Dauphin Island Times

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Bill allocates funds for Dauphin Island Beach purchases

Under a spending bill passed Thursday by the Senate Appropriations Committee approximately $2.5million would be appropriated for public beach and wildlife habitat purchases on Dauphin Island out of the next federal budget.

The bill was created by Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. Senator Shelby heads the subcommittee that crafted the spending bill.

Why is this happening, you ask? Because Shelby knows Dauphin Island needs these things for its continued growth as a socio-economic entity. Because Dauphin Island officials don't have the resources to do this themselves. And because he's in a position to allocate a small portion of pork for the good people who sent him to Washington.

This isn't all that's in the bill to benefit Dauphin Island. The bill also includes $3million for a Gulf of Mexico education and outreach program which would be headed by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. The bill has a long way to go before the funds are actually set aside and put into action. It needs approval from the full senate and then the house of representatives. It won't be until fall at least until more is known about it's fate, but it's reassuring to know there is a possibility of help for Dauphin Island from yet another source.

The legislation still needs approval from the full Senate, as well as the House. Its final fate will probably not be settled until sometime this fall.

In a tight budget climate, Shelby was recently forced to drop hundreds of millions of dollars in so-called "pork" spending during House/Senate negotiations over a separate emergency appropriations bill.

Shelby may have better luck with this measure, said David Williams, vice president for policy at Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group. During the normal budget cycle, Williams said, lawmakers tend "to give everybody a little bit of something."

The Senate measure also includes $2.5 million for Mobile County to buy land on Dauphin Island. The intent is to preserve undeveloped land that could also provide limited public beach access and wildlife habitat on the barrier island, said Bill Melton, the Mobile County Commission's environmental director.

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Among other earmarked appropriations, the bill furnishes:

$3 million for a Gulf of Mexico education and outreach program headed by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

$2.5 million for a Mobile Bay fisheries initiative involving the University of South Alabama.

$350,000 to add classrooms and a theater to the battleship USS Alabama.

$8 million for the "Wild American" shrimp marketing campaign.

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