Governor John Kasich took a stand for sportsmen and other outdoor enthusiasts last week when he chose to veto House Bill 231, which would have created a process to permit excessive industrial withdrawals of water from Lake Erie. The lake is a haven for wildlife and provides sporting activities that generate millions in recreation-related activities every year.
"Governor Kasich did the right thing in vetoing this bill," said Becky Humphries, director of Ducks Unlimited's Great Lakes and Atlantic region. "The legislators can use this opportunity to revisit the issue and more carefully examine its impact on the important economic driver that is hunting and angling in this Great Lake."
Ohio is one of eight states and two Canadian provinces adjoining the Great Lakes that negotiated the Great Lakes Compact in 2008, designed to prevent the region's water from being withdrawn for use by other regions. The pact restricts large industrial diversions with rare exceptions, and requires the states to regulate their own large-scale withdrawals from the lakes and associated water systems. Many believed that the proposed legislation would have been at odds with previously negotiated standards.
The Great Lakes are also an important conservation area for Ducks Unlimited. For years, DU has been working extensively in the western Lake Erie basin to improve habitat that in turn enhances sporting opportunities in the area.
"DU shares the same concerns held by the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, the League of Ohio Sportsmen, former governors Voinovich and Taft, and Sam Speck and several other past directors of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources," said Gildo Tori, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. "Lake Erie is the shallowest of all of the Great Lakes and requires especially thoughtful planning when setting goals for business as well as recreational use."