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Great Lakes Article:

Great Lakes Commission directs $5.75 million to regional priorities
Commission projects advance environmental and economic prosperity
Mike Donahue
The Great Lakes Commission

Ann Arbor, Mich. -- Efforts to "Restore the Greatness" to the Great Lakes are being aided by $5.75 million in FY 2003 funds for Great Lakes Commission projects and programs addressing the region's resource management needs. The Commission, a binational agency with state and provincial membership, promotes sound public policy on regional environmental and economic issues through communication, policy research and development, and advocacy.

"These multiple grant awards are directed at both new-start and ongoing projects that support our Great Lakes Program to Ensure Environmental and Economic Prosperity," said Commission Chairman Nathaniel E Robinson. "This is a 41-point package of legislative, program and appropriations priorities unanimously endorsed by our eight members states earlier this year. Augmenting these grants are member dues to be directed toward our regional coordination and advocacy efforts."

The Great Lakes Program presents seven goals to "Restore the Greatness" to the world's largest system of fresh surface water. It provides a blueprint for both congressional and regional action. These goals are as follows, accompanied by an overview of relevant projects receiving funds to addess them:
  • Cleaning up toxic hot spots
    The Commission is developing, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a restoration plan for Lake St. Clair that identifies and addresses pollution problems in this intensively used, binational watershed. Cleanup efforts at Areas of Concern (AOCs) are being addressed as well, thanks to the Commission's work with Michigan's Statewide Public Advisory Council (SPAC). The Commission is also exploring possibilities for linking brownfields cleanup and redevelopment with greenfields protection, thanks to support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters.

  • Shutting the door on invasive species
    Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Commission is strengthening partnerships among the many public agencies and private organizations with an interest in aquatic nuisance species control. A pilot project for the early detection and monitoring of nuisance invasive species in Lake Michigan is also under way.

  • Controlling nonpoint source pollution
    Through the Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control, the Commission supports local efforts to control soil erosion and sedimentation, and reduce sources of sediment and associated pollutants to the Great Lakes and their tributaries. Other projects seek to reduce pollution from urban and agricultural runoff, and air deposition, and feature data/information, technical assistance and demonstration components.

  • Restoring and conserving wetlands and critical coastal habitat
    A long-term monitoring program for Great Lakes coastal wetlands is being developed by the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium, a group of resource managers and scientists convened by the Commission. The Commission has also begun a two-year effort to assess and restore the crucial wetlands and coastal areas of Lake St. Clair, which features the largest coastal delta in the Great Lakes region.

  • Strengthening our decision support capability
    A regional water conservation toolkit, outlining water conservation measures that can be adopted by public water suppliers, water resource managers and other Great Lakes water users, is being developed by the Commission. The project supports the efforts of the Great Lakes governors and premiers in their efforts to develop a new water withdrawal decisionmaking standard for the region, as called for in the Great Lakes Charter Annex of 2001.

  • Ensuring the sustainable use of our water resources
    The Commission has entered into a partnership with the U.S. National Park Service to develop a water resources management plan for Isle Royale National Park - the first of a potential series of plans for national parks in the Great Lakes region.

  • Enhancing the commercial and recreational value of our waterways
    The Commission is documenting the importance of recreational boating to the regional economy and identifying associated dredging and infrastructure needs. The Commission has also initiated a comparative study of the fuel efficiency, safety, and environmental aspects of transportation alternatives such as maritime transportation, truck and rail.

Support for these Commission initiatives is provided by numerous U.S. federal agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. National Park Service and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Augmenting this support are funds from various foundations, state agencies and private sector sources.

Details on all newly funded projects, as well as the Commission's overall policy research and development program, are available from Dr. Michael J. Donahue, Commission President/CEO at or call 734-971-9135.

The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Nathaniel E. Robinson (Wisconsin), is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency created by 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.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.

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