CORVALLIS - The federal $822 billion omnibus spending bill for the 2005 fiscal year that was adopted by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives this week has important implications for Oregon research, outreach and education.

Included in the appropriations are millions of dollars for ongoing Oregon State University projects, as well as funding for a new initiative targeted for OSU. University President Ed Ray said the appropriations are particularly encouraging because domestic spending in FY 2005 was limited.

"The reason Oregon fared so well is directly attributable to the work of our federal delegation," Ray said. "Sen. Gordon Smith and Rep. Greg Walden were instrumental in helping secure start-up funding for a critical watershed study, Sen. Ron Wyden was vital to the success of many of the special research grants funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Rep. Darlene Hooley played a key role in increasing the funding for food and nutrition education programs coordinated by the OSU Extension Service, as well as providing strong support for other grants from the USDA.

"These are programs that are important to the people of Oregon," Ray said.

Ray said he was particularly pleased that Oregon's Congressional delegation was able to help maintain level funding for student aid programs.

"Access is a critical issue for Oregon State University students, and federally funded aid programs are absolutely vital to our success," Ray pointed out.

Ray also praised the work of the entire delegation, including Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and David Wu, for the $5 million in federal support for the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) - part of the Defense budget passed by Congress earlier this year.

OSU officials say Wyden and Smith helped revive several projects that were originally scheduled to have their funding cut in 2005 - many of which involved OSU faculty and staff. They include research on federal grazing lands in Burns, viticulture research in Corvallis, a study of shellfish genetics at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, support for the Northwest Small Fruits Research Program in Corvallis, and hops research based on campus.

Among the appropriations within the Department of Interior budget is $500,000 for a new watershed study project at the Hinkle Creek drainage in the Umpqua River system east of Sutherlin.

This pilot study will give researchers critical information on managing forested headwater areas using contemporary forest management practices, according to Hal Salwasser, dean of the OSU College of Forestry.

"This new funding gives us the opportunity to evaluate the cumulative effects of forest management at the watershed scale," Salwasser said. "Most available literature on the environmental impacts of roads and harvesting in such watersheds comes from older studies that reflect historic road construction, harvesting and stream protection practices. These practices have changed substantially in the last several years.

"The information generated from this new study will be invaluable as an aid in policy-making decisions regulating forest management," he added.

Salwasser said the Hinkle Creek site has been a source for outreach education - drawing school children, scientists, government officials and the public - and those activities will grow with the new funding.

A number of OSU projects were funded within the agricultural portion of the omnibus bill. These include:

  • $6.285 million for wood utilization research that is a cooperative project among nine states - Oregon, Mississippi, North Carolina, Minnesota, Maine, Michigan, Idaho, Tennessee and Alaska; 
  • $1.4 million for research on new potato varieties conducted by many states, including Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Maine, Michigan and others;
  • $688,000 for a barley gene mapping project;
  • $645,000 for Solutions to Environmental and Economic Problems (STEEP) III project, conducted in Oregon, Washington and Idaho;
  • $454,000 for research on grass seed cropping systems for sustainable agriculture in Oregon, Washington and Idaho;
  • $425,000 for research on small fruit varieties associated with the Small Fruit Center for the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho;
  • $356,000 for multi-commodity agricultural marketing research to be directed by OSU at the Food Innovation Center in Portland;
  • $351,000 for research at the National Laboratory for Molluscan Broodstock at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport;
  • $262,000 for the university's meadowfoam research project.

Thayne Dutson, dean of OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences, said the federal appropriations not only leverage other public and private support, they provide an enormous boost to the global competitiveness of Oregon commodity groups.

"The value of these research funds to the food and agricultural industry in Oregon cannot be overstated," Dutson said. "The same goes for the wood products and forest industries. These projects help keep Oregon viable in the global market - one step ahead of the competition - and they help us meet environmental regulations."

Liz LaPolt, OSU associate director for federal relations, said the university also would benefit from increased funding for the National Research Initiative - up $16 million nationally to a total of $181 million - and the expansion of the Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program, up $6 million to a total of more than $58.9 million.

"Darlene Hooley took a keen interest in EFNEP and very much supported the increase in funding," LaPolt said. "Oregon has developed a reputation as a state in which hunger is a problem and delivering effective outreach and education programs - in part through OSU Extension - is important in turning that situation around."