Drastic EPA budget cuts threaten Great Lakes cleanup efforts

President Trump budget plan would slash funds from $300 million to $10 million

Efforts to clean up the Great Lakes could soon hit a massive speed bump as President Donald Trump's budget plan would slash funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million to $10 million.

The proposed cuts have upset both environmental groups and mayors of cities that rely on the Great Lakes.

The Clinton River spillway project began last year and with the aim of increasing the flood plain and wetland potential for fish habitat.

The project is being funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program started in 2010 that funds state and local projects that combat invasive species, restores wildlife habitats and cleans up watersheds that have been polluted by a rust belt legacy.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative focuses on the areas surrounding the Great Lakes.

Matt Einhueser, an ecologist for the Clinton River Watershed Council, said since the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative went into effect, the 760-square-mile area of the Clinton River watershed has received nearly $40 million in restoration efforts.

Einhueser said the efforts have been essential to the area.

Under Trump's current budget plan, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would be cut by 97 percent. Officials said they don't know what that would mean for the project and others.

"It's sad to hear because this money is very important to the area and to our resources," Einhueser said. "Great work has been done."

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