In January 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and President Barack Obama proposed a five-year, $475 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan. According to a media release issued by the EPA, the Plan “lays out the most urgent threats facing the Great Lakes and sets out goals, objectives and key actions over the next five years to help restore the lakes.”

The five-year Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan, unveiled in January during a meeting with governors from the eight Great Lakes states (which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York), covers fiscal year 2010-2014 and was developed by 16 federal agencies. The action plan includes action under five priority “focus areas” identified by the task force as vital for restoring the Great Lakes. They include:

  • Protection and cleanup of the most polluted areas in the lakes
  • Combating invasive species
  • Protection of high priority watersheds and reduced runoff from urban, suburban and agricultural sources
  • Restoration of wetlands and other habitats
  • Implementation of accountability measures, learning initiatives, outreach and strategic partnerships

A PDF copy of the 41-page plan can be downloaded at http://greatlakesrestoration.us.

On April 6, following the Plan proposal, a coalition of environmental and conservation groups calling themselves The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition announced that they will provide up to $200,000 in grants to help local groups in the Great Lakes region obtain and use funds from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Funding from the implementation program will focus on five priority areas, one on each of the Great Lakes. These areas include:

  • Lake Superior: St. Louis Bay and St. Louis River
  • Lake Michigan: Chicago-land
  • Lake Huron: Saginaw Bay
  • Lake Erie: Western Lake Erie
  • Lake Ontario: Eastern Lake Ontario

According to the Coalition, these areas were selected for restoration by a panel of Great Lakes scientists. The scientists recommended sites that were highly degraded, while at the same time holding great promise for being successfully restored.

For additional information on the Priority Area Implementation Program, download a program fact sheet by clicking here, or visit www.healthylakes.org.