Support For Ehlers' Collaborative Project

August 8, 2005
Print
Text Size:
A A

U.S. Rep. Vern Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, and President George W. Bush have opportunity to provide a legacy that will last a millennium (one hopes), in consideration of a collaborative, all-encompassing plan to remedy what is certainly killing the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem.

Last week Grand Rapids was one of just six cities in the country to host a public hearing held by one of the collaborators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, on the proposed Great Lakes Regional Collaboration draft plan. Other hearings were being held in Gary, Detroit, Cleveland, Superior (Wis.) and Buffalo. The plan addresses several challenges, not the least of which includes shoreline developments, sewer overflow issues and aquatic invasive species.

With enough support, Congress may act to fund this $20 billion plan, which has been a partnership performance by federal and state governments, business, industry, agriculture, tribes and citizens. Ehlers has called for a demonstration of support for the project, indicating that even in tight budget times, spreading the funding over a period of years would enhance its federal approval. It is interesting to note that in the same week of the Grand Rapids hearing, Grand Haven once again hosted a national salute to the U.S. Coast Guard with its annual festival.

The Michigan Land Use Institute, headquartered in Beulah, believes the cleanup could “mobilize thousands of workers to repair sewers, eliminate toxic hot spots and other conservation projects,” providing jobs in a wanting economy with an effect similar to that of the Civilian Conservation Corps project established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. Some have suggested the project is akin to that of the Everglades protection program. Such a project would have an enormous impact in Michigan

Should one be so unenlightened as to believe the issues of toxic pollutants and invasive species are regional in nature despite the balance of the world’s largest such ecosystem, please recall it was just a few years ago that the parched, waterless regions of the south and southwestern United States were actively engaged in discussion of diverting water from the Great Lakes, a discussion put asunder only after the governors of Great Lakes states managed to meet and finally agree on policy forbidding draining of the lakes. It is worth a moment to ponder the “economic benefits” and ecological disasters such policy prevented. The issues cited in the report are no less significant.

This has been The Summer of Hot, and the Big Lake provides a breeze on a “heat indexed” day, refreshment at water’s edge, fish for dinner or a “boater’s paradise.” It is obvious in August that the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem touches everyone.

Care of the immense shoreline under the noses of West Michigan residents should be obvious, and Ehlers’ initiative deserves support.

The final plan, based on input from the public hearings in August, is expected to be released Dec. 12.    

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus