Southwest Michigan harbors scheduled for $1.5 million in emergency dredging

LANSING—State Rep. Al Pscholka and state Sen. John Proos are pleased that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Emergency Dredging Plan includes a proposed $105,000 for the St. Joseph West Basin Marina harbor, $1 million for the New Buffalo Municipal Marina and $436,050 for the South Haven Municipal Marina.

The DNR 2013 Emergency Dredging Initiative includes a harbor-by-harbor proposal of funding requests from the state along with a detailed approach to improve harbors around Michigan.

“Dredging has been an issue I have been working on for years, and this is a first step in the right direction,” said Pscholka, R-Stevensville. “While St. Joseph is on the list, we need to continue to work with the department and others to make sure our harbors are safe, useful and productive. Shipping on the Great Lakes saves hard-working consumers millions of dollars compared to trucking those materials on our roads.”

The DNR plan requests that the money be appropriated from the Waterways Fund and a portion from the general fund. The DNR is also looking to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government to give supplemental funding.

“As a member of the Senate Waterways Caucus, I am a long-time advocate of maintaining both public and private harbors,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Properly maintaining our harbors is critical to the economic viability and the financial bottom line of shippers and importers and to the success of the growing tourism in Southwest Michigan.”

The DNR has promised that it will waive the requirement that local governments match the funds appropriated to them by the state and will immediately contact communities that have been identified to receive zero-match Waterways grant emergency-dredging monies.

“As co-chair of the bipartisan Waterways Caucus, I look forward to working toward long-term solutions to this important part of our infrastructure,” Pscholka said. “Shipping and recreational boating has a multi-million-dollar impact on our region and is connected to economic development and job creation.”

In order for the funds to be distributed to the appropriate municipalities and utilized, the Michigan Legislature will first have to concur with the governor’s recommendation that $21 million be spent for the purpose of dredging.

“Sustaining a healthy harbor and finding long-term solutions to our dredging needs is important on several fronts,” Proos said. “It supports Southwest Michigan jobs in an increasingly global economy, fosters entrepreneurship and protects our state’s great natural resources.”

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