Only a few months after celebrating key congressional victories at the end of 2016, Great Lakes advocates are now fighting to prevent a complete elimination of funding for a federal program that has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into projects that protect habitat, stop the spread of invasive species and clean up “Areas of Concern.”
President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint calls for an end to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It says “specific regional efforts,” such as those related to the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, should instead be the responsibility of state and local entities.
In the weeks following congressional passage of an omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2016, Great Lakes advocates were hailing the federal legislation as a victory for protecting and restoring the world’s largest system of fresh surface water. As has been the case in past budget cycles, future funding levels for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiativehad been in doubt. President Obama, who helped create the GLRI during his first year as president, had called for a $50 million reduction in funding for FY 2016.
But the final budget maintains funding at $300 million, and it also formally authorizes the initiative — a move that will put it on more solid footing during the annual budget-making process in Washington, D.C.