Archived entries for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

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.

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.”

The Importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Recently the Green Bay Press Gazette, among various other major media outlets around the Great Lakes region, published editorials prompted by the Healing Our Waters Coalition. As a member of the Coalition and supporter of funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, we at GWC thought you’d take interest in reading more about the importance of this funding to our drinking water, clean air, and jobs in the Midwest. We’ve pasted an excerpt from the Green Bay Press Gazette’s article below.

Editorial: Restore $300 million in funding for Great Lakes

Baird Creek

Baird Creek, which feeds into Lake Michigan via the Fox River in Green Bay, is protected through the efforts of our member land trust, the Baird Creek Preservation Foundation.

Starting Monday, Congress will begin discussing how to allocate $1.012 trillion in discretionary spending for fiscal year 2014.

It’s part of the congressional budget that passed Dec. 18 and increases discretionary spending from $986 billion in 2013 to $1.012 trillion for this fiscal year and $1.014 trillion next. Congress has until Jan. 15 to decide how to spend that money.

We have many suggestions for them, but for now we’ll confine it to one: Fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $300 million.

The initiative aims to protect and restore the Great Lakes. More than $1.3 billion has been invested, so far, to clean up toxic pollution, reduce runoff from farms, restore habitat and fight invasive species.

Locally, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has also resulted in $1.5 million in funding for Brown County for the Cat Island Restoration Project and $2 million for the Renard Isle capping.

However, funding was cut — from $300 million to $285 million — in fiscal year 2013 and it would be reduced further, to $210 million, under current proposals.

The increase in discretionary spending in the next two years gives Congress the chance to fully fund the restoration efforts.

It has bipartisan support from members of the House and Senate in the eight Great Lakes states. They’ve sent letters to an appropriations subcommittee as well as the Corps of Engineers urging the restoration of the $300 million in funding and increased efforts to halt the advance of the Asian carp.

They can see a direct impact from the protection and restoration of this fresh water. For example, lakes Michigan and Superior supply 1.6 million Wisconsin residents with drinking water, provide 170,000 jobs and fishing for 250,000 people a year, according to Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. Across eight states, the impact is drinking water for 30 million people and 1.5 million jobs.

Outside of the Great Lakes states, protection and restoration of this natural resource is very important. The Great Lakes account for 84 percent of North America’s surface fresh water and 21 percent of the world’s. If we don’t take steps to protect it now, the problems will only get worse and the price tag will only increase.

We urge state residents to call their representatives in Congress and tell them to lobby for extra funding.

Highlighting Great Lakes Restoration and Protection Efforts by Wisconsin Land Trusts

In early August, we had two exciting opportunities to highlight the important work that Wisconsin land trusts are doing for Great Lakes restoration and protection in both the Lake Superior and Lake Michigan basins.

On August 6, GWC Government Relations Director, Mike Carlson, joined GWC Board members, Tia Nelson and Ellen Kwiatkowski, for a tour of the Frog Bay Tribal National Park with Congressman Sean Duffy.  The Frog Bay project, which protects over a ¼ mile of Lake Superior shoreline, involved a partnership between the Bayfield Regional Conservancy and the Red Cliff Tribe and utilized federal funding through the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP).  Congressman Duffy has demonstrated leadership by assuming the role as Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Task Force with the Northeast-Midwest Institute, and this tour provided an important opportunity to show the value of programs like CELCP and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), as well as the important role that land trusts can play in permanently protecting critical parcels along the Great Lakes.

It was a beautiful day on the shore of Lake Superior overlooking the Apostle Islands!

GWC board members Tia Nelson and Ellen Kwiatkowski tour Frog Bay Tribal National Park with Congressman Duffy and Chad Abel with the Red Cliff Tribe.

On August 10, we hosted the Great Lakes Restoration Tour:  Milwaukee Area Successes.  This tour was organized in partnership with the Healing our Waters Coalition (HOW), the River Revitalization Foundation (RRF), the Urban Ecology Center (UEC), and Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) and emphasized significant conservation sites in southeast Wisconsin.  These sites highlighted progress, as well as ongoing needs and opportunities, in Great Lakes protection and restoration. The Milwaukee sites included the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum, which is a GLRI restoration project adjacent to the UEC and Riverside Park, and RRF’s Wheelhouse parcel, which is a restoration of a blighted site in the Milwaukee River Area of Concern into a riverfront park. Both sites sit along the Milwaukee River and are part of the 800 acre Milwaukee River Greenway.  During the morning we heard from representatives from HOW, Rotary Club of Milwaukee, the Southeast Wisconsin Watersheds Trust, UEC, RRF, and the Conservation Fund.

Tour participants stand on the bank of the Milwaukee River and hear about the surrounding restoration work spearheaded by the Urban Ecology Center.

Just a mile down the River, and mile from where the River flows into Lake Michigan, tour participants visit the River Revitalization Foundation’s Wheelhouse property and hear about their restoration efforts and work to grant public access to the River.

In the afternoon, we visited the OWLT’s Forest Beach Migratory Preserve — a unique 116-acre site that was previously used as a golf course. The land trust is transforming the property into a major migratory bird stopover site and using GLRI funding to research bird and bat migratory patterns to determine the importance of stopover habitat along the Lake Michigan Migratory Flyway.  During the afternoon session, we heard from representatives from OWLT, the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, and Ozaukee County.

Bill Mueller of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory speak to tour participants at Ozaukee Washington Land Trust’s Forest Beach Migratory Preserve.

Tour participants enjoy a hike through the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve.

Tour attendees included community leaders from the Milwaukee and Ozaukee area; government officials from WI DNR and the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program; the Policy Director for the Healing Our Waters Coalition, Chad Lord; and many others.  In total, more than 60 people joined us for the day.  We were thrilled that Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele agreed to participate in the tour and provide remarks, as they have both been long-time supporters of Great Lakes restoration.  Unfortunately, at the last minute, they both needed to attend the memorial service for the victims of the tragic Oak Creek shooting.  We missed them at the event, but appreciate their commitment to Great Lakes issues.

It was a great day, and we lucked out with near perfect weather!

Restoring the Great Lakes: Forest Beach Migratory Preserve

This post is the third in a series that details the innovative Wisconsin conservation projects that are having a positive impact on Great Lakes water quality and that will be featured on our August 10th Great Lakes Restoration Tour.  The tour is open to the public.  For full event details and to register please visit our website

Before Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT) purchased the Squires’ property in 2009 with the support of Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, the 116-acre-site in Ozaukee County had been used as a golf course. Renamed the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, the site is valuable due to its size and its proximity to Lake Michigan. Part of the property is on the Lake Michigan shore with the majority of the site located just 600 ft inland comprising one of the largest tracts of nearshore open land in Ozaukee County.

 

The property boasts a 5-acre hardwood forest with seasonal ponds, open grassland and prairie, a partially wooded ravine, and 5 constructed wetland ponds. Due to the property’s location and these characteristics, it is an important area for migratory birds along the Lake Michigan Flyway.  

Since the acquisition of the property, OWLT and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, with the support of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other sources, have done a tremendous amount of work to restore wetlands and native plant communities. These changes will help to provide diverse habitats to a wide variety of migratory birds. These habitats will be the temporary stopping points for around 80 rare or declining bird species at some point in their lifecycle.

 Photos courtesy of Ozaukee Washington Land Trust

Please make plans to join us for the Great Lakes Restoration Tour on August 10th and visit this, and other significant Milwaukee-area sites, that are enhancing Great Lakes restoration efforts.



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