Working waterfronts bill introduced in Congress

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U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine last week introduced a bill to amend the Costal Zone Management Act of 1972 to establish a working waterfront grant program.

The bill is referred to as the "Keep America's Waterfronts Working Act of 2009."

"Water-dependent commercial activities are the economic and cultural heart of many coastal communities," according to the bill, which says these activities include recreational and commercial fishing, boatbuilding, aquaculture and other water-dependent businesses.

The purpose of the grant program is to preserve and protect costal areas for these activities and to maintain access to the water.

To qualify for a grant, a coastal state must submit and have approved a comprehensive working waterfront plan or be in the process of developing such a plan and have an established working waterfront program at the state or local level.

The bill calls for $25 million for fiscal 2010 for this plan, $50 million for fiscal 2011 and $75 million for fiscal 2012 and 2013.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

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