Advocates ask Congress to spare Great Lakes funds

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- Advocates are lobbying Congress this week to protect a Great Lakes environmental program from across-the-board cuts that will hammer many federal programs unless a budget agreement is reached.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is designed to make progress on some of the region's biggest environmental threats, such as invasive species, toxic pollution hotspots, runoff that causes algae blooms, and disappearing fish and wildlife habitat.

The program has received more than $1 billion since President Barack Obama took office and was expected to get about $300 million in the next fiscal year. But if the automatic cuts take effect, the program's share could fall to about $275 million.

Jeff Skelding of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition says any reductions would make solving the problems more expensive.

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