I have blogged about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) several times. This is the largest investment into our Great Lakes in two decades and is a five-year plan to fund programs to improve the health of our lakes. The funding targets five specific areas:
Cleaning up toxics and areas of concern
Combating invasive species
Promoting nearshore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off
Restoring wetlands and other habitats
Working with partners on outreach
With the stalled economy, this ambitious program has been scaled back in the budget each of the years it has been included thus far. Still, it is doing a lot of good on many levels in the Great Lakes Region.
On August 23, the EPA announced that the GLRI is setting aside $6 million for federal agencies to sign up unemployed workers to complete projects "in federally-protected areas, on tribal lands and in Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin."
"These projects will help to restore the Great Lakes and put Americans back to work," said EPA Great Lakes National Program Manager and Regional Administrator Susan hedman. "In a sense, we will be using these funds to create a small-scale 21st century Civilian Conservation Corps."
This complex approach to a complex set of problems will benefit the Great Lakes Region on many levels. As I've mentioned before, the Brookings Institution (a nonpartisan group) estimated that for every $1 invested in the GLRI will give back $2 to the region.
This benefit must actually increase if the GLRI is used to employ the unemployed in the region. Those wages will be taxed in the region supporting schools, roads, and other community services. Those wages will be spent in the region supporting local businesses.
Contact your represenatives in support of the GLRI, and learn more about the program and the projects it funds HERE.
The book tour took me to NW Michigan in mid-August.
A big thanks to the bookstores that hosted me along the way and to the indie booksellers who recommended A 1000-MILE WALK ON THE BEACH to their patrons, and to their patrons who told
friends and family about the book.
When people ask me about my favorite stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline, I answer without hesitation:
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore!
Well, it's no longer a secret because it was just voted the most beautiful place in AMERICA by viewers of Good Morning America!
I hope this honor encourages the Great Lakes States (and the nation) to protect and preserve Lake Michigan and the entire Great Lakes system. Funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is an important step in this direction.
We have a national treasure here and it needs our attention and protection so it remains "The Most Beautiful Place in America"!
Efforts to clean up the Kalamazoo River continue one year after a leaking oil pipeline allowed over 800,000 gallons of crude oil to spill into the Kalamazoo River. For weeks following the spill, my home town of Battle Creek smelled of the thick, crude oil for weeks. People living near the origin of the spill had to leave their homes due to the smell and toxic effects of the spill.
The EPA is overseeing the clean-up. Here are the stats to help put it in perspective:
766,000 gallons of oil have been recovered
15 million gallons of oil/water mix have been recovered and disposed of
93,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil/debris have been disposed of
19,500 feet of boom have been deployed on the river
clean-up has cost $25.7 million so far
245 workers involved in these efforts
You may think that since I am such a big fan and patron of the indie bookstores that I was glad to see the Borders bookstore chain undergoing liquidation.
Not so. It is always a negative for a community when a bookstore closes
whether it be a chain or indie.
And Borders began as an indie in Ann Arbor near where I lived for many years.
I read an essay in The Northville Record about going to the liquidation sale.
People were lining up to buy books at 10-20% off.
LINING UP. Where were these people when Borders was in trouble?
Do I need to give the statistics about how spending money in your community improves your community because your money stays there, the jobs stay there,
and the tax base stays healthy in your community?
Think about it.
Think about it before you buy online. Think about it before you buy from Amazon.com. Think about the fact that your kids need places to work during their summers and those jobs need to be in your community.
If we don't think about it, we will lose our bookstores and small shops.
We'll wake one day to towns with only Walmart and McDonalds.
And we'll wonder what happened...
unless we THINK ABOUT IT.
I hope that the indies get a boost of support and love from their communities, and maybe even a few indies will emerge to fill the void left by the demise of Borders.
On this National Lighthouse day (first established in 1789), I'd like to share some photos I took while on my adventure.
Seeing these sentinels on the lakeshore was always a welcome sight as I walked. I can imagine that they were a comforting beacon to early lake travelers. There are many preservation groups working to maintain and conserve these historic lights. And there are several around the lake that seek out the help of volunteers.
I spent a week working at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse (below) in November 2009. It was fun to stay in the keepers' house and to climb the light tower to watch the sunset every evening. I worked in the gift shop and helped to get the buildings ready for the harsh winter and raked leaves. It was a great week and I met some wonderful people who also have a bond with this important part of our Great Lakes heritage.
Visit YOUR favorite lighthouse this summer and see what YOU can do to help preserve it. To learn more about this special day for lighthouses, click HERE.
The book tour took me all over the region in July. The final week of the month had me heading Up North once again.
A big thanks to the bookstores and libraries who hosted me along the way and to the indie booksellers who recommended A 1000-MILE WALK ON THE BEACH to their patrons, and to their patrons who told friends and family about the book.
July has been a great month for the book, and you are all part of its success!