Date: Thursday, May 18, 2023
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz visited Michigan this week to highlight President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. She toured several sites funded by the America the Beautiful Challenge for locally led river restoration and fish barrier removal work. She also joined the Great Lakes Fishery Commission for briefings and site visits throughout the Great Lakes region to discuss cooperative fishery management.
Assistant Secretary Estenoz was recently appointed as one of the first female Commissioners of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Established through the 1954 Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries, the Commission is a binational body that facilitates cross-border cooperation between the United States and Canada to ensure the two nations work together to improve and perpetuate the Great Lakes fishery. Worth more than $7 billion annually, the Great Lakes fishery safeguards commercially important fish populations and sustains economically and socially important elements of Great Lakes ecosystems.
Over the three-day tour, Assistant Secretary Estenoz and members of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission visited Ann Arbor for directorate briefings on fisheries management and sea lamprey control. They also traveled to the Ocqueoc River, Black Mallard River, Hammond Bay, Cheboygan River, and the Sea Lamprey Control Centre in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario, along with other sites, for observation and briefings.
Today, Assistant Secretary Estenoz was in Traverse City to visit multiple dam removal sites funded by a $5 million America the Beautiful Challenge grant. The grant to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will support removal of 27 stream barriers across 14 counties to reconnect nearly 200 upstream miles of rivers and streams and improve climate resiliency, riverine connectivity, aquatic organism passage and eliminate public safety risks.
Across the country, millions of barriers are fragmenting rivers, blocking fish migration, and putting communities at higher risk to flooding. Improving fish passage is one of the most effective ways to help conserve vulnerable species while building safer infrastructure for communities and improving climate resilience. The President’s Investing in America agenda makes historic investments in river restoration and aquatic connectivity through a $200 million boost for the National Fish Passage Program and through multiple other partnership-driven conservation grant programs, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.
The America the Beautiful Challenge is a public-private grant program launched by the Biden-Harris administration last year with an initial $440 million in federal investments for locally led ecosystem restoration projects that invest in watershed restoration, resilience, equitable access, workforce development, corridors and connectivity and collaborative conservation, consistent with the America the Beautiful Initiative.
This visit comes ahead of Endangered Species Day on May 19, and as the Department celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ESA and its importance in preventing imperiled species' extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife and conserving the habitats upon which they depend.