“From Milwaukee to Superior and from La Crosse to Green Bay, I’m proud to find support for this commonsense legislation to support waterfront communities and I applaud today’s vote in the Senate to pass this bill,” said Senator Baldwin. “Waterfronts are a critical asset for our quality of life in Wisconsin, as well as for our long term economic security. In fact, the Great Lakes are directly linked to more than 1.5 million U.S. jobs and $62 billion in annual wages. And Wisconsin’s natural resources support nearly $12 billion dollars of economic activity in the Badger State. Boosting our waterfront communities is not just an environmental goal, it is an economic necessity.”
The Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act will support community efforts to make the most of water resources by attracting water-dependent industries and investments that leverage water sustainably, revitalizing neighborhoods, and enhancing recreation and tourism. In addition, Senator Baldwin’s legislation will support communities to plan for their future and help them attract private and non-profit investment. U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Gary Peters (D-MI) have co-sponsored the legislation.
Over 50 Wisconsin leaders and regional and national stakeholders have endorsed Senator Baldwin’s legislation. Senator Baldwin has travelled the state and visited waterfront projects in Green Bay, Wausau, Superior, La Crosse and Prairie du Chien to discuss how the bill would support revitalization efforts.
Many waterfront communities were built around their water resources years ago, and are now working to reposition and overcome issues such as limited public access and poor alignment with modern development. In addition to adapting to economic shifts, waterfront communities are facing pressures to meet increasing demands on water resources; make resilient investments that can withstand weather extremes like storms, floods, and fluctuating lake levels; and adapt to changing ecosystem conditions that range from shoreline erosion to stresses on fisheries.
Waterfront planning and implementation requires communities to navigate intergovernmental hurdles, work across constituent groups and agencies, and secure financing. But many communities lack the tools to make it from vision to reality—despite the economic returns from revitalization and the payoff that resiliency preparation can provide in the long term.
The Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act aims to solve these problems by:
· Creating a voluntary Resilient Waterfront Community designation within the Department of Commerce. The designation recognizes communities that adopt a waterfront revitalization and resiliency plan integrating economic, ecosystem, and infrastructure challenges and opportunities.
· Establishing a Resilient Waterfront Communities network to support sharing of best practices, highlight Resilient Waterfront Communities, and help attract new investment.