Archived entries for Great Lakes

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.

Baileys Harbor Range Lights Shine Once More

After going dark more than four decades ago, the iconic Upper and Lower Range Lights have a chance to shine again thanks to the perseverance of Ed Miller, a board member of The Ridges Sanctuary with a passion for these increasingly rare lighthouses.

When constructed in 1869, the Range Lights were considered the most effective way to keep ships off the treacherous reefs and shallows at the entrance to Baileys Harbor. From the water, a sailor got “on range” by vertically aligning the white light in the Upper Range Light with the Lower Range Light’s red beacon. Six similar range lights were built on the Great Lakes at the time, although today the Upper Range Light in Baileys Harbor is the only one of their style and class still standing in its original positions. The Lower Range Light was moved to a new foundation 15 feet from the original location in 2012 to place it at a safer distance from Ridges Road.

Maintained by The Ridges since 1937, the Range Lights guided ships to safe harbor for 100 years. In 1969, the lanterns were removed from both buildings and a directional light and day board were installed near the beach.

RangeLights_Evening

Photo courtesy of Jane Whitney

Until the recent  opening of The Ridges’ new nature center on Hwy 57, the Upper Range Light housed the organization’s business office.

“From the time we began planning to build a visitor facility, it was our intent to eventually restore the Upper Range Light and make it accessible to the public,” said Ridges Director Steve Leonard.

With the staff now officed in the Cook-Fuller Center, the first stage of the restoration is underway.  This spring, The Ridges retained preservation architect Laura Davis of Isthmus Architecture in Madison to prepare  a Historic Structures Report. When completed, the report will define the structural scope of the restoration and help to establish the expense of the project.

Miller was actively involved in the restoration of the Lower Range Light and now chairs The Ridges Lighthouse Committee. With the restoration of the Lower Range Light completed, Miller turned his attention to the relighting of the Lights in December of 2014.  He applied to the Coast Guard, working closely with Doug Sharp of the Cleveland Coast Guard Station, throughout the process. In late April, Miller received approval to “relight the ranges as private aids to navigation.”

Miller then worked with Tim Fey of the Coast Guard Station in Two Rivers to obtain a replacement red lens lantern for the Lower Range Light. Upon its installation, the Lights sprang to life on June 11, 2015 and will remain lit permanently. The Coast Guard has indicated that the Baileys Harbor directional light and day board on the tower across from the Lower Range Light on Ridges Road will be removed. At this time, it appears that the entrance lighted bell buoy will remain in place.

Both Range Lights are featured as part of guided hikes at The Ridges. A ceremony celebrating the relighting will be held later this summer.

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