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Great Lakes Article:

1.5 million targeted to repair harbor
By John Pepin
The Mining Journal
Journal Munising Bureau
Published November 9, 2005

 

GRAND MARAIS - More than $5.7 million in federal funding was approved Tuesday for an extensive list of northern Michigan projects, including $1.5 million for Grand Marais Harbor breakwater replacement..

Under the fiscal year 2006 Energy and Water Appropriations bill voted on Tuesday by the House of Representatives, the Grand Marais Harbor will receive more than $1.5 million toward a $6 million breakwater replacement project.

The final version of the bill voted on Tuesday was reported from a conference committee made up of both House and Senate members. The bill will now go to President Bush for his signature.

The money for the harbor project was the largest local allocation from the funding package. A battle to save the harbor from ruin has been ongoing for decades.

"(The) $1.543 million is indeed a significant first step, particularly with competing pressure on government funding for (Hurricane) Katrina, homeland security and the war," said Burt Township Supervisor Lee Durrwachter.

"I was told it would never happen. 'Don't expect it.' But this time it felt different," he said. "A lot of hard work went into this effort with a lot of different people contributing as a chorus of one: Save Our Harbor of Refuge."

Activists and local government officials in Grand Marais have already begun efforts to find additional funding sources for the remaining money needed. Replacing the breakwater will block sand infiltration into the once-deep-water port.

A deep harbor at Grand Marais will allow the port to remain a recreational venue and harbor of refuge for small and large boats, while possibly attracting Great Lakes cruise ships.

Other local projects funded in the bill include $140,000 for Marquette shoreline protection, $200,000 for the city of Negaunee's wastewater treatment plant, $500,000 for fuel cell research at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, $250,000 for St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba and $1.5 million for a lock replacement project at the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie.

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) worked with conferees to secure the funding for the Michigan projects.

"I'm pleased to see so many of the important projects in northern Michigan were funded in the final Energy and Water appropriations bill," Stupak said. "These projects are vital to the safety and economy of the local community. Without funding for projects such as harbor maintenance, breakwater protections and the upkeep of our critically needed Soo Locks, these rural communities could face floods, watercraft wrecks and the inability to ship products."

Additional projects funded under the bill include $400,000 for Menominee Harbor maintenance and dredging, $333,000 for Keweenaw Waterway maintenance, $300,000 for Ontonagon Harbor maintenance $184,000 for Ontonagon Harbor channel extension and $50,000 for the east breakwater on Mackinac Island.

The bill also included money for three downstate projects and more regional efforts including $2 million for surveillance of the Northern Boundary waters and $1.3 million for Great Lakes navigation system study investigations.

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