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Great Lakes Article:

Funds committed for protecting Great Lakes
By Bryan Meadows
The Chronicle-Journal (Canada)
Published January 9th, 2005

The province will beef up its commitment this year to protect and restore Great Lakes ecosystems.

The Ministry of Natural Resources will spend $7.7 million in 2004-05 to protect and restore healthy ecosystems within the Great Lakes and adjoining watersheds.

MNR spokeswoman Barbara Mabee said Friday that the funding represents “a greater commitment toward improving water quality.”

The government invested $6.4-million in projects led by the MNR last year.

Through the Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem, the provincial government is investing $50 million over five years to conserve and restore the Great Lakes and protect the province’s unique coastal environment.

It’s one of the Ontario’s largest programs aimed at helping clean up the Great Lakes for future generations. Eight federal agencies and three provincial ministries are part of the agreement.

Some of the projects the ministry is involved in include:

• Protecting biodiversity by protecting species at risk, increasing public awareness of invasive species, conserving wetlands and supporting efforts to create a protected areas network.

• Restoring fish and wildlife uses by protecting habitat, restoring native fish populations, and supporting watershed planning.

• Enhancing knowledge about fish and wildlife populations, impacts of invasive species, aquatic food webs, watershed science, and indicators of ecosystem health.

A total of $25 million of the five-year allocation has been earmarked for Ministry of Environment and Agriculture and Food initiatives.

Under an agreement signed in 2002, Ontario and Canada have set environmental priorities and are undertaking specific goals and actions to meet the shared vision of a healthy, prosperous and sustainable Great Lakes Basin ecosystem for present and future generations.

COA contributes to Canada’s obligations under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement signed by Canada and the United States in 1972. The goal is to restore the biological, physical and chemical integrity of the Great Lakes over the long term.

Provincially, COA is led by the Ministry of the Environment, while the Ministry of Natural Resources is a key partner in implementing many aspects of the agreement.

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