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      Senate committee OKs new harbor dredging bill

      The Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee approved Senator Darwin Booher's dredging bill.

      The Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee has approved a bill that would help determine the need for harbor dredging.

      The bill would require the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to conduct an assessment of the state's public harbors every three years to determine the need for dredging and infrastructure improvements.

      "I have visited harbors in Northern Michigan where low water levels and federal inaction are putting at risk millions of dollars in local economic activity," said Booher, R-Evart. "I am committed to putting in place both short- and long-term plans to help manage and maintain our ports for shipping and recreational boating."

      The Senate has also approved a bill that will restore the waterfront tax increment finance authority to provide local financing options for dredging. Another bill creates new low-interest loan programs for financing dredging projects at private marina facilities.

      Booher noted that this week's action follows Senate approval last week of nearly $21 million in state funding for emergency dredging of Michigan harbors. The funding includes more than $2.9 million for dredging in five harbors in the area.

      The bill will now be sent to the full senate for consideration.