Groups to push Great Lakes cleanup
By John Myers
Duluth News Tribune
Published April 28, 2005
A coalition of 55 environmental and conservation groups
on Wednesday joined forces to push for a massive national
effort to clean up the Great Lakes.
The National Wildlife Federation, National Parks Conservation
Association and dozens of other groups announced they
will push for a federal Great Lakes restoration plan that
rivals the nation's commitment to restore the Florida
The announcement was made as state, tribal, federal,
business and local officials from around the Great Lakes
gather this week in Traverse City, Mich., for the second
meeting of the Environmental Protection Agency's Great
Lakes Regional Collaboration. The gathering is to begin
work crafting a comprehensive Great Lakes restoration
The EPA collaboration was called by President Bush last
year to focus Great Lakes cleanup efforts to avoid duplication
and to coordinate research and programs. The EPA collaboration
first met in Chicago in December amid renewed optimism
that all parties were ready for a bipartisan cleanup plan
for the lakes.
While momentum is building behind the lakes restoration,
environmental groups worry there will be little new money
earmarked for the effort.
"Our coalition is working hard to make sure that,
this time, there's a plan that results in the action and
funding the Great Lakes and our region need," said
Andy Buchsbaum, director of the National Wildlife Federation's
Great Lakes Natural Resource Center.
In October 2000, the federal government approved $1.4
billion to start a landmark 36-year restoration of the
Everglades. The total bill for projects is expected to
top $8 billion.
The Everglades effort happened only because the entire
nation, and most of Congress, became convinced of the
problems and the value of saving the area, said Tom Kiernan,
president of the National Parks Conservation Association.
Members of the 55 organizations involved in the Great
Lakes effort, called the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes
Coalition, say that's what is needed to restore the Great
"We need to convince a national audience, and all
of Congress, that we have to do this now," Kiernan
said Wednesday in a telephone news conference.
The stakes for saving the Great Lakes are even higher
than the much-smaller Everglades, and the price tag will
be much higher as well.
The 55 groups are focusing efforts in eight areas:
• Invasive species
• Toxic pollution that builds in the environment
• Runoff and erosion
• Habitat protection
• Human health issues
• Contaminated sediments
• Sustainable development
• Monitoring and research
Among the 55 groups are the Minnesota Council of Trout
Unlimited, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Minnesota
Conservation Federation, Minnesota Center for Environmental
Advocacy, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Wisconsin Association
of Lakes and Wisconsin Trout Unlimited, Sierra Club Great
Lakes Initiative, Ducks Unlimited and Great Lakes United.
The Wege Foundation at Steelcase University in Grand
Rapids, Mich., last year pledged $5 million over five
years for environmental groups to coordinate their Great