MURPHY, BLUMENTHAL URGE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE TO RESTORE FUNDING FOR CT WILDLIFE REFUGE

Full text of the letter:

Dear Chairwoman Mikulski and Vice Chairman Cochran,

We write to thank you for your strong commitment to passage of the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief appropriations package, and to urge your support for Connecticut disaster reconstruction funding that was deleted during House consideration.

While considering the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act on January 15th, the House approved an amendment to strip $9.8 million in funding to repair storm-damaged physical infrastructure in Connecticut’s Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. This partisan amendment singled out the McKinney Refuge alone for funding cuts, alleging that repair costs had not yet been well-documented. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife has detailed the significant damage to the Refuge’s islands and the corresponding construction needs, including seawall repair, endangered species habitat restoration, debris removal, and boat basin reconstruction. The Refuge is comprised of 10 units and 7 islands stretched across 70 miles, providing public access and recreation, critical habitat for federal and state listed species, and research and education.

Our state sustained an estimated $660 million in storm damage during Hurricane Sandy, with the worst impacts felt along the shoreline – where the McKinney Refuge lies. Some 25,000 Americans visit the McKinney Refuge on annual basis and, without these reconstruction funds, public access to many of the Refuge facilities will either be severely curtailed or cease altogether.

We appreciate the concerted effort made by your committee to ensure swift passage of a disaster aid package for our state, and we look forward to supporting its overall enactment.  The funding that is included in the bill is critical to Connecticut as our communities continue to recover from the storm’s devastating impact, both in remedying immediate damage and better preparing for future disasters.  However, we hope to work with you and your staffs to restore the important and much-needed funding for the McKinney Refuge as well.

Sincerely,

Richard Blumenthal                                                       Christopher S. Murphy

United States Senator                                                   United States Senator