After some Commission business the next day and a half, Great Lakes Day arrived. We started with a breakfast in one of the Senate buildings, which featured speeches from elected officials from across the Great Lakes states and on both sides of the aisle. The senators and representatives discussed their constituents’ priorities and the steps they are taking to protect those priorities. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Rob Portman, co-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, spoke back to back and highlighted bipartisanship as the backbone of the Great Lakes delegation.
|Great Lakes stakeholders at the Congressional Breakfast to kick off Great Lakes Day. Photo: Reilly Manz, Great Lakes Commission|
|Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chairs of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, greet each other between speeches. Photo: Reilly Manz, Great Lakes Commission|
|Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI) close out the Congressional Breakfast. Photo: Reilly Manz, Great Lakes Commission|
One valuable tool that I worked on ahead of Great Lakes Day is our Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) interactive map. Each year, the Sea Grant Fellow works with the GLC’s GIS team to update the GLRI database in preparation for public use. We get data from the EPA on every GLRI project, and then scrub the data for consistency and to link updates to their original project. The GIS team takes it from there to import all of the new information on to the map. This tool is important to show how the GLRI funding is being used in each state, and has congressional district overlays so that elected officials can zoom in to see what projects are occurring closest to home. As Great Lakes funding continues to be at risk, we hope this tool is a helpful way of displaying the value of the GLRI.