by Matt Evans, MUCC Legislative Manager
Monday, February 2nd saw President Obama release his executive budget recommendation and for the second year in a row he is recommending a cut to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The President is recommending $250 million for the program which is a cut of $50 million, down from $300 million appropriated for this year.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative or GLRI as it’s come to be known as was originally launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Since that time over $1.9 billion has been spent on the following four areas of focus in the Great Lakes Region
- Clean up Great Lakes areas of concern;
- Prevent and control invasive species such as Asian Carp and Sea Lamprey;
- Restore fish and wildlife habitat to protect native species, and;
- Reduce nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful and nuisance algal blooms.
@MUCC1937 – Lighthouse at St. Ignace
In fact, in 2011 the first GLRI project was started here in Michigan. The Shiawassee Flats Wetland Restoration was a joint initiative that saw the restoration of a 141-acre agricultural field adjacent to the Flint River back to its historic wetland habitat. This project and 2,000 similar projects from across the Great Lakes Region would not have been possible without GLRI funding.
Despite the incredible success of the program and the bi-partisan support it receives in Congress we need to fight to keep the spending at its current level of $300 million. Last year’s initial GLRI funding proposal for FY 2015 was for $25 million less than the previous year’s funding level. But, due to a number of Great Lakes advocates in Washington and 27 Representatives who signed onto a letter supporting the increased funding, including 6 from Michigan (Reps. Dingell, Levin, Peters, Conyers, Kildee & Benishek), the full $300 million for the initiative was restored.
healthylakes.org/ Healing Our Waters Initiative
MUCC and a coalition of organizations from across the Great Lakes are back once again, asking that Congress fully support the GLRI at $300 million and efforts are already under way in DC. Representative David Joyce (R-Ohio) has already introduced legislation that would authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for five years, at $300 million annually. The following Representatives from Michigan have signed onto the bill: Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), and Candice Miller (R-Mich.).
If you see your Representative listed here be sure to call and thank them for supporting the Great Lakes. If you don’t see your legislator listed, please call them and ask them to support the Great Lakes by fully funding the GLRI at $300 million. If you’re not sure who your Representative is or if you need their contact info click here.
For more information on Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects you can visit the GLRI website here or visit the Healing Our Waters website here.