The Great Lakes, to put it lightly, are important to Michigan in more ways than one.
Economically, they're important for shipping, Recreationally, they provide many ways to have fun. And environmentally, they provide homes for numerous wildlife species.
Michigan U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin recently announced $488,000 in funding for a regional partnership to restore habitat in the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Commission will lead the initiative and work with local and state agencies on the habitat restoration. The $488,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will fund the work.
The Democratic lawmakers, both members of the Great Lakes Task Force, led an effort to pass the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This initiative aims to restore and preserve the Great Lakes by fighting toxins, invasive species and other factors detrimental to the habitat's overall health.
In fact, the initiative is the biggest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. A task force of 11 federal agencies created an action plan that in addition to cleaning up toxins and dealing with invasive species, protects watersheds from polluted run-off and restores wetlands.
This is the latest bit of good news for the Great Lakes, which earlier this year were designated as a Critical Conservation Area.
This means the region will be eligible for increased funding from the Regional Conservation Partnership Program under the new Farm Bill.
It will enable the Great Lakes states as well as landowners, regional organizations and other partners to respond to local priorities regarding habitat protection, water quality and soil erosion.
Unfortunately, these issues aren't unique to just the Great Lakes. Prairies, inland wetlands and forests face the same challenges.
Money most likely won't solve all the problems facing the Great Lakes, but the new grant is a good start.