Great Lakes restoration program gets funding
By Lea Radick
Medill Reports (IL)
Published January 23, 2008
Wetlands in the Great Lakes region will receive a helping hand from a government and private-sector collaboration established to restore and protect the freshwater ecosystem.
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, vice chair of the Great Lakes Commission, and other Chicago officials introduced the Great Lakes Watershed Restoration Program at the Shedd Aquarium Wednesday morning.
The program, designed to protect and restore the habitat and ecosystem of the Great Lakes, will be funded by a combined $5.1 million grant from a new partnership between the ArcelorMittal USA Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, as well as other federal agency partners.
“One of our core areas is the environment,” said Heather Lobener, manager of corporate social responsibility for the Americas and USA Foundation with ArcelorMittal. “We have facilities all around the Great Lakes. Water is integral to our business. Sustainability is an important issue to our business.”
ArcelorMittal, a worldwide steel company, donated $2.1 million to the program. This sum will be matched by $3 million from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Forest Service. Grant donations will be matched to enable a total of $9 million in funding over three years.
The grant collaborators have established a series of funding priorities, but the partnership is focused primarily on the ground restoration of the wetlands of the Great Lakes, according to Moira McDonald, senior advisor for the central partnership office of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
“This public-private partnership marks an important step toward restoration of the Great Lakes’ vital wetlands," Quinn said in a press statement.
The program aims to address the habitat and ecosystem restoration goals developed by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, which was created in 2004 by President Bush.
“Because of the urban nature of the watershed, we have to do a lot of education and integration,” McDonald said. “We want to create and incite collaboration at the local level.”