The conservationists who attended Great Lakes Day in Washington this week got an answer yesterday to their question about President Obama’s commitment to the Great Lakes. $475 million has been allocated to create a Great Lakes restoration project led by the EPA. I saw reports of this in three newspapers – the Kenosha News, Chicago Tribune, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
I do not read three newspapers every morning – I went looking for articles on this topic on-line. The articles were from an AP press release. I am sure other papers - from Buffalo and Detroit to Cleveland and Duluth - reported on the item, too.
I do read, however, the New York Times daily. I find its coverage of international and national events a good balance for the primarily local coverage of our hometown paper. I was not surprised that the Times did not cover this aspect of the proposed budget. Its reports on the budget focused more on policy shifts, healthcare, and taxes.
But in the Escapes section, a weekly collection of travel and leisure articles, I found an article about Porcupine Mountains State Park , which are located on the south shore of Lake Superior. The article caught my eye because my husband and I were there years ago on a wonderful camping trip. This article was about winter camping in the area. Our camping trip was in August when the black flies were ferocious. Although winter camping is not my style, I wondered if the advantage of snow and ice might be no biting flies.
Back to the proposal for GL restoration. One report of the project said the EPA does not want to do this in a piecemeal fashion with small improvements here and there. Rather, they plan to approach it with the entire Great Lakes watershed in mind. That is a shift in thinking, according to the EPA.
Although specifics of the project remain to be determined, action is expected to start quickly, with regional collaboration to determine priorities. So yes, there is a commitment to the Great Lakes in this administration. When implemented, an impact should be felt in Toledo and Kenosha, Milwaukee and Sandusky. Buffalo and Erie.
And in New York City, too. All those folks who read about winter camping in the Porkies will want to go there. Maybe they will visit in the summer too, unless they read what I said about the biting flies. However, just letting east-coasters know about the treasures in the Great Lakes region is a good start. If they don’t want to visit the UP of Michigan, there are also miles of inland coastline to explore. Cities and small towns, too, and $475M will go a long way to improving the draw.