by Cynthia Wilkerson, The Wilderness Society
As we bid adieu to 2012, it is a good time to celebrate the success and momentum of the past year and to look forward to more progress in 2013 for the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan.
In 2012, our Yakima Basin Conservation Campaign focused its work on raising awareness and support for the Integrated Plan. The Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement came out in March detailing the major components of the Plan. Our collective efforts with the YBIP Implementation Committee resulted in over 15 letters of support or resolutions from in-basin and statewide organizations, as well as in-basin municipalities for the goals, framework and process to move the Integrated Plan forward. We also spent time talking with federal and state decision makers about the broad-based support for the Integrated Plan, the concept of forming a Washington DC Leadership Team of federal agencies, headed up by the Assistant Secretary of the Interior, to assist in moving the Plan forward at the federal level.
As 2013 dawns, we are excited to report that the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan is already moving into the state legislative session in Olympia. Representatives Chandler, Blake, Warnick, and Tharinger have cosponsored H.B. 1196, requested by the State Department of Ecology. The bill concerns support for the overall Integrated Plan and has its first hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee next week. We also expect to be working on a Capitol budget request to kick off a major contribution of state funds for the Integrated Plan in this session. Outgoing Governor Chris Gregoire included $20.9 million in funds in her final budget and newly sworn in Governor Jay Inslee clearly expressed his commitment to the Integrated Plan as the number one agricultural jobs priority during his campaign.
The Yakima Basin Conservation Campaign is also looking forward to the next round of discussions at the Watershed Lands Subcommittee to utilize all of the outreach and input we’ve received in 2012 into the refinement of a Lands Package.
More great progress to come and we’ll keep you informed!