A battle over how to pay for emergency harbor dredging is brewing in Lansing. Environmental groups are criticizing plans to tap the state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund. They say it would threaten the state’s ability to buy and improve parks and public land.
Hugh McDiarmid of the Michigan Environmental Council admits record-low water levels in the Great Lakes mean emergency dredging is necessary. But he says there are better ways to pay for it than raiding the Natural Resources Trust Fund.
"Diverting money to dredge harbors would hurt communities around the state who wouldn’t have that money available for their parks and their recreational facilities,” McDiarmid says.
McDiarmid says long-term harbor maintenance costs could drain the fund completely.
Republican lawmakers have introduced bills that would identify dredging as a proper use for that money.
Governor Rick Snyder is asking for more than $20 million for emergency harbor dredging in his proposed budget. That money would not come out of the Natural Resources Trust Fund.