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February 2018 Call to Action

From the Director of
Minnesota Sea Grant

Dear Friends of Minnesota Sea Grant:

Thank you to our friends, stakeholders, collaborators, partners, supporters and all who wrote, called and expressed appreciation for Minnesota Sea Grant to congressional leaders in 2017. Due to those efforts, the National Sea Grant College Program survived cuts to the fiscal year 2017 budget. Despite this victory in 2017, the President's FY19 budget proposal once again calls for the elimination of the National Sea Grant College Program and your help is again needed.

If Congress approves of the President's FY19 budget without Sea Grant in it, Minnesota Sea Grant and the services we provide Minnesotans could be gone by October 2018. The same will happen in each of the other 32 Sea Grant programs across the United States.

The elimination of the National Sea Grant College Program in FY19 will immediately remove funding dedicated to providing scholarships and fellowships to Minnesota college students, stop funding for research projects addressing critical issues affecting Minnesota's economy and environment, and stop our ability to provide huge benefits to the state of Minnesota (see our "By the Numbers"). Many people will likely lose their jobs and we will no longer be able to create or sustain many other jobs and businesses in the private sector.

Minnesota Sea Grant has a greater return on investment of federal funds than any other government program we are aware of, proving we are outstanding stewards of the federal funds we are given. Our funds are leveraged with private, local and state funds to address issues identified as most important by Minnesotans and Minnesota businesses.

I am optimistic for our future because we have faith that the people we serve, people like you, will see the value of Minnesota Sea Grant and advocate on our behalf again.

It will take your support to sustain us!

If you're reading this, you likely value the Sea Grant program and you can help. The President makes budget requests, yet it is Congress who takes action when it comes to the budget. While the strong bipartisan support of Sea Grant by members of Congress has not changed, there are many programs facing potential drastic cuts in fiscal year 2019, which runs from October 2018 through September 2019. If members of Congress receive a huge number of supportive emails and telephone calls from people who deeply value a particular program it will make a significant difference to the outcome.

Please contact your representatives in Congress and ask for their support of Minnesota Sea Grant. If you're unsure about what exactly to say, we have some sample wording you can use in your email that contains specific language that Congressional delegates and their staff will recognize as pertaining to the proposed elimination of the program. To find your representatives, use the link below under "Contact Your Representatives." Hard copy letters can be slow to arrive in Congressional offices, but emails are typically received immediately. Some Congressional offices also have online forms to provide comments.

Thank you,
Dr. John A. Downing, Director
Minnesota Sea Grant
University of Minnesota Duluth
31 W. College Street
Duluth, MN 55812-1198
(218) 726-8715

Contact Your Representatives

For the House of Representatives you can easily search for names of members of Congress and contact information here: http://www.house.gov/representatives

For the Senate you can search here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Letter of Support Template (February 2018 Version)

Download the letter as a Word DOC or copy the text from below ...

Dear Senator ___________ OR
Dear Representative _________________

As a constituent and beneficiary of the Minnesota Sea Grant program, I urge you to make a programmatic request to the Appropriations Committees to fund the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) at a level of $85 million for fiscal year 2019.

This level is consistent with the total amount proposed to be authorized in HR 4306 and S129 and the new FY19 budget agreement Congress recently passed into law. The Sea Grant program is administered by NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, which is funded in the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill (see below).

This recommended funding level would support the key focus areas in Sea Grant's strategic plan: healthy coastal (freshwater and saltwater) ecosystems; sustainable fisheries and aquaculture; resilient communities and economies; and environmental literacy and workforce development. Because Sea Grant is authorized and managed in accord with its enabling legislation, Sea Grant staff support state and local decision-makers via a nonregulatory approach based on sound, peer-reviewed science and technology. Sea Grant's work with state and local coastal communities helps them address challenges and supports the growth and development of their economies and environment.

Sea Grant delivers value to the taxpayer.

  • The National Sea Grant Program helped generate an estimated $611 million in economic impacts; created or sustained more than 7,000 jobs; provided 33 state-level programs and 494 communities with technical assistance on sustainable development practices; worked with about 1,300 industry, local, state and regional partners; and supported the education and training of more than 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in 2016.
  • Congress's FY16 appropriation of $73 million to the National Sea Grant Program was leveraged with matching funds provided by states, universities, and other sources by at least an additional dollar in nonfederal resources.
  • Minnesota Sea Grant's roughly $1 million of that Congressional appropriation generated nearly $19 million in economic benefits in 2016.
  • Approximately 95% of the federal funding provided to Sea Grant leaves D.C. and goes to the state programs, including Minnesota, where it is used to provide business, industry, agencies, policymakers and the people of Minnesota with the science they need to sustain coasts, waters, and communities.
  • Sea Grant is known throughout Minnesota for helping to stop the spread of harmful aquatic invasive species like Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels. This work yielded more than $6 million in economic benefits in the form of protecting property values and Minnesota's world-class recreational fishing.

In 2017, Minnesota Sea Grant served the people of Minnesota through outreach, education and research on water and water science. Minnesota Sea Grant investigated the patterns and economics of moving petroleum products through the Great Lakes region and spoke with more than 1,500 students about water safety. Minnesota citizens joined Minnesota Sea Grant scientists in harmful algae bloom research and in searching for answers to questions about mercury levels, which influence fish consumption advisories. Minnesota Sea Grant worked with Ojibwe tribes on monitoring wild rice, managing invasive species, and supporting science-technology-engineering-math (STEM) education. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency used information from Sea Grant-funded research to develop new state sulfate standards.

For the long-term health of Minnesota, we urge you to strongly support the National Sea Grant College Program by submitting a programmatic request to the Appropriations Committee that would fund the program at a level of $85 million in fiscal year 2019. We have attached a document that should be helpful for submitting such a request to the Appropriations Committees.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.



John A. Downing

This page last modified on February 21, 2018     © 1996 – 2018 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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