Last week, the United States Senate' appropriations committee approved two spending bills containing allocations of more than $60 million to fund Utah agriculture and energy projects.
According to Sen. Bob Bennett, the appropriations committee endorsed earmarking federal revenues to combat the Mormon cricket infestation in Utah and the ongoing clean-up effort at the Atlas tailings site in Moab.
"As our farmers and ranchers continue to suffer dramatic losses from the cricket infestation and the five-year drought, we must pursue all available options to provide relief," said Bennett, who serves as the chairman of the U.S. Senate subcommittee on agriculture. "This bump in funds to combat the cricket devastation helps us in this effort."
In the department of agriculture, rural development and related agencies appropriations bill, Bennett secured $4 million for Mormon cricket relief in western states, with $1 million earmarked for Utah. The 2004 allocation is up from $650,000 delivered to Utah last year.
The U.S. Department of Energy will also receive $6 million for continued cleanup at the Atlas uranium tailings site in Moab. The funds will be used for site remediation, including completion of the environmental impact statement, groundwater studies and stabilization efforts.
"I'm supportive of the progress DOE is making in its work to move the Atlas site," said Bennett. "These funds will help expedite this process."
In addition to the Mormon cricket control and tailings relocation, Bennett indicated that the appropriations bill includes aloocations for the following Utah agricultural and energy projects:
$886,000 for the Utah Botanical Center at Utah State University.
As one of the fastest growing states in the nation, Utah may soon be confronted with urban sprawl, a limited water supply, diminished public open space, and a shrinking resource base for native plants, wildlife as well as wetlands, according to the U.S. senator.
The federal revenues will assist the center reach the goal of reducing outdoor residential water use while maintaining landscape quality.
$750,000 for the drought management Initiative at USU
The initiative will research the impact of drought on the agricultural water supply and benefit agriculture producers and ranchers because more water will be available for irrigation.
$1.3 million to upgrade the predator ecology station at the Wildlife Research Center in Millville.
$1 million to initiate an air quality research program at USU.
Urban expansion into high production agricultural regions is pressuring producers to modify existing practices to reduce offensive or harmful emissions.
The federal funds will help establish an air quality research program, which will develop and evaluate effectiveness of procedures that measure agricultural emissions, and determine the environmental benefits on the agricultural industry, particularly the range livestock industry.
$1.1 million for the Dry Creek restoration project.
The federal revenues will continue restoration of the Dry Creek Corridor in Sandy city's Dimple Dell Park. The park has extensive damage caused by flooding.
$1.8 million for Dry Gulch, Martin Lateral, Muddy Creek, and Coal Creek flood control.
The federal monies will fund flood control and erosion protection for the communities of Roosevelt, Cedar City and Kanab.
$1.5 million for the biotechnology and genomics center at USU. The research will define how organisms interact with the environment by extracting information from existing genome sequences in plants, animals and microbes, pointed out Bennett.
$1.5 million for USU's Jack Berryman Institute . The monies will be used to expand existing programs at the institute, address increasing wildlife disease threats, enhance the ability to address wildlife economics and facilitate the cooperative relationship between USU and Mississippi State University.
$750,000 in federal revenues for the plant genetic diversity-discovery/ARS forage and rangeland research centers in Logan.
The funding will help create a plant genetic diversity and discovery center.
The facility will conduct research to find solutions for water availability, fire cycles, invasive weeds, and urbanization problems, indicated Bennett.
$500,000 in federal monies to subsidize vegetation manipulation research at Utah State University.
The funding will allow the university's colleges of natural resources, engineering and agriculture to work with private landowners and state as well as federal agencies to develop an integrated research project to investigate the impacts of vegetation manipulation on watershed processes, explained the U.S. senator.
$250,000 in federal revenues for Utah's concentrated animal feeding operation/pilot project.
The appropriations bill approved by the U.S. Senate panel will provide continued funding for the non-regulatory program to protect water quality from animal feeding operation discharge.
$250,000 in federal monies to subsidize pasture and forage research efforts at USU.
The research focuses on the integration of improved forage species and pastures that will result in a livestock production system to help maintain the livestock industry.
$250,000 for the biology and systematics lab at USU.
The laboratory conducts pollen research, which contributes to the ability of farmers to produce higher crop yields.
$44.2 million for completion of the Central Utah Project.
$6.2 million for the state reclamation and mitigation commission account.
$500,000 for the U.S. Army Corps' preparatory work on the Park city water supply infrastructure project.
$250,000 to finish a project that addresses the high levels of selenium at Stewart Lake in Uintah County.
The appropriations bill will proceed to the full U.S. Senate for consideration.