March 8, 2016

Between February 23 and 25, I had the opportunity to call on members offices of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to discuss Great Lakes related issues as part of the Congressional Great Lakes Day. I will do a complete report on our club website next week, but here is a short recap. My goal was to get support from legislators in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota to restore $1.6 million dollars annually in Sea Lamprey control funds that had been diverted away from the Great Lakes last year. Also to get support for a bill co-authored by Michigan Congressman Dan Benishek to permanently fund the Great Lakes Science Center, which provides support for the USFWS, USGS, and other departments to do research on the Great Lakes. The Kiyi, based out of Ashland, is part of this. Also to restore funding for the Great Lakes Recovery Initiative. I also had the opportunity to discuss pending legislation protecting sport and commercial fishing that could have an impact on the Great Lakes (HR 3310). I am glad to say both Wisconsin Senators, and all Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan Congressmen and offices I talked to were strongly supportive, including Congressmen Duffy, Benishek, and Nolan, as well as all the Wisconsin Lake Michigan congressional offices I talked to. When it comes to the Great Lakes, bipartisanship is alive and well.

While these might seem to have little local effect on the Apostle Islands, they in fact do. Lamprey control is the single most important thing to ensure a healthy fishery. At current funding levels, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission cannot do all that needs to be done in terms of Lamprey control.  The Great Lakes Science Center bill will ensure that the research needed to keep the Great Lakes healthy continues. And The GLRI funding will ensure that areas of concern on the Great Lakes are addressed and fixed. HR3310 will make it mandatory that the Federal Government and state DNR’s agree before any move to close a fishery to commercial or sport fishing happens.
Al House