Sen. Debbie Stabenow Visits Traverse City to Talk Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Legislation

Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow was in northern Michigan Thursday talking about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The senator is leading a push to reauthorize the initiative and even give it a funding boost.

It faced the threat of significant cuts from the Trump administration the last three years, but was eventually always fully funded in the federal budget.

The senator says more money is needed over the next several years with a growing number of environmental issues facing the great lakes.

The Boardman River in Grand Traverse County is one of the many Michigan waterways that’s benefited from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative or GLRI. Thursday, it was the backdrop for Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow’s latest push to boost funding for the initiative and to reauthorize it.

“It’s all about communities coming together to decide what should be done locally and then putting together the partners to be able to do it,” said Stabenow.

The senator is pushing for the passage of legislation that would reauthorize the GLRI for five years and gradually increase funding levels from $300 million a year to $475 million a year.

“We need to create additional resources to made sure we’re addressing all of the projects which we can’t do right now,” said Stabenow.

The senator says that opens up more funding for critical projects like the Traverse City Fish Pass which aims to protect these waters from invasive species and provide more recreation. It got off the ground because of the GLRI.

“It would take at least another 20 years to get where we are now without GLRI money because the research is expensive, transfer of research is expensive and so using our program dollars we have a research budget but it’s nowhere near what’s required for this kind of thing,” said Bob Lambe, Executive Secretary of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission.

Congress is expected to take further action on the legislation this fall.