Two state senators announced Thursday they are forming a Lake Erie Caucus to help focus attention on issues involving Ohio’s north shore.

“Lake Erie is one of Ohio’s truly great natural assets,” Sen. Randy Gardner, a Republican from Bowling Green, said in a statement. “We just believe the lake and all it means to Ohio needs even more focus. As state legislators, we have an obligation to provide that focus and leadership.”

The purpose of the Lake Erie Caucus is to make a meaningful impact on state and federal policies and support, Gardner said. It will address many issues, including the environment and the economy.

Gardner and Democratic Sen. Capri Cafaro of Hubbard, who joined him in the announcement, will serve as co-chairs in the Senate. They hope to have participation from House members, too.

Gardner, the sponsor of the Healthy Lake Erie Fund to combat algae problems, represents the lake shore counties of Erie and Ottawa, as well as a part of Lucas County. Cafaro’s district includes all of Ashtabula County.

Six other Senate districts and more than 20 House district include parts of coastal counties.

I look forward to substantive discussions about the lake’s role in economic growth and tourism, as well as ways to preserve the environmental health of the water,” Cafaro said.

The caucus will seek input from state cabinet agencies, such as the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Department of Commerce. Travel and tourism groups, boating and fishing interests, small businesses impacted by the lake’s economy, environmental groups and others will also be asked for input.

Both the House and Senate have recessed until next year. An organizational meeting for the caucus is planned for for January.

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