Tom Crane, firstname.lastname@example.org
The release of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration’s strategy for restoring and protecting the Great Lakes is being hailed as a major step towards securing the future of the resource by the chair of the Great Lakes Commission, one of the first organizations to call for such a plan.
“We have been looking forward to this for a long time,” said Tom Huntley, chair of the Great Lakes Commission. “The Great Lakes Commission has long been an advocate of a comprehensive Great Lakes restoration plan, as exemplified by our Great Lakes Program to Ensure Environmental and Economic Prosperity, and we’re pleased to see that the Regional Collaboration has embraced many of the same priorities.”
The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration’s strategy, released Monday in Chicago, represents the culmination of a year of work by more than 1,500 Great Lakes experts and stakeholders to come up with a comprehensive assessment of the Great Lake’s major needs and make recommendations for addressing them. The effort was initiated by an executive order from President Bush that recognized the lakes as a national treasure.
Huntley said the next step is to secure the necessary resources to begin implementation of the strategy. To maintain the momentum generated by the Regional Collaboration, he urged Congress and the administration to implement $300 million in short-term actions in FY 2007 called for by the Council of Great Lakes Governors and the Great Lakes Cities Initiative.
“The Great Lakes community, both public and private entities, has responded to the President’s call with a huge investment of staff time and other resources in developing this strategy,” Huntley said. “The states and cities have pledged to come up with $140 million to cover their share of short-term actions. Now, we urge the President and Congress to respond in kind with the necessary federal support we need to meet their share.”
Released in Chicago on Dec. 12, the strategy outlines a detailed set of proposals for addressing eight major challenges facing the Great Lakes, as identified by the Council of Great Lakes Governors. A broad range of public agencies and private stakeholders participated in the Regional Collaboration process and in drafting the eight-part strategy. Among them was the Great Lakes Commission, which provided staff to all eight strategy teams, including a team co-chair.
The Commission’s annual Great Lakes Program to Ensure Environmental and Economic Prosperity, first released in 2001, was one of the first efforts to assemble a comprehensive package of legislative and appropriations priorities for restoring the Great Lakes.
The full text of the strategy is available online at: http://www.glrc.us/strategy.html
The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by the Hon. Thomas E. Huntley (Minnesota), is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency established under 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.