JUNE 23, 1998

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I would like to welcome Dr. Westphal to what I believe is his first appearance before the Congress in his recently confirmed position as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and his first appearance before this Committee.

Congratulations and I look forward to working with you.

Mr. Chairman, today's hearing on S.2131, the Administration's proposal for the Water Resources Development Act of 1998 (WRDA), gives us the opportunity to listen to both the Administration and our other witnesses discuss the policies and projects for the Corps of Engineers. This year's WRDA bill proposes a number of new initiatives, including the establishment of the Challenge 21 program, a Water Resources Foundation and an aquatic restoration program for the Missouri River.

There are also proposals for changing the cost share for shoreline protection and allocating additional recreational fees collected at Corps facilities.

I applaud the Administration for recognizing recreation in the Corps' mission and the need to keep our recreational facilities in shape. With the recreational facilities managed by the Corps being second only to our national forests as this country's most visited federal lands, and generating $10 for every $1 of investment, the Corps' contribution to recreation is extremely important. In my state of Montana, in eastern Montana, there is a Corps facility called Fort Peck. For the residents of eastern Montana, Fort Peck is the only recreational facility for hundreds of miles. It is estimated that 86% of the visits to Fort Peck are Montana residents. That can partially be attributed to the quality of the facility, a beautiful lake with world-class fishing combined with an opportunity to view the largest earthen dam in this country. But is also attributable to the vastness of my state and the limited recreational opportunities in eastern Montana. encourage you, Dr. Westphal, to come visit one of the Corps' crowning achievements.

I also look forward to hearing the views of the Administration and the representative from the American Association of Port Authorities on the future of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the ad valorem fee on exporters is unconstitutional, we need to put our heads together to come up with a solution to ensure the continued viability of our nation's ports.

I look forward to hearing from all of you this morning.