For many sportsmen and women, the Great Lakes is more than just a body of water that contains some amazing hunting and fishing opportunities. The Great Lakes are a piece of the Midwestern soul. Countless generations of the sporting community have made lifelong memories on those vast bodies of water — each memory, each story is passed on to the next generation until they generate their own stories to be told to the sportsmen and women who follow them. The inherent value of the Great Lakes goes far beyond the reach of politics or dueling opinions.
The Great Lakes have stood the test of time, thanks to the hands of the conservationists who have come before us. As Land Tawney likes to say, “we stand on the shoulders of giants.” Without those past conservationists making their voice heard, there would be no more memories to be made, no more stories to be passed on. Recently, we saw the voices of our generation of conservationists heard as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 (HR. 4031), introduced by Rep. David Joyce of Ohio’s 14thdistrict, passed the House of Representatives. The conservationists of our generation rose to the occasion with 430 signatures on the action alert we posted earlier regarding this bill. Due to our unified voice, only the Senate stands between the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 and the President’s desk, where it could be signed into law.
The GLRIA, if signed into law, would extend the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative into Fiscal Year 2026. Currently, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is set to expire in Fiscal Year 2021. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative program is vital for the conservation of the region, providing $300 million every year for projects related to increasing the sustainability of the Great Lakes. This program helps to accelerate cleanup efforts of toxic areas, halt the devastating spread of Asian carp, and work with area farmers to reduce phosphorus pollution from runoff. All these actions will help protect a $6 trillion regional economy and a $7 billion fishing economy. It is projected that every dollar spent on this program will produce more than three dollars in economic activity.
It is no secret that the Great Lakes are vital to the region. Now, with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 headed to the Senate, it is time for us to take the baton from conservationists who have come before us and further a program that is vital for the sustainability of the Great Lakes. As sportsmen and women, we have an inherent obligation to give back to what has given us so much as we seek to be stewards of the outdoors. Let your voice be heard and contact your Senator to tell them as a hunter and/or angler we want to see S.2295, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 cross the finish line and be signed into law!