Summer in Michigan’s Great Outdoors

Summer officially begins on Monday, June 20. With the summer solstice around the corner — and most children already out on summer break — the Michigan Senate Republicans encourage residents to get outdoors this summer and enjoy Michigan’s natural wonders.

June is National Great Outdoors Month, and Michigan offers residents the chance to celebrate our great outdoors to the fullest extent.

In our great state, you can bike on more than 1,300 miles of dedicated trails, kayak over 36,000 miles of streams and rivers or explore all 3,288 miles of Michigan’s Great Lakes coastline. Michigan is also home to the second most number of campgrounds in the nation, over 11,000 inland lakes and more than 80 state and national parks.

It’s easy to see that there is something in Michigan for everyone to enjoy this summer!

We are blessed to have amazing natural resources in Michigan. We are surrounded and defined by the Great Lakes — the largest surface freshwater system in the world. How much water is that? Well, the five Great Lakes and their connecting waters hold six quadrillion gallons of water — enough to cover the entire U.S. with water more than seven feet deep.

We don’t have to travel far to see the largest concentration of freshwater sand dunes in the world along Lake Michigan, with some dunes reaching 250 feet in high and up to one mile wide.

Michigan’s more than 19 million acres of forests cover more than half the land area of the state and contain more than 75 different types of trees. Our forests are home to an abundance of plants and animals, including moose, bear, wolves, deer, and one of the rarest birds in the world, the Kirtland’s warbler.

For any Michigan family heading outdoors to splash in the water, camp in the woods or simply to have fun in the sun, one thing is clear: Nothing beats a Pure Michigan summer!

For a list of ideas on how you can enjoy Michigan’s natural beauty, please visit: www.Michigan.org/Outdoors.

Urging action in fight against Asian carp

The Michigan Senate Natural Resources Committee considers legislation that affects us all. The committee has been referred bills to protect the Great Lakes and our inland lakes and rivers; bills that would strengthen environmental protections; and bills to protect wildlife.

On Earth Day 2016, it is an appropriate time to consider a resolution the committee worked on to help protect our waters and environment against a critical threat.

Senate Resolution 12, as approved by the Senate, is the latest of a series of measures advocating for the federal government to take a more aggressive role in protecting the Great Lakes from a potential Asian carp invasion that could jeopardize jobs in a $7 billion fishing industry and $9 billion recreational boating industry.

The state of Michigan, surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, is literally defined by the lakes. Consequently, the health of our economy and quality of life are intertwined with the health of the lakes.

Asian carp are an acute threat to the Great Lakes. The environmental and economic impact of these fish if they get into the Great Lakes would be catastrophic.

The Chicago Area Waterway System, connecting the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems, is a major pathway for aquatic invasive species (AIS) to spread between the two systems. Zebra mussels used this pathway to spread from the Great Lakes, leading to millions of dollars in annual control costs for industries and public utilities. Now, Asian carp stand poised to use this pathway to invade the Great Lakes.

A permanent, long-term solution to this problem must be identified and implemented. The problem of Asian carp and other AIS using this man-made connection is not going away and will not resolve itself.

The Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee was formed in May 2014 with the goal of reaching consensus on short- and long-term measures to prevent Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Thirty-four representatives from government; industry; and commercial, recreational and environmental groups came together to solve this pressing problem.

SR 12 supports the advisory committee’s recommendations to prevent Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan.

Previous resolutions approved by the Senate Natural Resources Committee also urged Congress and President Obama to expeditiously evaluate all options, including hydrologic and ecological separation, while minimizing impacts on transportation and then implement those measures.

We need action to help prevent a disaster that would decimate our vibrant fishing, tourism and boating industries and wreak havoc on the ecosystems of the Great Lakes and all its rivers.

There are no perfect long-term solutions to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, but leaving the lakes vulnerable is the costliest option.