Booher works on Great Lakes issues with fellow state and provincial lawmakers from the basin

Senator Darwin Booher

Senator Darwin Booher

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Darwin Booher recently joined other regional leaders in Great Lakes policy to discuss important Great Lakes water issues.

At this year’s Great Lakes Legislative Caucus annual meeting, held Sept. 25-26 in Buffalo, participating legislators passed five policy resolutions and took part in sessions on how to stop the spread of Asian carp, mitigate the potential hazards of crude oil transport, and prevent toxic algal blooms by controlling nutrient runoff into the lakes and their tributaries. Members and other meeting attendees also had an opportunity to see firsthand how the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is helping government, nonprofit and private organizations partner on projects that are restoring and revitalizing the city of Buffalo’s waterfront.

Booher sponsored two resolutions that seek more federal support to maintain 112 small harbors in the Great Lakes and oppose any permanent underground repository for nuclear waste in the Great Lakes basin by Ontario Power Generation.

“Despite a balance of $8.7 billion in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund at the federal level, the Great Lakes harbor maintenance needs are not being met,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I’ve heard from harbors in my district as well as from across Michigan that want something done to better fund our harbors. I sponsored this resolution to urge congressional members to use the trust fund dollars for their intended purpose and fund Great Lakes harbors.”

Other resolutions that were approved include:

  • Support for an agreement signed by the Michigan and Ohio governors and Ontario premier to reduce phosphorus loadings into the western basin of Lake Erie by 40 percent;
  • Call for the Great Lakes governors to reject a plan by the city of Waukesha in Wisconsin to divert Lake Michigan water for use as drinking water; and
  • Support for new federal legislation, the Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act.

The resolutions can be viewed in full at www.greatlakeslegislators.org.

The caucus is a nonpartisan group of legislators from eight Great Lakes states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Québec). Nearly 40 state and provincial legislators took part in this year’s meeting, at which they approved resolutions.

The caucus is led by its chair, Wisconsin Rep. Cory Mason, and vice chair, Michigan Sen. Darwin Booher, as well as an executive committee made up of representatives from each of the Great Lakes basin’s 10 jurisdictions. In addition to its annual meeting, the caucus hosts Great Lakes policy workshops in individual states and provinces; maintains a legislative tracker to keep members updated on key state and federal actions on water policy; and gives members the chance to weigh in on Great Lakes issues through resolutions and sign-on letters. The Great Lakes Legislative Caucus will hold its 2016 annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on July 15-16, 2016, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Midwestern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments (CSG).

The Midwestern Office of The Council of State Governments provides staffing services for the caucus, which is funded in part by a grant from the Joyce Foundation. CSG is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association serving all three branches of state government. For more information about the caucus, please visit www.greatlakeslegislators.org.

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Senate approves Booher’s Sleeping Bear specialty license plate

Senator Darwin Booher

Senator Darwin Booher

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan motorists are one step closer to being able to purchase a special Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore license plate after legislation sponsored by state Sen. Darwin Booher was unanimously approved on Thursday.

“A Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore specialty license plate will allow motorists to both show their support for this treasured Pure Michigan park, but also contribute to its upkeep and preservation,” said Booher, R-Evart. “I thank my colleagues for their support and encourage the House of Representatives to do the same.”

Proceeds from the sale of the specialty plate will go to help support Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear (PHSB), a nonprofit that works to preserve and restore the park’s resources, as well as educate the public about all it has to offer.

Officially established by Congress in 1970, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore stretches across 70,000 acres of Leelanau and Benzie counties. The park includes the natural geography and forests of birch, pine, beech, and maple, along with 64 miles of Lake Michigan beaches, two islands, 26 inland lakes and the monumental sand dunes.

Beyond these natural features, the park also contains a treasure trove of Michigan history, including pioneer farmsteads, early cabins and cottages, and three U.S. life-saving service stations, including a lighthouse. In 1998, however, the park service found itself unable to care for these 200-plus historic structures and began to demolish them as they fell into disrepair.

A grass-roots effort led by local citizens resulted in the founding of PHSB. The group, an official park partner for more than 15 years, helps protect and preserve the historical resources and cultural landscapes embodied in the remnants of 19th century agriculture, logging, maritime and tourism activities in the area.

Booher said funds from the license plates sales, which will be transmitted quarterly, will go a long way to support the group and the park.

Senate Bill 91 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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