The Great Lakes are five of America's greatest natural treasures. It's an ecosystem so epic in size and breathtaking in beauty that it instills a sense of national pride for the 85 million people who live in the region.

That's why President Trump's proposed EPA budget, which slashes funding to protect and restore the lakes by 97 percent, is so alarming. Since 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has funded over 2,000 projects that improve water quality, protect native wildlife, control invasive species, and clean up toxic pollutants that threaten our water supply. Cutting the GLRI budget from $300 million annually to a mere $10 million halts all of this important work, impacting not only our waters and wildlife, but also the millions of people that call this region our home.

These numerous local projects add up to regional impact for cleaner water, healthy habitat, and vibrant communities across the eight Great Lakes states. Ohioans enjoy Lake Erie for a multitude of recreational activities such as boating, fishing, hunting, swimming, bird watching and much more. Many of us remember a time when it was unsafe to participate in these activities, to enjoy this beautiful lake. Holding 20 percent of the world's fresh water supply, the Great Lakes provides clean drinking water to millions and provides shelter, nourishment, and rest for millions of threatened migratory birds. Thousands of raptors, waterfowl, and wetland birds rely on these lakes for safe nesting grounds. The Canton Audubon Society urges Congress to oppose this drastic funding cut.

Contact your U.S. senators and U.S. representative, and ask them to oppose this budget proposal. Together, we can ensure that our Great Lakes continue to provide abundant clean water for people and wildlife that depend on them.