For the first time since 2019, we traveled to Washington DC to attend the annual National Estuary Program convening and to meet with Congressional leaders representing our lower Columbia River study area.
The meetings with members of Congress provided an opportunity to share the accomplishments of the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership and the Association of National Estuary Programs. The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership leverages its annual National Estuary Program federal appropriation to bring additional resources sources to the region, to engage stakeholders, and develop new projects to restore and care for the lower Columbia estuary.
During our visit, we met the following member of Congress’s staff: Senator Patty Murray (WA); Senator Jeff Merkley (OR); Representative Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA CD-3); Representative Suzanne Bonamici (OR CD-1); Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR CD-3); and Representative Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR CD-5).
Many of these congressional leaders have a long track record as champions of the National Estuary Program and efforts to restore and protect the Columbia River -- Representative Bonamici co-chair of the Congressional Estuary Caucus and Senator Merkley was a strong proponent of the Columbia River Basin Restoration Act. We also appreciated the opportunity to highlight our work in meetings with staff representing the newly elected Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer.
As a Congressionally authorized program, it is important for us to connect regularly with our federal delegation to share on-the-ground information and insight about the lower Columbia River. The Lower Columbia Estuary Program is one of 28 designated estuaries in the National Estuary Program located along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts and in Puerto Rico. The National Estuary Program (NEP) was established by Congress and was authorized by section 320 of the Clean Water Act in 1987. The Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership was formed through this program in 1995. The National Estuary Program was re-authorized by Congress in 2020 in the Restore America’s Estuaries Act.
As a bonus, we were in Washington DC during “peak bloom” of the famous cherry trees lining the Washington Mall. We also found a little bit of extra time to explore the local attractions, including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the U.S Botanic Garden.