Alliance Calls For Restoration Of Great Lakes Program

In a series of meetings with legislators and staff in Washington, DC, in early March, the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance urged legislators to reinstate $300 million in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) – a program that infuses Michigan’s shoreline and water alone with over $100 million dollars in contamination clean up and invasive species prevention and control.

Alliance Director of Government Relations Kent Wood and  Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Doug Luciani were in Washington with the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition advocating for member business interests across the Great Lakes region. One area of particular focus was restoring funding for the GLRI, which under the Trump administrations budget proposal was slated to be completely eliminated.

The GLRI supports implementation of a comprehensive cleanup plan that has been broadly endorsed by the region’s governors, tribes, cities, conservation groups, business and industry. Begun in 2009, the Initiative builds on years of work to identify solutions to key problems facing the Great Lakes, including:

  • combating aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carp;
  • cleaning up contaminated sediments in toxic hotspots;
  • controlling polluted runoff and cleaning up beaches;
  • restoring degraded wetlands; and
  • conserving and enhancing fish and wildlife resources.

Since the beginning of the program in 2009, the Chamber Alliance and business community have wholeheartedly supported the mission of the Initiative, and have understood that the lakes are fundamental to the region’s identity and quality of life.

All together, the Coalition met with over 50 Congressional offices. Chamber Alliance representatives individually met with staff from the offices of Congressman Bergman and Moolenaar, in addition to meetings with U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, and Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI -2).

Bi-partisan support for the program was strong across both the Michigan delegation and legislators across the Great Lakes. However, continued support from the business community is needed, and Chamber members are encouraged to contact their U.S. representatives and senators and urge them to support the restoration of $300 million in the federal budget for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

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