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Published: Thursday, 5/25/2006

Senate bills would boost funding $12M

BLADE STAFF

WASHINGTON - Advocates Tuesday hailed the movement of two potentially significant bills for the Great Lakes region's greatest water resource.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee agreed to recommend $12 million more in annual funding for the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, which dates to 1990 and must be reauthorized to continue.

A bill co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) and U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine (R., Ohio) calls for the act to be reauthorized, plus funding to be set at $20 million a year instead of $8 million annually.

Up to $6 million would be earmarked for new fish and wildlife projects.

Other sponsors included U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio), a member of the Senate committee that made the recommendation.

The four senators also were involved with the movement of the Great Lakes Coordination and Oversight Act through the same Senate committee. That act calls for $20 billion of improvements for the lakes, especially in sewage.

Both bills now go to the full Senate.

Tom Kiernan, president of the National Parks Conservation Association, called the development "an important first step in restoring the Great Lakes."

Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office in Ann Arbor, said the bills show "that Great Lakes restoration is a national issue defined by urgency, not political party affiliation."



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