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Coastal priorities on table
By Charles M. Bartholomew
The Indiana Post-Tribune

PORTAGE - The new 30-member Coastal Advisory Board, representing interests from the environment and agriculture to tourism and industry, aired a broad spectrum of views from its members at its second meeting Wednesday at the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission headquarters.

Under Indianaís agreement with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, grants will be awarded on a fair and equitable basisíí among three areas: coastal resources protection and restoration, coastal community enhancement and sustainability, and a list of emerging issues that do not fit easily into the first two.

Board secretary J. Allen Johnson, Lake County citizen representative and issues chairman of the Northwest Indiana Race Relations Council, wanted to be sure that coastal community projects will get their share of attention.

"If all the resources are channeled into the first category, then I find an inequity there that Iím uncomfortable with," he said.

"My concern is about access to the shoreline. We have a changing coastline, and the rate of change is accelerating," said said chairman Mark Reshkin of Indiana University Northwest.

Newly hired coastal program manager Mike Molnar said the program is administered by the Department of Natural Resources, which appointed the board from nominations.

The board has oversight of $1.17 million this year from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with $975,000 to be given out in grants later this year.

"This is an advisory board, not a ranking board," said Reshkin of the groupís charge to establish priorities for the DNR to review grant proposals beginning in October.

Port of Indiana Director Stephen Mosher noted the differences in priorities among the various interests and suggested that the staff examine coastal programs in other states for guidance.

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