Great Lakes Task Force Letter Needs More Signatures

The Great Lakes Task Force is asking all Great Lakes lawmakers to sign onto a letter that advocates for full funding of important restoration programs by this Thursday. The letter will be delivered to the Ranking and Minority chairs on the Interior Appropriations Committee.

The Task Force is asking the Committee to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $475 million for FY 2011. The President’s budget lowered the request to $300 million at a time when we need added investment to reach to goals for GLRI outlined by the Administration and when many GLRI dollars are being siphoned off to fight the Asian carp. We would prefer that money to battle these invasive species come from the agencies’ regular budgets. As the President has said the GLRI is meant to supplement, not supplant agency budgets.

Next, the letter urges lawmakers to provide $16 million for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes program. This act pays for projects that restore the fish and wildlife resources in the Basin based on the Great Lakes Fishery Restoration Study. The entire region benefits from these projects.

We need $2 million for the US Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Geologic Mapping Coalition. And the letter puts in a request for $15 million for the US Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center. The Science Center monitors fish populations and provides critical information to Great Lakes managers. They use research vessels on each lake – they are the only federal facility that does this – giving us significant information for determining fish harvests. The problem is that the Science Center’s budget is severely underfunded. They need a real investment now so that the fish surveys will be conducted and fishing quotas established.

So far,Reps. John Dingell, Mark Kirk, Louise Slaughter and Vern Ehlers have signed the letter. Please encourage your lawmaker to sign onto this important bipartisan letter by contacting Joy Mulinex at 224-1211.

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