Lake Michigan

A kayaker, powerboat and sailboat share a stretch of Lake Michigan as seen from Racine's North Beach in this September 2015 photo.

SCOTT ANDERSON, RACINE JOURNAL TIMES

President Donald Trump and his close Republican ally Gov. Scott Walker disagree over Trump’s budget proposal to eliminate federal funding to help preserve the Great Lakes.

Walker joined with other Wisconsin Republicans and Democrats on Thursday in opposing Trump’s call for eliminating federal funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program that addresses the lakes’ most pressing environmental threats.

Walker said he would work with House and Senate leaders and talk with the Trump administration about restoring the funding. A bipartisan group of 47 members of Congress, including everyone from the Wisconsin delegation except House Speaker Paul Ryan, sent Trump a letter last month urging him to protect the $300 million-a-year program.

“It makes sense for us to continue to make prudent investments in protecting and improving the Great Lakes,” Walker said in an interview. “It’s one of those where it’s a combination of quality of life, certainly in terms of access to the greatest fresh water supply in the world but also it’s an economic impact. Commercial fishing, tourism, so many of those things tie in to a healthy and vibrant Great Lakes system.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, whose northeastern Wisconsin district borders Lake Michigan, called Trump’s budget proposal “ill-advised” and said there is a “moral obligation to pass on clean water to future generations.”

The program Trump wants to kill has put more than $2.2 billion into the eight-state region for projects that have removed toxic waste from industrial harbors, fought invasive species such as Asian carp, and supported efforts to prevent harmful algal blooms.

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