Recreational boating report released
A new report detailing the economic impact of recreational boating in the Great Lakes region and the need to maintain shallow draft harbors has been released by the Great Lakes Commission. The report was unveiled July 11 in a media teleconference headed by Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, chair of the Great Lakes Commission, and drew more than a dozen reporters from around the region. The report shows that recreational boating is a major element of the regional economy and illustrates the need to invest in the protection and management of our water resources. The report is available online at www.glc.org/recboat. Contact: Dave Knight, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Policy and Advocacy- Legislation update
Several pieces of legislation of particular importance to the Great Lakes region are now moving through Congress. Among them are:
- Ballast water: A letter from Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, chair of the Great Lakes Commission, has been sent to leading members of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee outlining the Commission's views on ballast water legislation in H.R. 2830, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007. The Commission's letter, along with letters from the Council of Great Lakes Governors (www.cglg.org) convey to Congress the views of the states on this critical issue. While the states are pleased to see the legislation appears to be moving forward, there are concerns that certain provisions, as currently written, do not provide adequate protection for the Great Lakes against aquatic invasive species. Among these are an unnecessarily long timeline for vessels to install treatment technology and precluding state and local governments from enacting complementary measures of their own. Commission representatives will also be visiting Washington July 30-Aug. 1 to discuss ballast water legislation with members of Congress. Contact: Tim Eder, email@example.com.
- Clean Water Act: A bill (H.R. 2421) to restore federal protections for wetlands weakened by recent Supreme Court decisions has been introduced by Rep. James Oberstar (Minn.). The bill, which has drawn 167 co-sponsors, would eliminate the term "navigable" in describing the waters protected by the act and replace it with the phrase "waters of the United States." Oberstar says the legislation restores clean water protections written into law in the 1970s.
- WRDA: The Water Resources Development Act reauthorization has been passed by both the House and Senate and is presently in conference committee to reconcile differences. Both versions include authorization for the completion and operation of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal dispersal barrier, which has been a top priority of the Great Lakes Commission.
- Farm Bill: The Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control will distribute no grants in 2007; the program was left out of the continuing resolution that funded the Department of Agriculture for the year. Supporters of the program hope it will be funded in the 2008 Agriculture appropriations bill(s) now under consideration, as it is the only existing conservation title dedicated to on-the-ground restoration, as envisioned by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy. The Commission is also working to ensure the program is reauthorized in the 2007 Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) now before Congress. Contact: Tom Crane, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Water Resources Compact, Agreement move ahead in states and provinces|
Measures to implement the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement, which establishes historic protections for the waters of the Great Lakes basin, continue to move forward in the region's states and provinces. The New York State Senate passed legislation to ratify the associated Great Lakes Compact, which implements the Agreement, , on July 16; the measure now goes to the state assembly, which previously approved a different version of the bill. The legislature has now adjourned, but may be called back for a special session.
Ratification legislation was introduced in the Pennsylvania House on July 6. In Illinois, legislation to ratify the Compact awaits the signature of Gov. Rod Blagojevich following passage by the state legislature.
Ratification legislation is pending in Indiana and Michigan. In Wisconsin, a special legislative council has been convened for the purpose of developing legislation. Indiana and Pennsylvania are also conducting stakeholder meetings to address plans for implementation.
Minnesota, Ontario and Québec have all enacted legislation to approve the Agreement and/or Compact, though Québec is still considering measures for implementation.
For more information, visit the Council of Great Lakes Governors web site at www.cglg.org.
Featured project - Great Lakes Habitat Initiative
Information on habitat restoration and conservation projects collected under the Great Lakes Habitat Initiative is available at www.glhi.org. The Great Lakes Commission developed the database as a resource for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for use in evaluating such projects to help guide funding decisions that can be made under current authorities, in support of the goals of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration. The Commission will continue to maintain the database as a regional resource. The information may be useful to federal, state and local entities and nongovernmental organizations to use in developing their own projects and identifying potential partners. Contact: Victoria Pebbles, email@example.com.
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A News Briefs archive can be found at www.glc.org/email/archive