Former state Senator and Office of the Great Lakes director Patricia Birkholz has died at age 74 following a battle with cancer.

Ms. Birkholz brought her passion for the Great Lakes from her home in the coastal town of Saugatuck, Michigan to her long career marked by advocacy for natural resources environmental issues.

Highlights from her career include work to establish the state Recreation Passport, the 2008 Great Lakes Compact, a wetlands protection law, and the development of Michigan’s water withdrawal law.

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“Michigan has lost a tenacious fighter for her state and for the Great Lakes. Her contributions will last as a legacy to her determination and her passion,” said Office of the Great Lakes director Jon W. Allan. “Thank you, Patty, for your leadership as a champion for the Great Lakes we all love.”

Governor Rick Snyder released a statement Thursday stating, “I am saddened to hear of former state Sen. Patty Birkholz’s passing. In her time as senator and director of the Office of the Great Lakes, Patty was a tireless and highly regarded advocate for Michigan and our lakes. Under her leadership, we saw the formation of the Great Lakes Inter-Basin Compact and the passage of significant legislation regarding water withdrawal assessment, the Michigan state parks passport, ballast water standards, and renewable energy mandates.”

Birkholz was a Republican who represented the Saugatuck area.

Photo: Patricia Birkholz. Credit: Michigan Office of the Great Lakes.

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