President Donald Trump is trying to cut funds for the Great Lakes for the third time.
The president’s 2020 budget includes cutting $270 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
“We are always now in a waiting and see what happens kind of a mode with that,” said Boyd Byelich, conservationist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Byelich is also part of a federal program called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The GLRI is the target of deep cuts by Trump.
His proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 slashes GLRI funding by 90 percent, from $300 million to $30 million.
Byelich is not taking a stance on Trump’s budget proposal but did talk about how much good the GLRI brings to the area.
“Implementing practices on the land that end up helping keep the water clean, healthy for people for recreational purposes, for fisheries, other users of the water resource,” Byelich said.
The reaction from Michigan lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican, has been overwhelmingly against the cuts.
U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee said the president’s budget threatens the health of our lakes and jeopardizes Michigan’s economy. The Great Lakes generate billions of dollars in economic activity and support 1.5 million good paying jobs in tourism, boating and fishing industries.
Meanwhile, U.S. Congressman John Moolenaar said last year he worked across the aisle on the appropriations committee to fund vital priorities including the opioid crisis, rural broadband access, and fully funding the GLRI. He said he looks forward to continuing this important work as Congress debates federal funding for 2020.
As for Byelich, he questions what would happen if 90 percent of GLRI’s money disappears.
“Just the shear tons of sediment that it’s now kept on the land and the tons of fertilizers that are not being used now that once were that were ending up in the water systems and they now aren’t. It makes you wonder is that going to change if we don’t have that funding,” Byelich said.