This project will help preserve 8 miles of shoreline and 406 acres of wetlands in the Indian River Lakes ecosystem. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

Wetlands in the Indian River Lakes ecosystem, New York. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited.

Groups around the Great Lakes are joining together to urge members of congress to take action on authorizing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Two bills are moving, one in the U.S. House of Representatives and one in the U.S. Senate. The coalition supports both bills and would like to see them implemented into law.

“The millions of people who depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life are counting on the U.S. Congress to make Great Lakes restoration a long-term national priority,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Federal Great Lakes restoration investments are producing results in communities across the region, but there is more work to do. We urge the U.S. Senate and House to act with haste to pass these important bills to support the region’s environment and economy.”

You can read the press release below.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A coalition of Great Lakes states, cities, tribes, business, industry, and conservation leaders today called on congressional leaders to pass the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act, bipartisan legislation recently approved by committees in both the House and Senate.  The bill would authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a successful and popular program that is helping states and local partners clean up degraded toxic hotspots, restore habitat for fish and wildlife, thwart Asian carp and other invasive species, and prevent polluted runoff that can close beaches and cause harmful algal blooms in the eight-state Great Lakes region.

“Restoring the Great Lakes creates jobs, stimulates economic development, and protects fresh drinking water for 30 million people,” reads the letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. “The lakes currently generate more than 1.5 million jobs and $60 billion in wages annually, and provide the foundation for a $30 billion tourism economy. The Great Lakes are an invaluable resource worth restoring and protecting, and this legislation is critical to sustaining our collective efforts toward this end. We urge you to support passage of this legislation in the current session of Congress.” Read the full text of the letter here.

GLRI efforts have been underway since 2010, funded annually by the program’s inclusion in the President’s budget and with broad bipartisan support from Congress. The bills approved by House and Senate committees will remove the annual uncertainty and help ensure continued support for the program by the next administration.  The coalition is urging congressional leaders to take action now to pass the bipartisan legislation—H.R. 223 sponsored by Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and S. 1024 sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)—before congressional actions slow during the run up to the  fall election.

The letter was signed jointly by the Great Lakes Commission, Healing Our Waters- Great Lakes Coalition, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, Council of Great Lakes Industries and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition.