A Message to Citizens on both sides of the U.S./Canada border from Erin Crotty, Executive Director, Audubon New York; Loren Smith, Executive Director, Buffalo Audubon Society; and June Summers. President, Genesee Valley Audubon Society
Posted March 8th, 2017 on Niagara At Large
The Great Lakes are five of America’s greatest natural treasures. It’s an ecosystem so epic in size and breathtaking in beauty that it instills a sense of national pride for the 85 million people who live in the region.
That’s why President Trump’s leaked EPA budget proposal, which slashes funding to protect and restore the lakes by 97 per cent, is so alarming.
Since 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has funded over 2,000 projects that enhance the regional economy, improve water quality, protect native wildlife, control invasive species, and clean up toxic pollutants that threaten our water supply. Cutting the GLRI budget from $300 million annually to a mere $10 million halts all of this important work, impacting not only our waters, birds and wildlife, but also the millions of people that call this region our home.
These numerous local projects add up to regional impact for cleaner water, healthier habitat, and vibrant communities across the eight Great Lakes states. Recreational boating, shipping, fishing, hydropower production, and ecotourism in and around the Great Lakes brings in billions of dollars to the regional economy each year, and the GRLI is a crucial investment to make sure that continues.
In New York, $125 million has been invested through the GLRI, supporting 271 projects. Specifically, GLRI funding has been used to restore the Buffalo River, which suffered from years of legacy pollution, rendering it unusable for recreational purposes until recently. GLRI funds have also supported wetland and habitat restoration at Times Beach, now a prime attraction at the Outer Harbor in Buffalo and Indian River Lakes, protecting and restoring 591 acres of connected watershed habitat.
Audubon New York and the Audubon chapters that work in and around the Great Lakes urge Congress to oppose this drastic cut. Holding 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water supply, the Great Lakes provide shelter, nourishment, and rest for millions of threatened migratory birds during their long journeys. Thousands of raptors, waterfowl, and wetland birds rely on these lakes for safe nesting grounds.
Contact your Senators and Representative and ask them to oppose this budget proposal. Together, we can ensure that the Great Lakes continue to provide abundant clean water for the people, birds, and wildlife that depend on them.
(A Brief Footnote to the above message from Niagara At Large publisher, journalist and environment writer Doug Draper – Whatever havoc is wreaked on the Great Lakes from the drastic environmental protection cuts Trump is threatening to make will show no respect for international boundaries and will be just as devastating for residents in Niagara, Ontrio and millions of other Canadians too.
Therefore, Canadians in the Great Lakes region should contact their provincial and federal members of parliament and urge them to raise their voices too.)
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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders