Gov. Rick Snyder’s recognition on the importance of boat harbors to Michigan tourism and local communities last week was good news to state Rep. Greg MacMaster, who has been working to secure dredging funds for the past two years.
The Kewadin lawmaker followed up this week by sending a letter to the governor offering to provide any information or assistance he could provide as executive policy is discussed for dredging.
At the Michigan Press Association’s conference in Grand Rapids on Friday, Snyder said extremely low lake levels can have a critical impact on Michigan, from tourism opportunities to normal business and commerce issues. Earlier in the week, MacMaster co-sponsored House Bill 4106 to allow the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to consider harbor maintenance and dredging projects as eligible recreational opportunities for grant funding.
“The dropping lake levels and the need for dredging has become a major priority in recent years and I’m happy to see the governor addressing the issue,” MacMaster said. “As a scuba diver, I’ve personally witnessed the impact receding lake levels have had on our waterways and the need for dredging to maintain our commerce and tourism industries.”
In his letter to the governor, MacMaster wrote that towns across the state could be impacted, even those not located directly on a Great Lake, because of the historically low water levels and the lack of federal funding.
He specifically mentioned East Jordan, which must dredge its marina for the fourth time in five years and risks losing out on at least $250,000 in lost revenue and taxes if its marina is inaccessible this summer.
MacMaster said one possible solution would be to amend the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund statute to allow grants be awarded for harbor maintenance, along with its current recreational acquisition and development mission. Another solution would be to create a program to provide low interest loans.
“From my atmospheric scientist background, I can confidently state that our lake levels won’t see relief for decades,” said MacMaster, a former meteorologist. “Dredging access points and harbors around the state must be done this year to preserve the mission of the Pure Michigan campaign. It will help our state continue to be a national leader in tourism by ensuring the Great Lakes remain open for business in this and future summers.”
Press Release, January 31, 2013