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County on right track in lakeshore designation

Shrinking beaches. Downed trees. Endangered homes. Destroyed infrastructure.

These are just a few examples of what has occurred along the shorelines of the Great Lakes as water levels have risen.

Due to this, the Marquette County Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday requesting the Michigan Great Lakes shoreline be declared a disaster area by the state.

The resolution requests the “governor of the state of Michigan along with the state Legislature declare the shoreline of the Great Lakes in the state of Michigan a disaster area, and that the governor and state Legislature seek assistance from Congress and the president of the United States of America for this devastating situation which has an impact statewide,” according to a recent Journal article on the matter.

We believe the county board is to be commended for taking a leadership role in an issue that has impacts in Marquette County and far beyond, as shoreline communities around the Great Lakes state are already experiencing the devastating economic and ecological impacts of high water.

When many shoreline municipalities are already dealing with tight budgets and declining tax revenue, emergency infrastructure repairs due to erosion and high waters can be a major financial burden and take funds away from other important projects.

“When the local effort is not enough to deal with something, then we need to get some aid from the feds or the state. Well, it’s reached that point in many communities in the state,” Marquette County Board Chairman Gerald Corkin said in the article.

While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has proposed $40 million in the 2021 budget to assist with the negative impacts of high waters and climate conditions around the state, Corkin emphasized more help will be needed.

“What it boils down to is there’s been hundreds of millions (of dollars) – probably into the billions – of infrastructure that’s been destroyed around the Great Lakes in local communities,” Corkin said in the article.

The proposed $40 million from the state would certainly be helpful, but considering the sheer number of communities in the state that are dealing with significant shoreline damage, it’s likely that much more will be needed.

For example, take the Lakeshore Boulevard reconstruction and relocation project that the city of Marquette plans to start this spring: the total bill is likely to exceed $12 million, and that’s just one part of one road in one city.

It’s wise of the county board to recognize that more help is needed for our Great Lakes shoreline communities, and we hope other leaders will too.

Fortunately, the resolution will soon be in the hands of many people who have the power to make a difference for our shoreline communities. It will be sent to all of the 83 counties in Michigan as well as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, state Sen. Ed McBroom, state Rep. Beau LaFave, U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, state Rep. Sara Cambensy and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, the article reported.

“All 83 counties in Michigan are going to need as much help as they can get so we (have) got to get everybody on board with us,” Marquette County Commissioner Johnny DePetro said in the article.

We agree and we encourage these leaders to band together in an effort to seek federal help for our shorelines, as this issue is central to the environmental and economic wellbeing of the Great Lakes State.

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