Tribes in Western Washington will receive $50 million in federal funding from the infrastructure bill, effectively doubling support for restoration and protection of Puget Sound.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday in Sequim that it will give the money over the next five years to the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, which supports 20 treaty tribes.
Previously, the EPA provided the commission with $50 million over 10 years to support habitat restoration, infrastructure updates, water quality, commercial fisheries, flood protection and climate resiliency.
“For too long, the federal government has failed to live up to its trust and treaty responsibilities — and persistently failed to provide the federal funding needed to invest in the infrastructure our tribal communities need,” said U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, in a statement.
Projects that will benefit include the restoration, conservation and monitoring of Sequim Bay, the Dungeness River flood plain, Chambers Creek, Lummi Bay and the Nooksack and Skokomish rivers.
The funding — $7.5 million as a down payment for up to $50 million — was announced by Casey Sixkiller, EPA regional administrator for District 10, who was appointed in May by President Joe Biden.
Sixkiller, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is responsible for implementing the Biden administration’s climate agenda in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and 271 tribal nations.
“This funding made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law ensures that this region’s tribes — the original stewards of Puget Sound — will continue to lead our joint efforts to restore and protect these waters for future generations,” Sixkiller said Tuesday.
The infrastructure law, which the president signed last November, authorizes more than $100 billion i for federal public transportation programs nationwide.
“All of the tribes eligible for this funding depend on Puget Sound fish and shellfish for subsistence, ceremony and commerce,” Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Chairman Ed Johnstone said Tuesday. “We are deeply concerned by the threat of climate change to our usual and accustomed areas and treaty-protected rights. Our economic and cultural well-being is directly linked to the health of our homelands.”