Higgins Discusses New Report Confirming Economic Gains From Federal Great Lakes Investments
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) this week discussed a new report from the University of Michigan on the success of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The GLRI was launched in 2010 with $2.5 billion in funding from Congress. Since then, more than 3,600 projects have been completed that encompass more than 180,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat. The study notes that the initiative has improved environmental conditions, home values, economic activity, and more in the areas where it has invested in projects.
Congressman Higgins said about the report: “Just a few decades ago, the Buffalo River was declared biologically dead because of industrial dumping of toxic waste into the river. Today, as a result of cleanup efforts and investments made by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, not only have we restored the habitats of local species and brought our waterways back to life, but the progress has inspired economic development on Buffalo’s waterfront that many thought they wouldn’t see in their lifetimes.”
The GLRI has invested $71 million in projects in Buffalo, including dredging of over 550,000 cubic cards, invasive species removal, wildlife habitat restoration, and more. The new study shows that each federal dollar invested in Buffalo will yield $4 in additional economic activity, a higher rate than the average of $3.35 across all the GLRI areas. The work has contributed to the growth of Buffalo’s waterfront, including destinations like Canalside and Riverworks, new apartments, and recreational options. Visitors to the waterfront have gone from just 150,000 in 2010, the first year of the GLRI program, to over 1.5 million in 2016.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative cleanup efforts that contributed to the Buffalo River’s restoration have been supported and conducted by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Lakes Commission, Citizens Campaign for the Environment and others.
The Buffalo segment from the study can be read here.