Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Tina Smith, D-Minn., announced Monday, Dec. 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources a $1.75 million supplemental Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to continue restoration efforts in the St. Louis River estuary area of concern in Lake Superior.

This supplemental grant brings the total restoration initiative investment in the project to $7.77 million and represents a larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes, a news release stated.

"The Great Lakes are a national treasure and vital to the economy and environment in Minnesota and our entire country," Klobuchar stated in the release. “The restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem is estimated to provide $50 billion in long-term economic benefits for the region and this grant will ensure that the restoration of the important Saint Louis River area habitat continues. As one of the vice-chairs of the Great Lakes Task Force, I look forward to continuing this important work to protect the Great Lakes for generations to come."

Smith added: “For thousands of years people have treasured Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes chain. They are important to many — including the Native American communities that have long lived near them and utilized nearby resources, tourists who visit them for outdoor recreation and businesses rely on them for shipping.

“This important funding will help improve 257 acres of aquatic habitat in Lake Superior. Restoring the Great Lakes should be a top priority because it is good for our economy, tourism and natural resources.”

The grant supplements funding for work the DNR began to implement two projects to restore the St. Louis River estuary area of concern. The projects, Grassy Point and Kingsbury Bay, will collectively contribute toward restoration of 257 acres of aquatic habitat and the removal of the associated beneficial use impairment in the area of concern.

In August, Klobuchar joined colleagues on the Senate Great Lakes Task Force to introduce bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and expand funding for the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2019 will reauthorize the intiative, which is set to expire at the end of fiscal year 2021, for another five years. The bill increases the current authorization level from $300 million to $375 million in fiscal year 2022 and increases funding by $25 million per year until it reaches $475 million in fiscal year 2026.