Portman, Klobuchar, Stabenow, Kirk Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Fish and Wildlife Restoration in the Great Lakes

May 19, 2016 | Press Releases

 Leaders of the Senate’s Great Lakes Task Force introduce bipartisan bill to help conserve and restore fish and wildlife populations in the Great Lakes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Mark Kirk (R-IL), today introduced a bipartisan bill to support fish and wildlife in the Great Lakes. As leaders of the Senate’s Great Lakes Task Force, the senators introduced the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act to provide critical resources to conserve and restore fish and wildlife populations in the Great Lakes. The bipartisan bill would authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to partner with other federal agencies, states, and tribes to develop and execute proposals for the restoration of fish and wildlife resources in the Great Lakes Basin. The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act serves an important role in implementing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and will renew continued cooperative efforts to address impacts associated with invasive species throughout the Great Lakes Basin.

“Lake Erie is a part of who we are as Ohioans,” Portman said. “It supports a $6 billion fishing industry and it’s our top tourist destination. The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act helps protect the Lake by bringing federal agencies together with the state of Ohio to address the greatest threats to our fish and wildlife--threats like invasive species, habitat degradation, and illegal fishing activities. By reauthorizing this initiative, we are providing the Fish and Wildlife Service with the resources it needs to protect this Ohio treasure for generations to come.”

“The Great Lakes are a major part of Minnesotans’ way of life, providing clean drinking water, fish and wildlife habitat, and opportunities for outdoor recreation,” Klobuchar said. “We must do everything we can to protect our Great Lakes for generations to come, and this bipartisan bill will help provide critical resources to conserve and restore the fish and wildlife that call the Great Lakes home.”

“Our Great Lakes fisheries and diverse wildlife attract millions of visitors each year and are vital to our state’s economy and job creation,” Stabenow said. “This legislation will help restore wildlife habitats while combating the serious threat of invasive species.”

“With summer quickly approaching, Illinois families deserve clean, safe water throughout the Great Lakes region to swim in and enjoy with their families. I urge the Senate to swiftly pass my bipartisan Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act to enable restoration programs like these that keep our waters full of life and free from toxins, sewage and the threat of invasive species for generations to come,” said Senator Kirk.

The Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act has been endorsed by Ducks Unlimited, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, and the Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. The legislation would provide assistance to Great Lakes fish and wildlife agencies to encourage cooperative conservation, restoration and management of the fish and wildlife resources and their habitats. The bill would authorize $6 million annually from 2016 through 2021 to implement restoration projects and USFWS activities of regional importance to the Great Lakes, and would require a 25 percent non-federal match of total project cost.

As one of the vice-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, Portman is a leading advocate for the protection of the Great Lakes. Portman has worked to prevent the Army Corps’ of Engineers from disposing of dredged materials from the Cleveland Harbor Project in Lake Erie without approval by the Ohio EPA, ensure access to clean drinking water for those around the Great Lakes, and eliminate harmful algal blooms to protect the health and ecosystem of Lake Erie.