In yet another of several recent examples of the non-partisan appeal of the restoration economy (do a keyword search of “bipartisan” here in REVITALIZATION to see others), U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) announced on August 22, 2019 their bipartisan legislation to renew and expand funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a proven success and effective in preserving our Great Lakes,” explained Senator Peters. “We must build on existing efforts by passing this bipartisan legislation to extend and increase funding for this vital initiative, which helps restore habitats, combat invasive species as well as clean and prevent pollution.”
The Senators were joined by Marie McCormick, Executive Director of Friends of the Rouge, Anne Brasie, Executive Director of the Clinton River Watershed Council, and David Howell, Chairman of Friends of the Detroit River to highlight the importance of GLRI funding to this vast network of lakes and waterways.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 will reauthorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is set to expire at the end of Fiscal Year 2021, for another five years. The bill increases the current authorization level from $300 million to $375 million in Fiscal Year 2022 and increases funding by $25 million per year until it reaches $475 million in Fiscal Year 2026.
“Our Initiative has made a real difference across Michigan by funding hundreds of projects with proven results,” said Senator Stabenow, co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “Republicans and Democrats agree – the best way to tackle the challenges and threats to our water is to continue investing in the health of our Great Lakes and waterways.”
“We appreciate Senator Stabenow’s and Senator Peters’ leadership on renewing and expanding GLRI funding, which greatly impacts projects throughout the Rouge Watershed, which includes 48 communities in Southeast Michigan. We know firsthand how important it is to keep our waterways and lakes clean,” said McCormick. “Friends of the Rouge is committed to restoring and protecting the Rouge River watershed through stewardship, education, and collaboration.”
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is critical to cleaning up the Great Lakes, beaches, and waterways and fighting invasive species like Asian carp. Since 2010, the Initiative has provided nearly $7 million for six projects on Belle Isle. These projects include improving water quality in Lake Okonoka, restoring native fish populations in the Detroit River, and removing 200 tons of marine debris from the island.
“The Clinton River watershed is vital to the 1.4 million people touched by its waters. GLRI has had a great impact in helping us protect and restore this natural resource,” added Brasie. “We are grateful for Senator Stabenow’s and Senator Peters’ commitment to our waterways and ensuring they receive adequate funding.”
According to the Great Lakes Commission, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has funded over $156 million across 108 projects in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, and Monroe counties of Michigan. Statewide, 880 projects have received more than $762 million.
U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Vice Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, Tina Smith (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Todd Young (R-IN), Vice Chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, are also co-sponsors of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019.
Besides being bipartisan, this is also a bicameral effort. Congressman David Joyce (R-OH) and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) are authors of the House companion bill which is cosponsored by 40 Members, including 11 Michigan Representatives.
Photo of the 1905 lighthouse at Split Rock on Lake Superior in Michigan via Adobe Stock.