Senator Proos Blasts White House Inaction on Asian Carp

WSJM – RadioSilverhead Asian Carp

State Senator John Proos is putting the blame for the discovery of environmental DNA from invasive silver carp in the Kalamazoo River squarely on the shoulders of the Obama administration. The St. Joseph Republican says there has been “consistent inaction” by the White House that has resulted in the species of Asian carp to “inch closer to destroying our vital Southwest Michigan waterways.”

Proos joins Congressman Fred Upton in noting the carp, if they were to get established in the Great Lakes, threaten a $4 billion fishing and tourism industry. He adds he’s continuing to push for the closure of the Chicago locks to separate that city’s water system from Lake Michigan in order to prevent the invasive fish from getting in.

Speaking to WSJM News, Proos blasted delays by the Obama administration on separating the Chicago River system from the Great Lakes.

The Department of Natural Resources notes that just because eDNA was found in one sample from 400 taken this summer, they have no evidence there are actually silver carp in the rivers that feed the Great Lakes. Another 200 samples were taken on Tuesday, and those are now being tested.

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Announcing my Bid for Re-Election to the State Senate in Michigan’s Great Southwest

Proos_Dowagiac DailyEarlier today I announced my candidacy for the 21st Michigan State Senate seat in Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties.
Michigan is turning around, but I believe there is more work to be done to put Michigan back on solid footing.  I will continue to focus my efforts on creating an environment that fosters jobs for our families, welcoming new businesses and investing in a world class education system to prepare our children to fill the economic opportunities right here in Southwest Michigan.

The 21st State Senate district will change after the 2014 election from the counties of Van Buren, Cass and Berrien to Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph.

I would like to earn the support and vote of individuals and families in Southwest Michigan as I continue to fight for the common-sense values we hold dear.  Vital to the success of Southwest Michigan and our families are the expansion of infrastructure through broadband networks, ensuring the safety of our communities through proper funding of police and fire services and protecting our precious natural resources.
I ask for your support in Michigan’s primary election on August 5th, 2014 and in the general election, November 4, 2014.
Some of the first term initiatives that I have been proud to work on include:

•    Working to eliminate the fraud waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars, finding efficiencies totaling about 120 million dollars.
•    Improving access to career and technical education for our students through legislation to facilitate flow of information between students, families, schools, the Department of Education, community organizations and businesses.
•    Instituting new point-of-sale computer system designed to stop meth dealers from buying large amounts of ephedrine/pseudoephedrine at pharmacies.
•    Initiating the first proposal to fund our roads since John Engler was Governor.  My legislation dedicated $100 million of unallocated sales tax money, already paid at the gas pump toward Michigan’s infrastructure.
•    Sponsoring legislation to rehabilitate criminals before they are huge expense to society through the swift and sure program available to county courts.
•    Facilitated a new program to connect hunters with farmers looking to protect their land from crop damage.
•    Pushing to give Michigan businesses priority in applying for state contracts whenever possible.
•    Supports the eradication of invasive species from our precious natural resources.

During my tenure in the state legislature I have served over 9,000 individuals, families and businesses in Southwest Michigan who have asked for assistance.  I consider the ability to help so many cut through government red tape as one of my greatest accomplishments.

Swim With Caution; Proper Water Safety Could Save Your Life

Following the hottest July on record, many Southwest Michigan families are heading to the lake or to the local swimming pool to beat the heat.

Swimming is a fun, healthy activity, and our state has an abundance of swimming opportunities with more than 11,000 inland lakes, more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and a countless number of pools.

But with these opportunities come a certain amount of risk. If you head out to the water this summer, please take the necessary precautions to make it a safe trip, including taking swimming lessons, following safety guidelines and looking out for powerful rip currents.

As a former lifeguard, I know that our waters are not to be feared, but respected. The Great Lakes are some of our greatest treasures, but they also pose one of our greatest dangers.

The Great Lakes are not known for rip currents, but their riptides can be deadly. Riptides were cited as the main cause of more than 25 percent of the 87 drownings in the Great Lakes last year, and Lake Michigan’s currents claimed 17 lives in 2010.

The danger was recently made tragically clear. A well-known and respected Chicago pediatric surgeon was vacationing with his family in Lakeside. He saw two boys struggling in Lake Michigan, went to their aid and saved their lives. But sadly, he was then caught in the lake’s rip current and drowned. The death of a 41-year-old Illinois man off Tiscornia Beach was also determined to have been a result of riptides.

Before heading out onto the lake or to a local pool, please remember that taking swimming lessons, using proper safety precautions and checking beach and water conditions for riptides will help ensure a fun time and may even save your life.

Legislation to Help Keep Beaches, Lakes Cleaner

Niles Daily Star

Lakeshore property owners will have more freedom to properly maintain their beaches under legislation expected to be signed soon by the governor, said Sen. John Proos.

“Southwest Michigan is blessed with miles of beautiful sandy beaches that attract millions of visitors and are key to a tourist industry that supports thousands of families and local small businesses,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Removing costly government interference – that only inhibits the maintenance of our beaches – is a victory for everyone. It will enhance private property rights and result in beaches that are cleaner and safer for families and tourists to enjoy.”

Low water levels in 1999 exposed many Great Lakes beaches, which were quickly overrun with invasive plants and other weeds. State policy at the time was to prevent landowners from grooming their beaches to remove plants or prevent them from growing without a permit.

Senate Bill 1052 would eliminate certain Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) restrictions about how beach maintenance can be done. Property owners with sandy beaches would no longer need to get a permit from the DEQ for beach grooming activities, although some activities may still be subject to federal regulation.

“Allowing landowners to maintain their beaches will help increase outdoor activities and protect a vibrant tourism industry,” Proos said. “I supported this common-sense reform because it also achieves a balance between recreation and conservation. Eliminating unnecessary restrictions on property owners will enable them to keep their beaches sandy and open for use while enlisting their aid in stopping invasive species from taking hold in Michigan.”

Under SB 1052, owners of sandy beaches would not need a DEQ permit to remove vegetation and debris on the section of their beaches between the normal high-water mark and the water’s edge. Construction projects and digging of channels or dredging below the ordinary high-water mark would still be subject to a state permit.

“This will not affect a beachgoer’s ability to walk along the beach between the high-water line and the water’s edge,” Proos said. “In fact, it will improve that freedom by allowing landowners to maintain and clean that area of the beach.”

Federal Inaction Puts Great Lakes at Risk

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling and continued inaction by the Obama Administration to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes are endangering the lakes.

Asian carp currently are at the threshold of Lake Michigan.  If allowed to invade the Great Lakes, they will surely continue to our inland lakes and streams and their impact will be permanent and catastrophic.

Asian carp would cause billions of dollars in lost economic activity and wipe out thousands of jobs – with Southwest Michigan the first area affected. Unfortunately, the special interests of one community, joined by inaction by federal officials, are putting at risk the future of the Great Lakes and the livelihood of everyone in the region.

Great Lakes commercial, recreational and sport fishing is a $7 billion industry, and our recreational boating industry is worth $9 billion.

In addition to ravaging a vibrant fishing industry, Asian carp would decimate tourism and boating in Southwest Michigan, costing us jobs and endangering our way of life.

I sponsored a Senate Concurrent Resolution 18 last year. Adopted in September 2011, it urged decisive congressional action to prevent a disaster.

I once again implore the federal government to close the O’Brien Lock and Dam in the Chicago Waterway System until a long-term solution is identified and enacted. The risk of inaction is too great.

By the time federal bureaucrats finish a planned study in 2015 on what to do, it may already be too late.

When it comes to this invasive fish, we do not have the luxury of time.

Have a Fun, Safe Time on the Water this Independence Day Weekend

If you head out to the water this Independence Day weekend, please take necessary precautions to make it a safe trip.  Michigan’s lakes are some of our greatest treasures, but they also pose one of our greatest dangers. 

Although the Great Lakes are not known for deadly rip currents, 30 people drowned in their undertow last year. Lake Michigan’s currents claimed 17 lives in 2010 and have been identified as one of the most dangerous rip current zones.

Rip currents are hazardous to all beachgoers and can sweep away even   the strongest swimmer.

I recently testified before the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee about the need for uniformity in beach safety warnings, especially concerning rip currents.

Currently, there are many different warning systems in use by different municipalities; which can be confusing and even dangerous for people who visit multiple beaches.

Shortly, I will be introducing legislation which would have  Michigan join states like Florida that utilize a statewide, flag-based warning system that is consistent and easy for swimmers to understand.  I would also like our state to provide a website where individuals can check the condition of the beaches from home.

As a former lifeguard, I know that our lakefront is not to be feared, but respected. Everyone should enjoy Michigan’s lakes, pools and streams, but also remember that taking swimming lessons and always using proper precautions can help ensure a fun, safe time.

Discover Michigan’s Natural Beauty

Springtime in Michigan is finally here.  After a long winter, the flowers are in bloom, the days are warm and the nights are cool.

As many of you plan your summer getaways, I encourage you to look at the numerous outdoor recreational opportunities our great state has to offer.

Whether you are discovering Michigan’s natural beauty at one of our state parks or on one of our gorgeous beaches, you can connect with your family, have fun and support the local economy all at the same time.

Michigan’s backyard offers world-class fishing, boating and camping. And by enjoying the state’s outdoors, you help support Michigan’s tourism industry and the thousands of small business job providers and families who depend on it.

To help you with your vacation plans, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has valuable, user-friendly information online at: www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails.

The site includes a map of state campgrounds and parks and links to resources like campsite amenities and an online reservation page.

Pure Michigan also offers excellent information on campgrounds at: www.michigan.org/places-to-stay/campgrounds.

In Michigan, we are truly blessed with a wealth of natural wonders. I hope you join me enjoying our great outdoors this summer.