As of 2014, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative had started 146 projects in Ohio, totaling $84 million. The wildlife recreation industry in the state of Ohio totals $3.5 billion, according to a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey. Of that, anglers made up the greatest contributors at $1.8 billion. Of the 1.3 million anglers in the state, those who traveled to the Great Lakes spent $618 per trip, on average. Keeping the Lakes strong and healthy doesn’t just benefit wildlife and the 3 million Ohioans who rely on the Lakes for their drinking water. Healthy Great Lakes mean that people can go out and enjoy the natural beauty and bounty produced in the Lakes, which in turn provides a strong economic benefit to the state. Indeed, over 150,000 jobs in Ohio are connected to the Great Lakes.
Visitors to the Lake Erie region of Ohio spend more than $10.7 billion annually—about 30 percent of the total tourism dollars spent in the state. These tourism dollars support more than 100,000 jobs. Additionally, this economy generates $750 million in state and local taxes each year. Lake Erie tourism can rise or fall depending on the health of the Lake.
In 2011 and 2013, large algal blooms on Lake Erie deterred people from fishing, boating, or swimming in the Lake during the late summer months. Some days during those outbreaks, thousands of people couldn’t drink their tap water due to contamination. Minimizing runoff from farms would help decrease the excess nutrients that cause massive algal blooms. But there are many ways to increase the health of the Lake as a whole, from investing in tributary health for fish to preventing the introduction of new invasive species. Good work has been done, benefitting the Ohio economy, but more work is still needed.