Issue Position: Preserving Michigan's Outdoor Heritage
Born in Gladwin and raised in Clare, Michigan's outdoors has always been an important part of Debbie Stabenow's life. Raising her own family in Michigan, she gets how important things like boating, fishing, camping, hunting and snowmobiling are to our way-of-life and to the economic livelihood of so many of our rural and coastal communities. Now in the U.S. Senate, she is fighting to preserve Michigan's outdoor heritage, and the jobs and economic growth it brings to our state.
Preserving Our Great Lakes & Waters
* Making our Great Lakes a Top Priority: The Greats Lakes and Michigan's water resources are a vital part of Michigan's identity and are critical to so many areas of our economy including tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and commercial shipping. Within six months of being elected to the U.S. Senate, Senator Stabenow introduced the Great Lakes Initiative, a comprehensive package to protect the Great Lakes from drilling, invasive species and water diversion. Senator Stabenow continues to sponsor critical legislation to preserve and protect the Great Lakes.
* Authoring the First Federal Ban on Oil and Gas Drilling: The first legislation Senator Stabenow passed as a U.S. Senator was a federal ban on oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes. It was signed into law in 2001 and made permanent in 2005.
* Taking a Stand to Preserve the Mason Tract: Senator Stabenow was a staunch opponent of natural gas drilling adjacent to the Mason Tract in northern Michigan, working with Trout Unlimited to fight the drilling. This pristine area is enjoyed by countless anglers, hikers, skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Supporting Michigan Outdoor Sports and Recreation
* Boating and Fishing Means Jobs: Michigan has nearly one million registered boaters, the most of any state. Recreational boating brings $2 billion annually to Michigan's economy. Nearly 2.5 million anglers fish Michigan waters each year and this industry alone contributes $2 billion annually to our state.
* Leading the fight on Cormorant Control: One major threat to Michigan's commercial and recreational fishing industry is the overpopulation of a bird called the Cormorant. This bird is devastating the perch, brown trout, and small mouth bass populations. Senator Stabenow led the fight to secure the initial funding to combat this problem and since 2003, she has secured $475,000 to help control this destructive bird. Every year she has been successful in increasing the amount of federal funding. The program is in its initial stages and has shown some positive results. Because of the scope of the devastation, Senator Stabenow intends to keep up the fight to secure the additional resources needed to expand control efforts to other areas of our state.
* Maintaining Michigan's Snowmobile Trails: Senator Stabenow supports Michigan snowmobilers and successfully fought for over $2.7 million to keep 150 miles of critical snowmobile trails open for public use in the Western UP. In addition to being a popular recreational activity for Michigan families, snowmobiling is extremely important to Michigan's tourism industry and economy. Michigan has over 6100 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. The economic impact can be measured by the nearly 400,000 snowmobiles registered in Michigan and the fact that the UP is the number one destination for snowmobiling in the world.
* Preserving Our Hunting Habitats: Michigan's nearly one million hunters contribute $2 billion annually to the state's economy, excluding licensing fees. Senator Stabenow joined with Representative Dingell to create the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge to preserve this important fish and bird habitat. The lower Detroit River has an international reputation for duck hunting and fishing. Approximately 300,000 diving ducks stop in the lower Detroit River on their fall migration from Canada and the walleye have helped create an internationally renowned sport fishery estimated to bring in $1 million to the local economy.
* Ensuring Access to our National Forests: Senator Stabenow is advocating on behalf of disabled hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to improve ORV trail access in the Huron-Manistee National Forest.
* Supporting our National Parks: Senator Stabenow has led efforts for funding to maintain and improve campsites, parking and other resources in the Michigan's national parks from the Keweenaw to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Preserving Our Lighthouses & Promoting Tourism
* Maritime History Boosts Tourism: Michigan has a rich maritime history that attracts thousands of visitors every year and boosts the economic vitality of our lakeshore communities. We have over 120 lighthouses (the most of any state), numerous shipwrecks and maritime museums, and the only freshwater National Marine Sanctuary at Thunder Bay. The oldest Michigan lighthouses are over 180 years old, dating back to the 1820's.
* Leading Lighthouse Preservation: In 2005, Senator Stabenow secured a $400,000 grant to restore the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Michigan's oldest lighthouse. She has authored the Michigan Lighthouse and Maritime Heritage Act (Public Law No. 109-436) to help preserve some of Michigan's greatest historical treasures. Senator Stabenow is also the author of the Lester Nichols Presque Isle Light Station Act, S 490, introduced in February 2007, to return the historic glass Fresnel lens to the Presque Isle lighthouse in northern Michigan. The Fresnel lens is important for local tourism and to the historic integrity of the lighthouse and the community.