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March 26, 2019 12:15 am

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Former MI Lawmaker Patty Birkholz Dies At 74; Renowned Environmental Advocate

Patty Birkholz, a former southwestern Michigan lawmaker known for environmental and Great Lakes advocacy and a Saugatuck resident has died at 74.

A spokesman and family statement say she died last Thursday (May 3) at an assisted living facility in Holland.

The statement says her death came “after a short battle with cancer.”

Birkholz served the state House from 1997-2002 and Senate from 2003-08. The Republican had been a Saugatuck Township trustee and Allegan County treasurer.

After Birkholz left the statehouse, Gov. Rick Snyder appointed her director of the Office of the Great Lakes and Great Lakes Commission representative.

Former President Barack Obama appointed her to the National Sea Grant Advisory Board.

The family says her achievements included helping pass a compact protect Great Lakes water, water withdrawal assessment laws, ballast water standards and renewable energy mandates.

Gov. Rick Snyder on May 3 issued a statement about Birkholz.

“Patty was a tireless and highly regarded advocate for Michigan and our lakes,” Snyder said.

“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.

“We all should remember Patty for her dedication to protecting Michigan’s environment and residents, which will benefit Michiganders for generations.”

A Facebook page created to honor Birkholz indicates she had “a sudden and aggressive return of cancer.”

Birkholz, of Saugatuck, served three terms in the state House and two terms in the state Senate, all beginning in 1995.

Prior to serving in the Legislature, she served as a Saugatuck Township Parks and Recreation commissioner, a township trustee and county treasurer.

In more recent years, she was director of the Office of the Great Lakes and also director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters West Michigan.

Former MI Lawmaker Patty Birkholz Dies At 74; Renowned Environmental Advocate

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