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GLIN==> New grants awarded

For immediate release

Great Lakes Commission awarded $3.14 million in new grants

New projects will advance Great Lakes environmental and economic prosperity

Ann Arbor, Mich. — Great Lakes restoration and management efforts are taking a major step forward, thanks to $3.14 million in new funding for Great Lakes Commission programs and projects.  The Commission, a binational agency with state and provincial membership, promotes sound public policy on regional environmental and economic issues through communication, policy research and development, and advocacy.

“The multiple grant awards address goals embodied in our Great Lakes Program to Ensure Environmental and Economic Prosperity,” said Commission Chairman Nathaniel E Robinson.  “This is a 39-point package of legislative, program and appropriations priorities unanimously endorsed by our eight members states earlier this year.”

The Great Lakes Program presents seven goals to “restore the greatness” to the world's largest system of surface freshwater.  It provides a blueprint for both Congressional and regional action.  These goals are as follows, accompanied by an overview of relevant projects receiving funds to addess them:

Cleaning up toxic hot spots: The Commission will develop, in partnership with the Corps of Engineers, a Lake St. Clair Management Plan that identifies and addresses pollution problems in this intensively used, binational basin.  Also, public involvement in cleanup efforts at Michigan’s 14 Areas of Concern will be supported.

Shutting the door on invasive species: A rapid response plan will be developed and implemented to ensure early detection of, and targeted response to new introductions of harmful nuisance species. This work will complement the Commission’s ongoing work to promote an effective ballast management program for the region.

Controlling nonpoint source pollution: Several large-scale projects will be directed at reducing pollution inputs from multiple pathways, including urban and agricultural runoff, and air deposition.  These projects have data/information, inventory, technical assistance and demonstration components.

Restoring and conserving wetlands and critical coastal habitat: The Commission will work with 31 partner agencies and organizations in the second phase of a binational effort to establish a comprehensive wetlands monitoring program.  Also a “Beachcast” project will provide residents of several major metropolitan areas with real-time data and information on beach closures and associated water quality problems.

Strengthening our decision support capability: Commission staff and collaborators will inventory surface and groundwater resources, and biological features of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system.  Funded under the John Glenn Great Lakes Basin Program in the federal Water Resources Development Act, this work will contribute to the development of a Great Lakes Water Resources Decision Support System, a large-scale project currently supported by the Great Lakes Protection Fund.  The Commission is also initiating an “environmental windows” project designed to advise managers on environmentally sound dredging practices.

Ensuring the sustainable use of our water resources: Strategic planning to promote sustainable management practices will be a Commission focus in the coming year.  A partnership with the U.S. National Park Service will yield a water resources management plan for Isle Royale National Park – the first of a potential series of plans for national parks in the Great Lakes region.  Also, an inventory and analysis of regional and agency-specific restoration plans will help the Commission advise the Corps of Engineers, and other regional partners, on their own strategic planning efforts.

Enhancing the commercial and recreational value of our waterways: The Commission will document the importance of recreational boating to the regional economy and identify associated dredging and infrastructure needs.  In addition, the value of the maritime transportation industry will be assessed by comparing its performance to other modes of transportation (i.e., rail, trucking) in the areas of fuel efficiency, safety and environmental impacts.

Support for these Commission initiatives is provided by numerous U.S. federal agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. National Park Service and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.  Augmenting this support are funds from various foundations, state agencies and private sector sources.

Details on all newly-funded projects, as well as the Commission’s overall policy research and development program, are available from Dr. Michael J. Donahue, President/CEO at 734-665-9135 or by visitng http://www.glc.org/