Grateful for the Great Lakes? Protect them

Saturday’s paper brought us a story that put hard numbers to what most of us already knew: The Great Lakes are great for us.

A study commissioned by the Michigan Port Collaborative found nearly $174 million in economic benefits in Alpena in 2017 from Lake Huron and other waterways, mostly from commercial activities such as shipping into Lafarge North America, but a growing share of benefits coming from tourism.

Specifically, the study found that Lake Huron generated:

∫ $128.3 million in commercial/industrial activity.

∫ $45.5 million in tourism activity.

∫ 1,194 jobs.

∫ $72.2 million in wages.

Researchers dug deeper into the tourism figures and found Lake Huron-related tourism activity included $3.9 million spent in local restaurants, $3.5 million on Alpena-area lodging, $1.9 million in gas sales, and $1.3 million on groceries.

But we shouldn’t take those benefits for granted. Researchers also noted the threat of erosion and of invasive species such as European frog-bit and Asian carp. And we agree fullheartedly with Alpena Harbor Master Don Gilmet, who said the study showed the importance of the public and private sectors partnering to maintain the lakeshores.

If you’re as grateful as we are for our beautiful Great Lakes, we hope you feel as urgently as we do about protecting them. Visit michigan.gov/ogl for more information on what’s being done and how you can help.

(THE ALPENA NEWS)