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Huizenga: GVSU Study Shows Massive Economic Benefits For Muskegon County From Great Lakes Restoration Efforts

Washington, August 11, 2020

Today, Congressman Bill Huizenga released the following statement after Grand Valley State University released new research detailing the economic benefits of restoration efforts at Muskegon Lake. The study found efforts led by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative have increased recreational activity by $27.9 million annually. The study also found that the number of visitors to Muskegon Lake has increased by an estimated 485,000 people annually, significant property value increases, and an annual increase of 4% in recreational spending across Muskegon County.

“This latest research done by Grand Valley State University provides even greater evidence that cleaning up legacy pollution and restoring the Great Lakes watershed is not only good for the environment, it is incredibly positive for the local economy as well,” said Congressman Bill Huizenga, who serves as Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has played a critical role in restoring Muskegon Lake and turning a once toxic hotspot into a source of recreation and economic opportunity for families across Muskegon County to enjoy.”

In 2018, Congressman Huizenga discussed how the removal of over 50,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Muskegon Lake would benefit the ecology as well as the economy of Muskegon County. As Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force, Congressman Huizenga has led the fight to preserve, protect, and restore the Great Lakes in Congress and has spearheaded bipartisan efforts to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as well as extend and increase the effectiveness of the program. 

Highlights of the study Include:

An estimated 485,000 additional annual visits to the lake following restoration, an 11 percent increase

People who visited the lake before restoration now visit two to four times more per season

The total value of increased home values due to shoreline restoration was estimated at $7.9 million

The total value of additional recreation following restoration was estimated at $27.9 million annually

The additional recreational spending represents an estimated 4 percent increase annually for Muskegon County

In 1985, Muskegon Lake had been listed on the EPA’s Area of Concern list and identified as a toxic hotspot. Until restoration was undertaken, historic sawmill debris, foundry sand and slag filled 798 acres, or 25%, of Muskegon Lake’s open water and emergent wetlands and 74% of the shoreline was hardened with wood pilings, sheet metal and concrete. The NOAA-GLC partnership recently completed and is currently working on projects to remove nearly 26 acres of sediment and mill debris, create and soften 7000 feet of shoreline, re-establish fish passage, and hydrologically reconnect and restore more than 65 acres of emergent wetlands and 44 acres of open water wetlands. This restoration will provide habitat for native fish, turtles, frogs, songbirds, mammals, migrating birds and waterfowl including native lake bottom communities.

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