December 21, 2023 — The Department of the Interior announced on Tuesday a significant investment of over $51 million for ecosystem restoration projects across eight states, funded by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. This funding, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will be allocated through the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program. These projects aim to improve aquatic habitats, enhance fish passages, and support wildlife, contributing to regional benefits and environmental health.
Nature-Based Solutions and Environmental Benefits.
Secretary Deb Haaland emphasized that these initiatives, as part of the Investing in America agenda, focus on nature-based solutions that support local water supplies and habitats. Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton highlighted the projects’ role in bolstering climate resilience and ecosystem restoration, improving water quality, and mitigating drought and flood impacts.
Highlighting the Las Vegas Wash Project.
During a visit to the Las Vegas Wash project, Commissioner Touton announced the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s receipt of $20 million to create a wetland within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This project aims to enhance water quality and protect endangered species in Las Vegas Bay.
Nationwide Impact and Future Investments.
President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is noted as the largest investment in climate resilience in U.S. history. The Bureau of Reclamation plans to invest $8.3 billion over five years in various water infrastructure projects, with over $2.9 billion already allocated to 421 projects in the first two years.
Specific Projects and Their Impacts.
The announcement included specific projects in California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. These projects range from restoring fish habitats and improving fish passage to controlling erosion and reconnecting floodplains. For example, the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s project in Nevada focuses on creating wetlands and habitat improvements in the Las Vegas Wash, benefiting water quality and wildlife, including endangered species.
Each project reflects a commitment to restoring and protecting aquatic ecosystems, with far-reaching benefits for climate resilience, environmental health, and community well-being.
Image and Additional Information:
Las Vegas Wash via the Bureau of Reclamation’s press release.