KNOXVILLE, TN (Gray News/WVLT) - In a viral video Tweeted by Congressman Tim Burchett after he voted “no” on the government spending bill on Feb. 14, he mentioned his disdain for the approval of $65 million for “studying salmon.”
“Man, you can go to the Red Lobster and study it for $12.95,” said Burchett.
His statement inspired a flurry of jokes and memes but left some people wondering exactly what he meant.
It seems Burchett may be referring to the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery project. The portion of the spending bill allocates a $65 million grant for “projects necessary for the conservation of salmon and steelhead populations that are listed as endangered.” The funds will be dispersed between Pacific states including Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada and California.
According to a report by Ocean's Deeply, some types of salmon along the coast are disappearing, and the population that remains is becoming significantly smaller
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association says, “Pacific salmon and steelhead are much more than essential elements of a healthy Pacific Coast ecosystem; they are cultural icons woven into the fabric of local communities and economies. Salmon runs tie the region's people to the landscape, but pressures from a changing environment and human activities have compromised the strength of these runs. The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) was established by Congress in 2000 to reverse the declines of Pacific salmon and steelhead, supporting conservation efforts in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska. The program is essential to preventing the extinction of the 28 listed salmon and steelhead species on the West Coast and, in many cases, has stabilized the populations and contributed to their recovery course.”
NOAA calls their efforts so far, a success, touting the jobs the project creates and the changes in salmon habitat conditions and availability. “As of October 2017, access to nearly 1.1 million acres of spawning and rearing habitat has been restored and protected for salmon, and access to over 10,550 miles of previously inaccessible streams has been re-established.”
Volunteer opportunities are available for those interested in helping with conservation efforts on NOAA’s website.