Congresswoman Lois Capps succeeded last month in obtaining $6.1 million in federal funding for several projects in Santa Barbara County.

“This is a great example of federal dollars coming back to work right here on the Central Coast, and I am confident these projects will improve the quality of life in our community,” Capps said in a February press release.

The funding is part of the Fiscal Year 2003 Appropriations bill, which the House of Representatives passed Feb. 13.

As part of this omnibus bill, “members of Congress had the opportunity to request funding for different projects that are usually proposed in separate bills,” Capps spokeswoman Brigid O’Brien said. The three projects receiving the majority of these federal funds are the Channel Islands National Park, Santa Barbara Harbor Commission and Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District.

The Channel Islands National Park received $2.1 million that will primarily go toward conservation projects such as the removal of feral pigs – which disrupt the native island ecosystem and Chumash archeological sites. Introduced to the islands by Spanish-American settlers in the 1800s, the pigs attract predators such as the golden eagle, which threaten the native endangered island fox.

The park is currently discussing three potential plans for the removal of the pigs. The recently acquired federal funds will also go toward visitor services which include public education and orientation services, search and rescue operations, campground and trail management, and facility operations and maintenance.

“Lois Capps certainly supports her constituents in the form of federal funding,” said John Bridley, the Santa Barbara Harbor Commission Waterfront director.

In order to maintain a navigable channel for the local Coast Guard and commercial fishing industry, 600,000 cubic yards of sand must be removed from the Santa Barbara Harbor every year. This process is performed by a dredge, which removes the sand from the sea bottom through a hose and pumps it onto the beach. The SBHC received $1.8 million to fund the commission of Nova Dredging, LLC to dredge the harbor. The SBHC made arrangements in 1998 for federal assistance in the purchase of a dredge, however Stern’s Wharf burned down that same year and its reconstruction exhausted city and SBHC funds. The commission still hopes to eventually build its own dredge, which would cost approximately $6 million.

The MTD received $750,000 for the acquisition of hybrid electric buses that would replace diesel buses on heavily used town routes where their efficiency would be maximized, MTD Controller Jerry Estrada said.

There are roughly 25 actively running hybrid electric buses in the United States, 10 of which operate in New York City.”