U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, was among the congressmen and women reintroducing legislation that would update the ecological mapping of the Great Lakes.
On Tuesday, May 7, several congressional leaders introduced legislation that called for the remapping of the Great Lakes environmental sensitivity index, or ESI. ESI is used to map information about coastal shoreline sensitivity, biological resources like species and natural habitats and human resources such as boats and piers.
The legislation has bipartisan support. Along with Huizenga, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan; Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana; Michigan Democrat Reps. Debbie Dingell and Dan Kildee as well as David Joyce, R-Ohio, all sponsored the bill.
The Great Lakes ESI has not been updated in over 20 years. An updated ESI allows authorities like the National Ocean Service to monitor bodies of water and their shorelines for natural disasters and other damages. Authorities can also learn more about endangered species and the threats facing them through the ESI.
Huizenga addressed having an up-to-date ESI in a press release.
“Whether it is responding to rapidly evolving events such as a natural disaster or planning long term projects such as habitat restoration, we need to have reliable and accurate information available,” Huizenga said. “Having up to date ESI maps are vital to correctly identifying vulnerable locations and establishing priorities to properly protect Michigan residents as well as the Great Lakes ecosystem.”
If the Great Lakes ESI bill passes, the Great Lakes will join the east and west coast as well as the gulf coast shoreline in having updated ESI.