Proposed budget will benefit wildlife if passed
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – May 20, 2009 – Ducks, geese and swans in the Great Lakes could realize an increase in the size and quality of their habitat if President Obama’s proposed budget for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative comes to fruition. The budget for 2010 contains an additional $475 million for Great Lakes restoration and economic recovery.
The Great Lakes are a high priority area for Ducks Unlimited’s conservation efforts. “More than 3 million ducks migrate through the region every year” said Gildo Tori, Director of Public Policy at Ducks Unlimited’s Great Lakes/Atlantic Regional Office. “The area is particularly important for mallards, wood ducks, and blue wing teal. Habitat restoration in the Great Lakes is a high priority under the proposed budget, with approximately $105 million slated for habitat/species restoration. . We welcome the additional resources in the region that will not only benefit waterfowl, but hunters, birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts as well.”
The new Great Lakes Restoration initiative is an interagency effort that will be led by the Environmental Protection Agency. The coalition of agencies will target resources to pressing environmental issues in the Great Lakes, which include invasive species, contaminated sediment, and nonpoint source pollution.
Appropriations committees that will review the bill include fifteen Great Lakes representatives, including House Chair Representative David Obey (D-Wis.) and four Senate Appropriation Committee members.
Source of more than 90 percent of the nation’s surface fresh water, the Great Lakes are seriously threatened by problems such as sewage contamination, invasive species, toxic pollution and the loss of wetlands and other habitat.
John Dingell (D-Mich.) is a long-time advocate for the Great Lakes and fish and wildlife habitat. “The health of the Great Lakes is critical to the success of the region. This budget is a fine beginning to what should be a long and significant financial commitment to this resource that provides environmental and economic support to surrounding areas.”
Restoring the Great Lakes will benefit the region’s metropolitan areas, generating between $200 million to $7 billion in cities like Duluth, Minn., Detroit, Mich., Chicago, Ill., and Buffalo, N.Y. But restoring the Great Lakes has national implications as well. “Waterfowl raised in the Great Lakes are harvested by hunters in more than 25 states in the eastern portion of the country.” added Tori. “Fishermen from all over the country to come fish the Great Lakes for salmon, trout, walleye, yellow perch and many other species.”
Supporters of Great Lakes restoration have observed some hopeful signs in recent months with the passage of a regional water management compact to ban water diversion from the Lakes and increased attention from both the White House and U.S. Congress.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with almost 12 million acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.