Peters, Stabenow Announce $7.9 Million for Muskegon Lake Restoration

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow today announced that the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) has received a $7.9 million grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to restore Michigan’s Muskegon Lake. The grant will support what is expected to be one of the final habitat restoration projects necessary to formally remove Muskegon Lake from the list of Areas of Concern. The restoration is part of a new $40 million regional partnership between GLC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that enables the GLC to collaborate with state and local partners to clean up several Great Lakes Areas of Concern. 


“From fishing and boating to tourism and shipping, Michigan’s Great Lakes and waterways drive our economy,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is vital to protecting our precious water resources, and this funding will help restore critical habitat for fish and other wildlife and boost West Michigan’s economy with increased outdoor recreation opportunities.” 


“Protecting our Great Lakes is so important to our way of life and our economy in Michigan,” said Senator Stabenow, Co-Chair of Senate Great Lakes Task Force.  “Today’s investment will help us continue the cleanup and restoration of Muskegon Lake while keeping our waterways and wildlife habitats safe.”  


“We are proud to receive this recognition of our longstanding commitment to restoring toxic hotspots across the Great Lakes and excited to continue the work of restoring Muskegon Lake,” said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission. “This is the third regional partnership the Great Lakes Commission has been awarded since 2008, with over $70 million being directed to key sites across the basin. We look forward to continuing this critical work in collaboration with our federal and local partners.”


The Muskegon Lake project will reconnect former wetlands with the Muskegon River and restore fish passage and habitat for a variety of native fish and wildlife. It is anticipated that restoration will involve the removal of three dikes (4,361 feet) composed of artificial fill, including broken concrete, soil and tree stumps and restore 53.5 acres of wetland. Local implementation will be led by the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission. The project is expected to increase tourism and enhance the Muskegon Lake fishery, which is estimated to contribute $1.3 million annually to the local economy.


Muskegon Lake was designated a Great Lakes Area of Concern in 1985 due to poor water quality from industrial pollution and habitat loss from shoreline alterations and the filling of wetlands. Since 1992, community groups, governmental and nongovernmental organizations have worked collaboratively to remediate contaminated sediments and to restore and protect fish and wildlife species and their habitats.


Sens. Peters and Stabenow have been strong advocates for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is a multi-year plan to restore and preserve the Great Lakes by eliminating toxins, combating invasive species, restoring habitats, and promoting the general health of the Lakes. They are both cosponsors of the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act, legislation that would authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Great Lakes Legacy program that deals with contaminated sediments and the Great Lakes National Program Office within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


In February, Peters and Stabenow introduced the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization Act, bipartisan legislation to provide better federal funding opportunities to update technologies and create new research projects to benefit the Great Lakes, and close the research gap between the Great Lakes Science Center and other fishery research centers around the country.