LOS ANGELES – Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor announced details of President Joe Biden’s fiscal year 2023 Army civil works budget and took an aerial tour of several projects during a March 28-29 visit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.
Connor, along with Maj. Gen. William “Butch” Graham, the Corps’ deputy commanding general for Civil and Emergency Operations, kicked off the visit with a virtual press conference conducted jointly at the Port of Long Beach in California and with other Corps and ASA officials at the Port of Baltimore, Maryland.
Details about the Army Civil Works FY 2023 budget come on the heels of a Jan. 19 announcement from the Army that included a list of civil works studies, projects and programs the Corps of Engineers will implement nationwide in fiscal 2022 with $22.81 billion in supplemental funding provided in two recently enacted laws — the IIJA and the 2022 Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
The new Army Civil Works Program budget itself “continues to focus on investments that yield high economic and environmental returns, while building resilience to climate change, promoting environmental justice and increasing opportunities to work with disadvantaged communities,” Connor said.
Addressing the president’s FY23 Army Civil Works Program budget, Connor and Graham hosted their portion of the joint press conference from the Long Beach Container Terminal at the Port of Long Beach.
“We believe in smart investments that improve the durability of our water-management resources and moving to a more sustainable posture for our water resources all across America,” Connor said. “This is a matter of increasing urgency, given the water resource challenges facing many communities.”
On site at the Port of Baltimore, Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, the Corps’ commanding general, joined Jaime Pinkham, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works; Stacey Brown, deputy assistant secretary of the Army (management and budget) in the Office of the ASA (Civil Works), and Wesley Coleman, acting chief of the Corps’ Civil Works Programs Integration Division.
Spellmon said it was his goal to host the press conference at locations “where we see the administration’s and the secretary’s priorities coming together” with investments made to upgrade waterways; protect communities and ecosystems; better serve disadvantaged communities, with a focus on science, research and development; and strengthen relationships and partnerships.
Following the press conference, Connor and Graham boarded a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter with other senior leaders from the LA District for a 360-degree, bird’s eye view of a number of the District’s projects, including Prado Dam, Santa Ana River Mainstem, Whittier Narrows Dam, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, various portions of the LA River, East San Pedro Bay and Newport Beach Harbor.
During the second day of their tour, Connor and Graham met with City of Los Angeles officials at the Taylor Yard Bridge – giving them a prime spot to discuss the LA River Ecosystem Restoration Project – which focuses on restoring 11 miles of the river, from Griffith Park to downtown Los Angeles, while maintaining existing levels of flood-risk management.
The restoration project, which received $28 million in funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, aims to create and re-establish historic riparian and freshwater marsh to the area that will support wildlife and enhance habitat, as well as provide opportunities for regional connectivity to ecological zones, such as the Santa Monica Mountains, Verdugo Hills, Elysian Hills and the San Gabriel Mountains.
Restoration also includes reducing ecological and fluvial processes through a more natural hydrologic regime that will reconnect the river to historic floodplains and tributaries, with the hopes of reducing flow velocities, increasing infiltration and improving natural sediment processes.
“This is a fantastic team here in LA and great partners with the city and the county, and I’m really proud to be part of this,” Graham said. “We’re working on getting the maximum amount of benefit for the people here that we can possibly get. Flood control has to work, but if we can also help restore some of the environment, then that’s a win-win.”
For more information on the president’s fiscal 2023 budget, visit www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget. The FY 2023 Civil Works budget press book is also available at www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Budget.aspx, under the heading Program Budget: Press Books.