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GLIN==> Plans to "Restore the Greatness" move forward

For immediate release
Dec. 12, 2002

Great Lakes Commission, National Sea Grant announce initiative

Plans to “Restore the Greatness” move forward

Ann Arbor, Mich. – Efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes ecosystem are taking a significant step forward, thanks to a new initiative by the Great Lakes Commission and National Sea Grant.

The Commission will partner with university-based Sea Grant programs in the Great Lakes states to advance efforts to develop a comprehensive restoration plan for the region. In so doing, they will support the work of the Council of Great Lakes Governors which is developing a series of restoration planning priorities at the request of the Great Lakes Congressional Task Force.

Funded by the National Sea Grant Program, this ambitious two-year initiative will research ecosystem problems and needs; assess existing restoration initiatives; conduct focus groups that build on the development of state and provincial priorities; and convene a restoration planning forum to assemble outcomes.

“Development of a restoration plan must be based upon sound science, and proceed with a clear understanding of ecosystem conditions, objectives and research activity,” said Commission Chair Sam Speck, who is also director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “Working together, the Commission and Sea Grant make a great team that can support the priorities of our governors.”

The process will be inclusive and involve a range of regional interests. A special emphasis will be placed on local perspectives on restoration priorities, with consultations including state coastal management programs, the International Association of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Mayors, and many others.

“Restoration planning is an emerging priority in regions throughout the country,” said Dr. Ron Baird, director of the National Sea Grant Program. “The foundation for a successful plan – and ecosystem improvement – is sound science, and our state Sea Grant programs are a tremendous source of scientific expertise.”

A plea to “Restore the Greatness” was first issued by the Great Lakes Commission two years ago with the inaugural release of its Great Lakes Program to Ensure Environmental and Economic Prosperity. Endorsed by its eight member states, the document presents legislative, policy and appropriations priorities addressing seven goals: cleaning up toxic hotspots; shutting the door on invasive species; controlling nonpoint source pollution; restoring and conserving wetlands and critical coastal habitat; ensuring the sustainable use of our water resources; strengthening our decision support capability; and enhancing the commercial and recreational value of our waterways.

Updated annually, the Great Lakes Program has provided a blueprint for regional initiatives and advocacy efforts at the federal level. Together with a number of existing agency and jurisdiction-specific restoration plans and documents, it is helping to inform and advance efforts for a large-scale, basinwide restoration plan.

Contact: Mike Donahue
Phone: 734-971-9135
Fax: 734-971-9150
E-mail: mdonahue@glc.org

The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Samuel W. Speck (Ohio), is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency
created by state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high
quality of life for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of state legislators,
agency officials and governors’ appointees from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and
Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal
Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other
regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.