KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Senator Debbie Stabenow said she grew up loving the Great Lakes. Now, as an adult she’s doing what she can to protect them and keep them safe for everyone to enjoy through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
“It really is about our Michigan way of life,” said Sen. Stabenow during a press conference at Arcadia Ales near the Kalamazoo River. “It extends to our rivers and our lakes are all of our [water] systems.”
Sen. Stabenow said the $400 million project —which funds several inititaives throughout the state — cleaned up the Kalamazoo River over the last three years. Approximately $196,000 were used to remove invasive species and toxins from the river.
“You can paddle down the river, you can enjoy the water,” said Sen. Stabenow standing next to to kayaks. “We have a growing number of businesses that are locating alongside the river.”
Businesses like Arcadia Ales on Michigan Avenue opened on the river, using it as its backyard. However, despite the success of the GLRI, Stabenow said the Trump administration has decided earlier this year to cut funding. She’s still in shock. She said the project is the ‘first line of defense’ in the fight against the Asian Carp.
“Commercial fishing has actually been funded to take the fish out of the rivers and send them to fish processing plants and send them to back to Asia,” said Sen. Stabenow.
She said her team is looking for more permanent solutions to the problem. They've even reached out to politicians in Illinois inquiring about how they’ve gotten rid of over 5 million pounds of Asian Carp from their waters. The issue, including the general protection and restoration of waters, she sees as much bigger than the state.
“We have to remain vigilant and I want to make sure that we’re continuing to tell the story,” said Sen. Stabenow. “It’s very important.”