and Policy Management and Budget, adoption of policies supporting tribal leadership in salmon management and support for a tribal fish and wildlife act.

Federal/Tribal Infrastructure: Funding cutbacks have been seriously problematic under the Bush Administration, even as tribal fisheries management responsibilities have grown, e.g., Northwest tribes have supported efforts to reform hatcheries for over 30 years, yet capital funding for reform has been limited or non-existent. Funding attrition is crippling salmon restoration efforts. Since 2002, funding for Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery has dropped 40% from $110 million annually to $66.5 million. Bush’s FY 2009 budget recommends a further reduction to $35 million. It also contains about a 25% cut ($3.8 million) in the Mitchell Act hatchery programs, and eliminates other critically needed programs to protect and enhance northwest fisheries. Many federal agencies depend on tribal collaboration to protect treaty resources and restore fish and wildlife. Tribal fishing boats have been docked or sold off because the resource can no longer provide a reliable living. Actions called for by tribes include development of a cross-department budget approach to salmon restoration in collaboration with tribes to increase effectiveness of federal investment and reduce delays; restoration of funding BIA Rights Protection, PCSRF, Mitchell Act and other key salmon programs; full funding of hatchery reform and capital infrastructure needs; funding of harvest management and emergency response programs; and incorporation of budget funding for the Timber, Fish and Wildlife program.

Water: Degraded water quality and quantity in Northwest rivers and streams are among the greatest threats to tribal natural resources. Climate change exacerbates these issues. Protection and restoration of tribes’ water rights continue to be a critical policy priority. The Obama administration is being asked to establish dedicated staff/funding for tribes to continue or begin negotiations for water right settlements; provide direction and leadership in the region to support necessary water quantity and quality needed to properly implement ESA salmon recovery; coordinate water and watershed conservation; fully implement TMDLs for the Columbia River, Puget Sound, and tributaries, and establish water quality standards to protect Indian health.

Climate Change: Natural resources management, climate change and energy independence are linked in the Northwest as we manage hydro power and energy demands to safeguard salmon and other species. A national fish-compatible energy policy should be developed to address climate change. Tribes must be involved in climate change solutions, as governmental partners.

Endangered Species: Under Bush, the ESA Secretarial Order of 1997, intended to harmonize federal treaty duties, trust responsibility and ESA has fallen by the wayside. Tribes are asking Obama to reinstate the terms of that Secretarial Order.

Pacific Salmon Treaty Implementation: The 2008 PST negotiations of trans-boundary, Chinook, coho, and southern chum agreements are completed and the US and Canada are conducting domestic consultation processes on the agreements. The proposed Chinook Agreement requires both countries to secure funding for implementation. State and tribal PSC Commissioners are working to secure additional funds. The Northwest Congressional Delegation is committed to the agreement and has recommended additional funding in the FY 2010 budget for the State and Commerce departments.




Legislation affecting fisheries likely to resurface in the 111th Congress. Among others, proposals may include these or similar bills:

FY2009 Appropriations (Continuing Resolution is through March 6, 2009)

S.1870 The Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, would amend the Clean Water Act to, among other things, replace the term “navigable waters” with the term “waters of the United States,” defined to mean all waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, the territorial seas and all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds, and all impoundments of the foregoing, to the fullest extent that these waters, or activities affecting them, are subject to the legislative power of Congress under the Constitution.

S.3036 The Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, would direct EPA to establish a program to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases by, among other things, establishing a federal greenhouse gas registry, for which certain facilities must report information regarding fossil fuels and GHGs produced and consumed; and specified quantities of GHG emission allowances, which must decline for each year 2012 to 2050. Latest Major Action: 7/8/2008 Senate floor actions. Status: Returned to the Calendar.

S.3552 The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, is intended to treat the causes of fish habitat decline by restoring healthy waterways by leveraging the efforts and funds of Federal Government agencies, state and local governments, conservation groups,fishing industry groups, and businesses and building partnerships aimed at addressing the nation’s biggest fisheries problems and fostering fish habitat conservation efforts , using a bottom-up multi-state approach of habitat improvement. The Act authorizes $75 million annually to be directed toward fish habitat projects supported by regional Fish Habitat Partnerships, based on the North American Wetlands Conservation Act model, and establishing a multi-stakeholder National Fish Habitat Board charged with recommending projects to the Secretary of Interior for funding.

S.3608, The Salmon Stronghold bill. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, would establish a volunteer Salmon Stronghold Partnership program intended to complement the PCSR Fund in protecting wild Pacific salmon by proactively maintaining rivers (or salmon strongholds) by enhancing federal, tribal, state and local governments, public and land managers, fisheries managers, power authorities and NGO organizations. (In introducing the legislation, Sen. Cantwell said, “It is time to increase funding to recovery efforts, but also focus on prevention. It is time to adopt the kind of comprehensive solution that can solidify wild Pacific salmon’s place in American culture for generations to come.”) Latest Major Action: 9/26/2008. Referred to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

H.R. 1907 The Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act, sponsored by Jim Saxton of New Jersey. This bill would direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish a program to protect the environmental integrity of undeveloped coastal and estuarine areas. It would authorize the Secretary to make grants to coastal states with approved coastal zone management plans or National Estuarine Research Reserve units for the purpose of acquiring property that will further the goals of an approved Coastal Zone Management Plan or Program, a National Estuarine Research Reserve management plan, or a regional or state watershed protection plan. It would prohibit any more than 75% of the funding for any project under this Act from being derived from federal sources. It would reserve 15% of program funds for acquisitions benefiting the National Estuarine Research Reserve and authorize the acquisition of land and interests in land from willing sellers to improve the conservation of, and to enhance the ecological values and functions of, coastal and estuarine areas to benefit both the environment and the economies of coastal communities, and for other purposes. Latest Major Action: 10/2/2008 Read twice. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar.

H.R. 2421 The Clean Water Restoration Act, sponsored by Rep. James Oberstar of Minnesota, would clarify the original intent of Congress to protect all waters of the United States under the Clean Water Act. Current Status: The House Committee on Oversight and Government. Latest Major Action: 4/16/2008, House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee Hearings Held.

H.R. 5263 The Encouraging Collaborative Restoration of Federal Forests Act, sponsored by Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, would encourage collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes on federal lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service through a joint Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. Forest Landscape Restoration Act – Directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program to select and fund ecological restoration treatments for priority forest landscapes. It sets forth provisions concerning the eligibility criteria for, and nomination and selection of, collaborative forest landscape restoration proposals for carrying out such treatments. It requires the Secretary to establish a scientific advisory panel to evaluate, and provide recommendations on, any proposal with respect to the strength of the ecological case of the proposal for landscape restoration and the proposed restoration strategies; and whether the proposal is likely to achieve reductions in long-term wildfire management costs. It authorizes the Secretary to establish a technical advisory panel to evaluate, and provide recommendations on any proposal with respect to whether the proposal is likely to reduce the relative costs of carrying out treatments resulting from the use of woody biomass and small-diameter trees and to provide local economic benefit. It establishes the Collaborative Forest Landscape Fund, to be used for paying up to 50% of the cost of carrying out ecological restoration treatments on National Forest System land for each proposal selected. It requires: (1) creation of implementation work plans and budgets to implement proposals; (2) submission of annual reports on the accomplishments of selected proposals; (3) use of a multiparty monitoring, evaluation, and accountability process to assess the ecological, social, and economic effects of projects implementing proposals; and (4) submission of reports every five years on the Program. Latest Major Action: 7/10/2008 House Subcommittee on Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry Hearings Held.

H.R.5451 The Reauthorizing Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, sponsored by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo of Guam, would amend the CZMA to authorize appropriations for grants under provisions relating to administration of a state’s coastal zone management program, resource management improvement, coastal zone enhancement, and national estuarine reserves. It would authorize the use of amounts in the Coastal Zone Management Fund for expenses incidental to the administration of the Act and, beginning in FY2009, the portion of amounts appropriated to carry out provisions relating to administration of a state’s coastal zone management program and resource management improvement to be retained for use in implementing coastal zone enhancement grant provisions. Latest Major Action: 6/4/2008 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote.

H.R.5741/( S.3231), The High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo of Guam, would amend the High Seas Driftnet Fishing Moratorium Protection Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to improve the conservation of sharks. House Natural Resources; Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Latest Major Action: 7/9/2008 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

[H.R.6186.IH], The Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act, sponsored by Rep Edward Markey of Massachusetts, would among other things direct EPA to establish a program to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases by amending the Clean Air Act and establishing a federal greenhouse gas registry, for which affected entities must report information regarding fossil fuels and the gases produced, consumed, or sequestered (including specific quantities of emission allowances, which must decline for each year 2012 to 2050 and an emission allowance transfer system for specific covered facilities that emit more than 10,000 carbon dioxide equivalents in a year). Latest Major Action: 6/12/2008 Referred to House subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

H.R.6537, The Sanctuary Enhancement Act of 2008, sponsored by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo of Guam, would amend the National Marine Sanctuaries Act to require that the sanctuary system consist of national marine sanctuaries authorized or established by an Act of Congress (in addition to sanctuaries currently designated by the Secretary of Commerce) and marine national monuments. It sets forth the system’s mission and requires the Secretary to prepare, maintain, and update an ecological classification of the nation’s marine environment and an identification of maritime heritage resources as a national inventory of marine eco-regions and maritime heritage resources under U.S. jurisdiction. It also requires the Secretary to strive to include in the system by 2030 sites that will incorporate a full range of the nation’s marine eco-regions and rare and unique marine habitats, and a full range of maritime heritage resource areas. It modifies various requirements regarding the designation and implementation of marine sanctuaries and it expands the list of prohibited activities. Latest Action: 7/24/2008 Hearings Held by the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans.

H.R.6689, The Chinook Nation Restoration Act, sponsored by Rep. Brian Baird of Washington, would restore Federal recognition to the Chinook Nation and makes the Chinook Tribe and its members eligible for all services and benefits provided by the government to federally recognized tribes regardless of the existence of a reservation or the location of residence of any member on or near any Indian reservation. Provides that, for purposes of the delivery of federal services to enrolled members, the Tribe’s service area shall consist of specified counties in Washington and Oregon. Latest Major Action: 7/31/2008 Referred to House Committee on Natural Resources.

[S.2301.IS ] The Native American Fish and Wildlife Management Act, solely sponsored by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii (introduced 4/7/2004) was intended to improve the management of Indian fish and wildlife and gathering resources. Among numerous other things, it would have required the Secretary of the Interior to establish the Tribal Fish and Wildlife Resource Management Program and the Alaska Native Fish and Wildlife Resource Management Program to conduct specified activities in support of the tribal administration of resources. It would have directed the Secretary, upon the request of an Indian tribal government, to conduct a survey of the reservation or traditional use area of that tribal government to assess actual needs regarding management of fish and wildlife resources and the development of Fish and Wildlife Resource Management Plans by Indian tribal governments and Alaska Native fish and wildlife organizations (or alternatively, by the Secretary) and for plans to cooperatively govern the management and administration of tribal or Indian fish and wildlife resources by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the tribal government. It would have required the Secretaries of the Interior, Commerce, and Agriculture to review the management of resources in regional resource management and traditional use areas and called for augmentation of resources to meet needs as appropriate. Latest Major Action: 7/21/2004 Senate committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Committee on Indian Affairs. Ordered to be reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute favorably.

Notes: The bills described above are those which have been discussed to date in tribal leadership transition meetings, and are by no means the only bills of concern that may (or may not) be considered in the next Congress. The needed action is for both the Congress and the new Administration to consult with tribes in developing positions on legislative and policy proposals. Priority bills will continue to be highlighted in Federal Update. For more information online, please consult www.thomas.loc.gov or contact Steve Robinson at [email protected] or (360) 528-4347.