Elwha project gets NPS centennial grant money
August 24th, 2007 - 8:08am
(Port Angeles) -- An education program about the Elwha ecosystem restoration and a project to monitor a proposed fisher reintroduction in Olympic National Park are eligible for federal matching funds. The pair of project were among more than 200 announced yesterday by National Park Service Director Mary Bomar and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne at a press conference in Yosemite National Park to celebrate the 91st anniversary of the N-P-S. Development of a comprehensive, national-level education program about restoration of the Elwha River is one of nearly 370-million dollars worth of proposals eligible for centennial challenge matching funds. Removal of two dams on the Elwha River will restore the river to its natural free-flowing state, allowing all five species of Pacific salmon to once again reach habitat and spawning grounds. With financial support pledged by park partner Washington's National Park Fund and in collaboration with Olympic Park Institute and Western Carolina University, the park will expand its education programs about this landmark restoration project. New web-based programs, including online curriculum, videos and podcasts will be added to the park's website and new publications, exhibits and ranger-led education programs will be developed. The second Olympic project proposal, to evaluate the success of a proposed reintroduced fisher population was also announced. Fishers, housecat-sized members of the weasel family, are native to the forests of Washington, but no longer exist in the state due to over trapping and habitat loss. More information and the complete list of centennial challenge-eligible projects and programs is available on-line at the National Park Service centennial web site: www.nps.gov/2016. The centennial initiative has two major components. The first, as outlined in the President's fiscal year 2008 budget, calls for an additional 100-million dollars a year for 10 years to bolster basic park operations. Congress has included the first 100-million for operations in the fiscal year 2008 budget that awaits final passage. At Olympic, this part of the initiative would allow for additional seasonal employees to present education programs, and provide routine maintenance and emergency response. The second part of the initiative is the centennial challenge is a funding mechanism that would match up to $100 million a year over 10 years in public money with 100 million a year for 10 years in private donations. Officials say Congress has yet to finish the legislation necessary to create the public-private centennial challenge.
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