Ishpeming, Michigan – This month, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is highlighting Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) success stories throughout Michigan and the importance of federal funding to protect our lakes and waterways. Stabenow today joined the City of Ishpeming, Marquette County and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to celebrate the Partridge Creek Diversion Project that was critical to Deer Lake receiving a clean bill of health in 2014. Stabenow authored the GLRI in 2010 and is leading the bipartisan effort to stop proposals to eliminate funding for the Initiative next year.
Deer Lake was one of 14 “Areas of Concern” in Michigan that were identified in the 1980s by the United States and Canadian governments as having severe, long-term environmental problems. Since the establishment of the GLRI, two Areas of Concern in Michigan have been given a clean bill of health or “de-listed” – Deer Lake and White Lake. The Partridge Creek Diversion Project, completed in 2013, received $14 million through GLRI and stopped the flow of mercury into Deer Lake that made fish unsafe to eat and harmed bald eagle populations.
“One in five Michigan jobs are tied to water. It is more important than ever to continue investing in the health of our Great Lakes and waterways,” said Senator Stabenow, Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “This successful project is an excellent example of how Great Lakes funding helped Deer Lake get a clean bill of help so more Michigan families and visitors enjoy fishing once again.”
“The Partridge Creek Diversion Project was a tremendous blessing to this community,” said Mark Slown, City Manager of Ishpeming. “In the process of delisting the Deer Lake Area of Concern (AOC) and associated environmental problems, significant infrastructure problems for the City of Ishpeming were also resolved. New storm water drainage and associated street reconstruction have helped revitalize our downtown. Thanks to a great team effort from Federal, State, County, and City officials, and from local residents who were advocating for improvements, many people will benefit from this project for decades to come.”
“Senator Stabenow played an important role in getting funding for the Partridge Creek project which helped eliminate Deer Lake as an area of concern and was the first site in Michigan delisted by the EPA,” said Gerry Corkin, Marquette County Board Chairman. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is important to Marquette County and this project is a positive result.”
According to the University Research Corridor, more than 700,000 Michigan jobs, one in five in the state, are tied to water. GLRI is critical to cleaning up our Great Lakes, beaches, and waterways for swimming, boating, and fishing; fighting invasive species like Asian carp, and protecting our Michigan way of life. Michigan projects have received more than $600 million in funding from the GLRI since its establishment. Michigan has an estimated 2,850 miles of coastal water trails as well as an estimated 1,280 miles of inland water trails. Our canoe and kayak industry annually contributes $140 million to our state’s economy.
Partridge Creek/Deer Lake Background
Partridge Creek is a small tributary that feeds into Deer Lake. Prior to the diversion project, the creek flowed through the New York pit mine (east of the City of Ishpeming) gathering mercury that then would be deposited in Deer Lake. The Partridge Creek diversion project re-routed the flow of Partridge Creek away from the mine and back to the historic streambeds through the City of Ishpeming.
In 2010, the City of Ishpeming received $14 million through GLRI in two grants (matched by $700,000 from the City). The first phase of the project was completed in 2012 and the second was completed in 2013.
Great Lakes Aquatic Connectivity and Infrastructure Program
In addition to leading the effort in the Senate on fully funding the GLRI, Senator Stabenow is also championing legislation to protect and restore our recreational fisheries. In June, she introduced the Great Lakes Aquatic Connectivity and Infrastructure Program Act (S. 1332) to improve Great Lakes fisheries and encourage habitat restoration by repairing and replacing aging dams, culverts, and roads. There are thousands of these structures across the Great Lakes Basin that currently inhibit the movement of fish populations. Great Lakes states and tribal governments will be able to recommend grant projects to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to expand fish access to waterways and work to prevent the spread of invasive species when addressing aging infrastructure.
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