Traverse City Coast Guard helicopters on chopping block
Thu, 01 Mar 2012 23:43:58 GMT —
A West Michigan Coast Guard station may be slated for a closure, and that could put an added burden on crews here in Northern Michigan.
President Barack Obama's 2013 budget proposal eliminates the air facility in Muskegon and reduces USCG Air Station Traverse City's helicopter fleet by two.
Coast Guard crews in Traverse City would have to take over some rescue responsibilities from 120 miles away.
Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf who's jurisdiction covers much of Lake Michigan is worried the move could put lives at risk.
Sheriff Oltersdorf says, "We only have boats on the water and available for response five months out of the year at most. During those winter months we can't respond and the Coast Guard is the only game in town."
Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow sent a letter to the appropriations committee requesting that the senate reject these changes.
"We are concerned that if the President's proposal is adopted the Traverse City air facility will be left dangerously shorthanded." they wrote in the letter.
According to the coast guard, Michigan with it's significant Great Lakes shoreline has almost a million registered boaters.
Sheriff Oltersdorf says, "Public safety has to be paramount anything less is unacceptable."
USCG Air Station Traverse City currently has five helicopters. If the proposal passes it would leave them with three larger, more capable choppers.