Gluesenkamp Perez Urges House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to Support Southwest Washington Priorities

Jan 11, 2024
Press
Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez holds up a 40-year-old Port of Skamania request for a land conveyance during her testimony supporting local priorities in the 2024 Water Resources Development Act.

Today, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) testified in front of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to underscore Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) priorities for Southwest Washington.

In her testimony, Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez highlighted the Port of Skamania’s request for a land conveyance that would support economic development, as well as Wahkiakum County’s need for assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address dangerous flooding in Rosburg and Grays River.

The Water Resources Development Act is a biannual bill required for the authorization of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation projects, including to improve navigable channels, reduce flood and storm damage, and restore aquatic ecosystems.

Video of Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez’s testimony can be found here, and the following are her full remarks:

“Thank you, Chairman Rouzer and thank you Ranking Member Larsen.

I have here a typewritten letter from 40 years ago, requesting conveyance of a parcel of land held by the Army Corps of Engineers in my home county of Skamania County. 

My county is over a million acres of land. Less than one half of one percent of that is commercially developable. So, this 1.6 acre lot may seem very small to the committee and small potatoes, but where I live, this is the kind of thing that can make an incredible difference in empowering my community to have real economic opportunity to develop and support themselves.

It’s a result of federal, state, and land trust ownership that we are so reduced, and so I ask this body to be different than the 40 preceding it. 

This letter was written before I was born – two-and-a-half years before I was born – so this has been a long time in the making, and I ask for your urgency in considering this. The Port of Skamania requested this, and we’ve been in agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers, and so I appreciate any urgency we can bring to this.

Secondly, I’d like to bring up Wahkiakum County, also an economically disadvantaged area in my district, located on the Columbia River.

It’s requesting support from the Army Corps for a study to address flooding problems in Rosburg and Grays River. The area regularly experiences flooding. As a result, fine sediment accumulates at the confluence of the rivers of Grays and Columbia and over the past 30 years, the floods have only gotten worse.

When flooding occurs on the Grays River, it cuts off access to approximately 500 people living in these rural communities, often for more than two days at a time. Within a matter of hours, the flooding limits vital emergency services, business operations, and school transportation and leaves behind sediment that can be dangerous and time consuming to remove.

That’s why I support the County’s request for the Army Corps to assess the causes of the fine sediment accumulation and help determine solutions to mitigate risks for addressing this.

These are just two important projects to my district, but they are just a snapshot of the provisions I look forward to supporting in this year’s WRDA.

My district is home to 15 ports that are critical economic drivers that are very dependent on the Army Corps and the work authorized in this legislation.

I’ve been told that I have more ports than any Member of Congress west of the Mississippi.

These are priorities that are supported by a broad range of stakeholders in my district and I look forward to working with this committee to get them over the finish line. Thank you.

And I also request to submit this historic piece of evidence for the longevity of this request to the committee.”

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