AWRI hosts U.S. Senator Gary Peters on tour of Muskegon Lake

U.S Senator Gary Peters looks over Muskegon Lake
U.S. Senator Gary Peters, left, looks over Muskegon Lake as he takes a ride aboard the W.G. Jackson. Peters starts his annual statewide motorcycle tour August 29.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

MUSKEGON — Before embarking on his annual statewide motorcycle tour, U.S. Senator Gary Peters headed out onto Muskegon Lake. 

Peters, a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, received a tour of Muskegon Lake on Aug. 29 to understand the remediation and research efforts of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Grand Valley’s Annis Water Resources Institute.  

Alan Steinman, the AWRI’s Allen and Helen Hunting Research Professor, Muskegon Mayor Ken Johnson and local economic organizations joined Peters aboard the AWRI’s research vessel, the W.G. Jackson, showing him the lake’s progression.

The efforts of the GLRI will receive a significant boost, due to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden in February. The law will provide a $1 billion investment into the cleanup and preservation of the Great Lakes, including nine high-priority areas like Muskegon Lake which flow into the Great Lakes. 

“The investments made through the GLRI are not only cleaning up Areas of Concern like Muskegon Lake, but also helping to preserve the undisturbed iconic areas of the Great Lakes that we all cherish and wish to remain pristine for generations,” Steinman said. 

U.S. Senator Gary Peters gets a tour of Muskegon Lake
Alan Steinman, the Allen and Helen Hunting Research Professor, left, talks with U.S. Senator Gary Peters, right, aboard the W.G. Jackson captained by Eric Hecox, AWRI fleet captain, foreground.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

From the bow of the W.G. Jackson, Steinman pointed out to Peters an observatory buoy which monitors the lake’s health and provides real-time data to researchers back at the AWRI. 

“We’re extremely proud that our AWRI has been able to provide the scientific expertise that has helped to bring Muskegon back to ecological health and with it economic prosperity and a revitalized community that now exudes pride,” Steinman said. 

The tour gave Peters insight not only into AWRI’s work, but also how the GLRI’s remediation efforts are building economic development. In his post-tour news conference, Peters discussed the project involving the redevelopment of the former Sappi paper mill site on the lake’s southern shore. 

A $15 million state grant will help with the cleanup of toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” at the location and with the development of residential, commercial and recreation sites.

“Grand Valley has a commitment to making sure the Great Lakes continue to stay vibrant and clean for generations,” Peters said. “The financial investment they have made here is substantial. 

“The W.G. Jackson tour was wonderful. It was an opportunity to see firsthand the transformation that’s occurring on Muskegon Lake, which is really phenomenal, particularly over the last decade. Grand Valley has been a big part of that.”

U.S. Senator Gary Peters talks with members of the media.
U.S. Senator Gary Peters speaks with members of the media at a news conference following his tour of Muskegon Lake on Aug. 29.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills


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