Farewell to Great Lakes Defender, Senator Carl Levin


The passing on July 29 of former U.S. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan is a solemn moment that presents an opportunity to honor his work to protect the Great Lakes.

The longest-serving U.S. Senator in Michigan’s history, Levin consistently, quietly, and effectively crafted federal legislation and funding to benefit the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem.

The Great Lakes are precious and irreplaceable. We must do all we can to restore and protect them,” Levin said in 2014. His record was consistent with that sentiment.

Levin sponsored the Great Lakes Critical Programs Act of 1990, which toughened standards for toxic substance discharges into the Great Lakes. He authorized monitoring of toxic substances transported through the air into lakes and mandated cleanup plans for toxic areas of concern. Levin directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to prepare lakewide management plans for each of the Great Lakes.

“The Great Lakes are precious and irreplaceable. We must do all we can to restore and protect them,” Levin said in 2014. His record was consistent with that sentiment.

He also authored the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act, the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act, and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act. He was instrumental in creating the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron.

Levin was also an enthusiastic and key proponent of federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has invested more than $10 billion to clean up toxic sediments, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and promote environmentally sound farm practices.

“Carl Levin considered environmental challenges with the extraordinary intellect and integrity that he brought to all important issues,” said Lana Pollack, former U.S. Chair of the International Joint Commission. “Beyond that, he held his commitment to protect the Great Lakes as a special responsibility, born of his love for this magnificent place he called home.”

Sen. Levin poses with then Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent Dusty Shultz during the inauguration of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail near Glen Arbor in 2011.

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