Sen. Stabenow Highlights Great Lakes Restoration Success Stories Across Michigan, Importance of Federal Funding

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

This month, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is highlighting Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) success stories throughout Michigan and the importance of federal funding to protect our lakes and waterways. Stabenow today joined Bill Rose, the President and CEO of the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Jamie McCarthy, the Watershed Coordinator for the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, and Tim Suprise, the founder and CEO of Arcadia Ales, to highlight the completion of the Kalamazoo Fen Restoration. Stabenow authored the GLRI in 2010 and is leading the bipartisan effort to stop proposals to eliminate funding for the Initiative next year.


The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative provided $196,000 in federal funding to the Kalamazoo Nature Center to restore wetlands and prevent erosion and runoff into the Kalamazoo River. The GLRI funding has led to increased economic activity in the area, giving more people the opportunity to enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and boating on the river. Arcadia Ales, a locally owned brewery, opened a new location on the Kalamazoo River, allowing patrons to take advantage of the riverfront. 


“One in five Michigan jobs are tied to water. It is more important than ever to continue investing in the health of our Great Lakes and waterways,” said Senator Stabenow, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “This successful project is an excellent example of how Great Lakes funding is helping more Michigan families and visitors enjoy boating, kayaking, and canoeing.”


"The Kalamazoo Nature Center, with its partners, are proud to be part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” said Bill Rose, President and CEO of the Kalamazoo Nature Center.  “With GLRI funding, we are able to protect and restore wetlands of the Great Lakes which benefit all of us through maintaining good water quality, reducing impacts from flooding, controlling invasive species and enhancing habitat for many rare plants and animals. These benefits spill over to grow our economy by increasing tourism and recreation."


“Work to clean up contaminated sediments from the Kalamazoo River and restore fish and wildlife habitat has been on-going for more than two decades,” said Jamie McCarthy, Watershed Coordinator for the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council.  “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been a powerful accelerator for that work.  We have seen a tremendous amount of progress in the last five years, and an equally impressive amount of private investment and development in Kalamazoo as the river is cleaned up.  The GLRI has been able to provide funding for important studies and other resources that helped bring projects to fruition that might have otherwise languished.”


"A clean and sustainable system for maintaining a healthy fresh water supply is critical not only for economic vitality in the Great Lakes, but for a the continued wellness of our communities,” said Tim Suprise, founder and CEO of Arcadia Ales.


According to the University Research Corridor, more than 700,000 Michigan jobs, one in five in the state, are tied to water. GLRI is critical to cleaning up our Great Lakes, beaches, and waterways for swimming, boating, and fishing; fighting invasive species like Asian carp, and protecting our Michigan way of life. Michigan projects have received more than $400 million in funding from the GLRI since its establishment. Michigan has an estimated 2,850 miles of coastal water trails as well as an estimated 1,280 miles of inland water trails. Our canoe and kayak industry annually contributes $140 million to our state’s economy.


Kalamazoo Fen Restoration Background


Fens are a special type of wetland that filter and slow water before it enters the Kalamazoo River, helping keep an important Lake Michigan tributary healthy. Over the past few years, the fens that line the Kalamazoo River have largely been destroyed by invasive species. The Kalamazoo Nature Center used the funding it received from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to remove invasive plants, which has allowed native plants to return to the wetlands on their own.