GREAT LAKES FISH AND WILDLIFE RESTORATION ACT -- (Senate - July 13, 2006)
Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I am very pleased that the Senate has passed the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, S. 2430. My colleague from Michigan, Senator Levin, and I believe that this legislation will provide the resources and authority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the States, and the tribes to restore fish and wildlife in the Great Lakes.
The program has support from the States, tribes, and nongovernmental groups because it is a good management tool. Over 140 fish species and over 500 species of migratory birds can be found in the basin. The Great Lakes population has been growing, and like many coastal areas, there is a large concentration of people and industry on the coasts. Further, the Great Lakes are threatened by the continuing introduction of invasive species which impact the native food chain and habitat.
The fish and wildlife in the Great Lakes are under pressure, and the Great Lakes Fish & Wildlife Restoration Act of 2006 provides needed resources and authority. For instance, the bill would reauthorize the grant program, increasing the amount available for grants to $12 million and add wildlife projects to the types of projects that may receive grants. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would award grants based on the recommendations from the existing grant proposal review committee, though wildlife experts would be added to this committee.
The bill also authorizes up to $6 million each year for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to undertake projects that have a regional benefit to fish and wildlife. Under this new authority, the Service would undertake projects based on the recommendations of States and tribes.
This bill reflects the collaboration of nongovernmental groups, as well as tribal, State, and Federal agencies with jurisdiction over the management of fish and wildlife resources of the Great Lakes. All of those groups have the goal of protecting and restoring the Great Lakes fish and wildlife, and this bill will continue in the right direction. I thank all of these groups for their work in shaping this bill.
I also thank the staff at the Environment and Public Works Committee, particularly Nathan Richmond and Jo-Ellen Darcy. I understand that Nathan's work in preparing this bill for markup was interrupted by the early arrival of his first child, so I appreciate the staff work involved in moving this bill