(December 21, 2020) Today, Marnie Urso, Policy Director for Audubon Great Lakes issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s passage of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act (HR 4031). The bill reauthorizes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which is set to expire in 2021, and increases funding incrementally from 300 million to $475 million per year over five years:
“Last night, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 (HR 4031) – a huge win for the 40 million people and millions of birds that rely on the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater ecosystem on the planet.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is vital for people, wildlife, and birds that call the Great Lakes region home. Since 2010, the GLRI has been a proven success and is working to address the threats facing the Great Lakes like toxic algae blooms, invasive species, drinking water quality, and the loss of critical habitat for wildlife.
The GLRI has helped restore habitats for shorebirds, including the endangered Piping Plover which returned to Chicago in 2019 for the first time in over 60 years. Moving forward it will also benefit breeding marsh birds, like the Black Tern, which rely on high-quality coastal wetlands.
This bipartisan, bicameral bill will ensure the continued improvement of our water quality and the protection of native wildlife all while creating jobs and benefiting the economy. According to one recent study from the University of Michigan, every GLRI dollar spent from 2010 to 2016 will produce $3.35 in additional economic activity in the Great Lakes through 2036.
Protecting and restoring our Great Lakes must be a top priority. We applaud our representatives in the Great Lakes region who recognize that healthy waters mean healthy people, birds and wildlife. We thank Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) for their leadership in the U.S. Senate, and Reps. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), for championing the bill in the House.
Audubon Great Lakes looks forward to the speedy signing of this bipartisan-backed bill into law, as it makes it way from Congress to the President’s desk.”
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.
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