Archived entries for Great Lakes Protection

State and Federal Land Conservation Programs are at Risk

If ever there was a time for Wisconsin’s land trusts and the conservation community to work together with a common purpose, this is it. Many of our top priorities at the state and federal levelsWisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and public land ownership—face grave threats, and we need your support and involvement.

State Threats

Lands purchased through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program help protect Wisconsin’s air and water quality, and provide outdoor places that are close to home, where folks go to find peace, recreate, and reap the health benefits associated with such areas. Assembly Bill 338 seeks to reallocate most of that funding to create scholarships for students and purchase low-value lands currently owned by the state.

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program helps keep pace with an ever-growing need for public access to undeveloped, natural greenspaces throughout the state–like the one pictured here. Photo by Amy Singh

Federal Threats

The President’s 2018 budget proposal threatens to completely eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which provides critical funds that clean up and reduce pollution, prevent invasive species from ruining our waters, and keep our Great Lakes healthy.

The federal budget proposal also includes severe cuts to the Land & Water Conservation Fund, a program that creates and protects national parks, areas around rivers and lakes, national forests, and national wildlife refuges from development. It also provides matching grants to states for their local parks and recreation projects.

These federal programs protect our nation’s most valuable assets: clean water, air, and the kind of natural landscapes that are so important for our physical and mental well being. Photo by Mindy Petersen.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Urge Wisconsin legislators to oppose this bill.

Let your state senators and house member know why you care about these important federal programs.

Looking for additional ways to help? Here are 7 ways to help protect your public lands and waters.

Trump Budget Eliminates Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Leaving Fate of Lakes in Hands of U.S. Congress

The following statement was released today by The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 16, 2017)—The Trump Administration’s budget released today eliminates the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a popular program responsible for cleaning up toxic pollution, restoring wildlife habitat, controlling invasive species and reducing runoff from cities and farms. The cuts are part of the administration’s efforts to gut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by $2.6 billion, almost one-third of the budget for the agency responsible for ensuring every American has clean, safe drinking water. During the presidential campaign, representatives of Trump pledged to support federal Great Lakes restoration investments.

Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:

“For the 30 million people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, health, jobs, and way of life, the Trump Administration budget is a total non-starter. The Trump Administration’s budget makes it abundantly clear that real leadership to benefit the people of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois will have to come from Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress, who have worked together over the last seven years to invest in Great Lakes restoration projects that are producing results for the environment and economy in local communities across the region. We look forward to working with Congress to restore funding to these important programs to ensure that Great Lakes restoration remains a top national priority.”

Read the White House budget at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf

EPA and Great Lakes restoration cuts can be found on page 41-42

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. For more information visit http://www.healthylakes.org Follow us on twitter @healthylakes.

Help Protect the Great Lakes

The original version of this article was updated on 3/16/17 in response to the release of the Trump Administration’s preliminary federal budget (EPA and Great Lakes restoration cuts can be found on page 41-42.)

The Great Lakes–which provide drinking water for nearly 40 million people, including more than a million Wisconsinites–are at risk. Gathering Waters staff is in D.C. this week for Great Lakes Day with more than 100 advocates from the region to let members of Congress know how vital and valuable the Great Lakes are to our state’s economy and quality of life.

Executive Director, Mike Carlson and Government Relations Director, Chris Danou were in Senator Baldwin’s office on the morning the draft budget was released.

Read on for more information about:

  • The potential for a complete loss of all federal funding for Great Lakes protection and restoration;
  • How you can help protect the Great Lakes;
  • Wisconsin land trusts and the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a critical federal program for cleaning up toxic pollution, reducing polluted runoff, controlling invasive species and restoring habitat. Cuts to this funding would be devastating.

Bi-partisan Great Lakes Programs at Risk

The Trump Administration’s preliminary budget eviscerates funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)–a critical federal program for cleaning up toxic pollution, reducing polluted runoff, controlling invasive species and restoring habitat. The loss of the $300 million annual funding would devastate Great Lakes restoration efforts. The GLRI has enjoyed strong bi-partisan support in Congress, and we’re looking to Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation for leadership in defending critical Great Lakes funding and programs.

Read a statement from the Healing Our Waters Coalition to find out more about the immediate threat to one of Wisconsin’s most valuable assets.

 

You can help by contacting legislators and making a donation.

YOU Can Help

As part of the HOW Coalition’s annual fly-in to Washington DC, more than 100 Great Lakes advocates, including Gathering Waters staff, are meeting with members of Congress this week to talk about successful restoration efforts and the need for continued investment in the region. Can’t join us in DC? No problem–you can make a difference from home. Call your federal representatives today and ask them to protect critical Great Lakes funding and programs.

Find contact information for Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators and your U.S. House member, or simply text your zip code to 520-200-2223. You’ll get a text back immediately with everything you need.

Also, consider a donation to Gathering Waters today to increase your impact.

More than a dozen Wisconsin land trusts help protect the Great Lakes in the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior basins through land protection and management.

Wisconsin Land Trusts and the Great Lakes

More than a dozen Wisconsin land trusts help protect the Great Lakes in the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior basins through land protection and management. These protected lands–such as the Frog Bay Tribal National Park–also provide access to the Lakes for all of us–for all kinds of recreation and enjoyment, forever.

Cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would be devastating to these efforts in the region.

Trump Administration Proposed Cuts to Great Lakes Programs, EPA Unacceptable

The following is a statement from the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition (HOW Coalition), which consists of more than 145 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Gathering Waters is a proud part of the HOW Coalition.

Republicans, Democrats in Congress are key to protecting Great Lakes, clean water programs

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (March 9, 2017)—The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition today expressed deep concern with the rumored Trump Administration’s budget cuts that would gut core Great Lakes programs, roll back Clean Water Act protections, and delay federal action to respond to serious threats like the invasive Asian carp. Absent a change in course from the Trump Administration, the Coalition is looking to work with the U.S. Congress to keep federal restoration efforts on track.

“The administration’s actions over the last few weeks threaten to stop federal Great Lakes restoration efforts in their tracks and undermine gains we’ve made,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We strongly urge the White House to reverse course and put forward a strong Great Lakes budget that is in the best interest of the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, job, and way of life.”

Preliminary Trump Administration budget numbers leaked last week would eviscerate funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – the popular and successful federal program to clean up toxic pollution, reduce runoff, control invasive species and restore habitat – from $300 million to $10 million, a 97 percent cut. This cut comes, even though President Trump’s campaign pledged to support Great Lakes restoration investments in September 2016. In addition to cuts to Great Lakes programs, the budget also contained drastic cuts to other critical programs and even the elimination of programs such as the EPA’s environmental justice office.

The preliminary budget was the latest in series of actions that could undermine Great Lakes restoration efforts. Over the last three weeks the Trump Administration has:

  • Proposed slashing funding for core Great Lakes programs by 97 percent;
  • Recommended cutting the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 25 percent;
  • Indefinitely postponed the release of a study needed to bolster defenses against invasive Asian carp; and,
  • Issued an executive order asking federal agencies to review the Clean Water Rule to determine whether to revise or rescind it.

“These actions have real impacts on local communities,” said Joy Mulinex, co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition and director of government relations, Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “Federal investments are producing results, but serious threats remain. Cutting successful programs will not save the federal government one penny, because projects will only get more difficult and expensive the longer we wait.

President Trump is scheduled to release the final proposed budget the week of March 13. That week, as part of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition’s annual fly-in to Washington, D.C., more than 100 Great Lakes advocates will be meeting with members of Congress to talk about successful restoration efforts. Over the past three years, Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress have beaten back attempts to cut Great Lakes programs.

“Congress controls the purse strings, and we have been fortunate to have strong Great Lakes champions on both sides of the aisle,” said Chad Lord, policy director, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Now, more than ever, it will be important for Great Lakes senators and representatives to support Great Lakes restoration and protection efforts and defend the policies and agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency that are the foundation for clean water. Every single person in the United States deserves access to affordable, clean, safe drinking water, beaches that are safe to swim in and fish that are safe to eat.”

Learn more about the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition at www.healthylakes.org or follow us on Twitter @healthylakes.

Conserving Water, Benefitting Birds and Business

For many years, Dr. Noel Cutright envisioned the creation of a bird observatory along Lake Michigan. As a renowned birder and ornithologist, he knew that the western shore was a significant stopover point for birds on their migratory journeys, being part of a major flyway stretching from South America to Alaska. So when a golf course in the town of Belgium went on the market, he saw an opportunity.

photo by Kate Redmond

This is a dream-come-true for the late Dr. Cutright and for over 200 species of migratory birds. It’s good for the economy, water conservation and is truly a special place for all to enjoy. Photo by Kate Redmond

Dr. Cutright encouraged the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) to buy the golf course property, which included frontage on the Lake Michigan shoreline, and transform it into a migratory bird preserve. Skeptical about siting a nature preserve on such a manicured landscape, OWLT did their research while experts devised a plan to create several habitat types favorable to migrating birds. Ultimately, they were convinced of the ecological significance of the land and the viability of Dr. Cutright’s vision and began fundraising for the project.

OWLT secured funding for half of the purchase price through the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Program, making this incredible undertaking possible. Then, collaborating with local birding groups, many local contractors, and people at every level of government, ten years of land restoration was accomplished in only eighteen months of intensive work.

photo by Ken Tapp

One of Dr. Cutright’s favorite quotes was this one by Rachel Carson: “There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of birds. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.” Photo by Ken Tapp

Today, this special place is known as the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve. In addition to providing 150 acres of safe cover for birds to rest and feed, it offers a trail system that winds through the property, and is home to the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, another of Dr. Cutright’s visions. It also uses 10-20 million fewer gallons of water per year than its predecessor. The nearby town of Belgium was planning to dig a new well and build a water tower to meet municipal demand, but since the Preserve was created, the town found it no longer needed more water production.

A printable version of this story and others are available on our website. Feel free to share with legislators and media outlets to help save the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program!

Great Lakes Victory

Last Monday, January 13, the US Congress released its 2014 spending bill. It was a victory for the Great Lakes, as the bill restores funding to two essential Great Lakes programs. It provides $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and $1.44 billion for The Clean Water State Revolving Fund, for fiscal year 2014.

As a partner of the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition (HOW), we work hard to ensure that local, state and federal officials continue to make Great Lakes restoration a priority. So, this was a victory for us as well!

Fun kayaking in Lake Superior. Photo credit: Natalie Lucier

Fun kayaking in Lake Superior. Photo credit: Natalie Lucier

Why do we care? Because the importance of the Great Lakes cannot be over emphasized. As the HOW website points out, the Great Lakes provide drinking water to more than 30 million people. More than 1.5 million U.S. jobs are directly connected to the Great Lakes, generating $62 billion in wages annually. Every $1 investment in Great Lakes restoration generates at least $2 of economic benefit.

Kids playing along the shore of Lake Michigan. Photo credit: Rachel Kramer

Kids playing along the shore of Lake Michigan. Photo credit: Rachel Kramer

How does this renewed funding help? The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative supports efforts to clean up toxic pollution, restore fish and wildlife habitat, fight invasive species, and reduce runoff from cities and farms. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provides low-interest loans to communities across the nation to fund water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, nonpoint source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management.

The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are important to us all.

As Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, puts it:

“This budget represents a significant victory for the millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and quality of life. This investment will help support programs that are delivering results in communities across the region.”



Gathering Waters • 211 S. Paterson St. Suite 270 • Madison, WI 53703 • PH 608-251-9131 • FX 608-663-5971 • info@gatheringwaters.org