TAYLOR RIDDERBUSCH / Trout Unlimited Great Lakes Organizer
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(March 16, 2017) ARLINGTON, Va. Trout Unlimited is deeply troubled by the Trump administrations proposed FY 2018 budget, which would eliminate critical programs that protect and restore coldwater resources and that form the foundation of multi-billion dollar commercial and recreational fishing economies.
The proposal would significantly cut funding to the EPA and other agencies, entirely eliminating programs such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and the Chesapeake Bay Program.
Since 2010, the GLRI has supported more than 3,400 projects, totaling nearly $1.76 billion, in the Great Lakes region, including TU projects improving stream connectivity and restoring instream habitat. The Presidents budget proposes to eliminate the $300 million GLRI.
Trout Unlimited relies on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to work with local communities and other partners to complete projects that strengthen trout, salmon, and steelhead fisheries and benefit local economies, said Keith Curley, Trout Unlimiteds Vice President for Eastern Conservation. You dont hear these words very often, but thank goodness for Congress. We will need the bipartisan Great Lakes congressional delegation to reverse these cuts in this years appropriations bills.
The largest freshwater ecosystem on earth, the Great Lakes provide drinking water to more than 35 million people on a daily basis. The Great Lakes are home to thousands of fish and wildlife species, from blue herons and whitetail deer to walleye and salmon. This abundance of wildlife makes the region a world class hunting and fishing destination and drives a significant and crucial part of the Great Lakes outdoor economy as it supports a $7 billion fishery and a $16 billion tourism industry annually. Michigan and Wisconsin rank 2nd and 3rd respectively as the largest sport fishing destinations in the nation.
Projects to improve fisheries have been completed in all eight Great Lakes Basin states. Wisconsin is seeing a $750,000 investment in infrastructure to improve fish passage in and around the Nicolet National Forest, Michigan has received funding to improve the Rogue, Pere Marquette, Manistee, and Little Manistee rivers, and Minnesota has benefited from projects on Lake Superior tributaries like the Sucker River and Stewart River, just to name a few Trout Unlimited initiatives.
GLRI projects often feature a 2:1 or even 3:1 ratio return in matching funds, which provides a boost to local economies across the region. This economic benefit comes in the form of improved infrastructure, such as culvert replacements or dam removals, the use of local contractors, and through the spending of sportsmen and women as the improved habitat becomes an angling or hunting destination.
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