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Economic Benefits in Wisconsin
As of 2014, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative had started 216 projects in Wisconsin, totaling $116 million. The wildlife recreation industry in the state brings in a total of $5.5 billion per year, according to a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey. The majority of those funds come from spending by hunters who are both in-state residents and out-of-state visitors. Total expenses for hunters in 2011 were $2.5 billion, while anglers spent $1.4 billion in the state and wildlife watchers spent $1.5 billion. Of the over 1 million anglers who fished the state, almost 30 percent traveled from another state to fish in Wisconsin waters. Fishing trips to the Great Lakes lead the average angler to spend $426 per trip. In Wisconsin, over 173,000 jobs are connected to the Great Lakes.
That money would be considerably lessened if healthy fish populations were not supported by the ecosystem. Similarly, the money from wildlife recreation has the potential to increase as the health of the Great Lakes increases. Restoring rivers that feed into the Lakes support fish spawning grounds and provide other healthy waters for anglers to fish in.
Lakes Michigan and Superior bring in $252 million annually to the lakeshore communities in Wisconsin. The tourism industry in these areas, alone, totals $3 billion. Tourists are drawn to the shores of a healthy, clean Lake, for swimming, boating, and relaxation. Keeping the Great Lakes healthy ensures that this source of revenue strengthens the state of Wisconsin as a whole, just as the Lakes do for all eight Great Lakes states.