The Michigan Port Collaborative (MPC) applauded timely action by Governor Snyder, key agencies in his administration and legislators to secure critically needed emergency dredging funds for Great Lakes harbors.
New legislation – requested by the Governor and now enroute to his desk for signature – will provide $21 million to dredge 49 harbors to keep them accessible for commerce and recreational boating this year.
“Ports are in desperate need of this funding to maintain their local economies,” said Felicia Fairchild, MPC Vice Chair, member of the Great Lakes Small Harbors Coalition and Executive Director of the Saugatuck/Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re very pleased that the state has moved quickly to commit the monies and allow key dredging contracts to be signed and implemented as soon as possible this season.”
The MPC is hosting its 2013 Spring Summit on May 22 at the Lansing Radisson Hotel, where implementation of the state emergency dredging program – as well as long term funding and sustainable access to the Great Lakes – will be discussed.
“Now is the time for us to identify future needs and work to address them,” said Fred Stonehouse, MPC Vice Chair and Marquette City Commissioner. “The momentum for this season’s funding was created by dedicated port leaders working with their elected officials, the Great Lakes Small Harbors Coalition, the MPC and other partners. We must ensure that we make the most of this year’s opportunity, while keeping a keen eye to future challenges and resources needed to meet them.”
MPC recognizes that while this year’s new state emergency funding helps meet a major milestone, recent state appropriations represent only the first leg of a long voyage to achieve of full funding for sustainable marine transport throughout the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System.
Paul LaMarre, a new MPC Board member and Director of the Port of Monroe, said “I applaud the State’s progress – and my colleagues who helped bring it to fruition.” Additionally, LaMarre noted that “We can only maintain the most dynamic inland waterway system in the world with dependable federal harbor maintenance appropriations that sustain the transport of essential regional raw materials that feed our nation.”
The marine transportation industry is socially, environmentally and economically important, MPC board members observed. “In recent weeks, the US Senate has made progress to support full spending of Harbor Maintenance Tax Revenue for its intended purposes – to sustain bulk cargo shipping. We commend Michigan’s US Senators Levin and Stabenow for their leadership on this issue, and we will continue to work for enactment of this long overdue and key federal policy change to protect and grow our region,” Stonehouse summarized.
Press Release, March 27, 2013