Big Sable Point Lighthouse on Lake Michigan

Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin voted in support of a program that aims to protect and preserve the Great Lakes, saying it would help fund the state’s future economy.

The legislation reauthorized the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and increased its funding by 60% over five years. By fiscal 2026, funding will reach $475 million. 

“In Michigan, we are the stewards of the Great Lakes, because they are the backbone of our economy and our way of life,” Slotkin said in a statement. “We may not always think about it when we’re enjoying our beautiful lakes, but protecting and maintaining our Great Lakes takes investment and commitment — and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been instrumental over the years in keeping our lakes clean and safe in order to power our state and our economy.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was created in 2010. According to Slotkin’s office, the program has helped protect and preserve the Great Lakes, which provide about 90% of the United States’ fresh surface water and support over 3,500 species of plants and animals. 

The initiative also restored 50,000 acres of coastal wetlands in the region, and doubled farmland acres with nutrient conservation. Preserving the lakes also helps the local economy by providing well over a million jobs and generates $62 billion in wages each year. 

“All of this progress has resulted in economic returns of more than 3-to-1 across the region,” Slotkin’s office wrote in a statement

The House the bill that passed was backed by 27 Democratic and 22 Republican co-sponsors. The legislation now heads to the Senate.