Many shallow draft harbors used by Lake Erie’s recreational boaters and charter fishing fleet are sorely in need of dredging and infrastructure maintenance to be continually safe and reliable. However, current funding for such projects is dependent on Congressional "earmarks," and is therefore inconsistent. In an effort to change this system, the Great Lakes Small Harbors Coalition (GLSHC) is asking local port authorities, municipalities, and coastal townships to adopt a resolution that will be used to petition the federal government for sustainable, needs-based funding.
To read and sign onto the resolution, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu/smallharbors/vision , a new website launched to increase awareness of the GLSHC. Copy the resolution text onto your official letterhead and send completed copies to Chuck May at firstname.lastname@example.org or 3180 Crescent Beach Rd., Manistee, MI 49660. Voicing support for this measure increases the chances that the needs of small harbors will be heard.
"The economic impact of small harbors, especially marinas and recreational boating, should not be underestimated," says Colleen Wellington, Ohio Sea Grant Extension Educator and Coordinator for the Ohio Clean Marinas Program. "More people are returning to boating as the economy picks up, and it is important that marinas are accessible. To make an event greater impact, marinas are also encouraged to become Certified Clean Marinas, which assists these operators in protecting the resources that provide their livelihood: clean water and fresh air."
The Great Lakes Small Harbors Coalition was created in November 2007 to represent these commercial and small harbors, as well as their surrounding communities and patrons. Under the GLSHC banner, harbors, advocate organizations, legislators, and state and local agencies from throughout the Great Lakes region are working together to promote harbor projects and ensure sustainable federal funding. Ohio Sea Grant, like many other Great Lakes Sea Grant programs, is working to increase awareness of dredging issues, safe boating access needs, and the Shallow Harbor Coalition.
Through its efforts, the coalition envisions an annual dedicated appropriation that maintains Great Lakes harbor navigation channels and infrastructure requirements; and ongoing recognition and support for harbors that will maximize their economic benefit, enhance quality of life, and protect public safety.
For more information, visit ohioseasgrant.osu.edu/smallharbors .