Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

The President’s 2010 budget proposal provided $475 million for a new interagency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that will target the most significant problems in the Great Lakes region. The EPA and Great Lakes Interagency Task Force and its Regional Working Group began development of the initiative after the May 2009 budget announcement that included the initiative.

On behalf of the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, the U.S. EPA met with each of the Great Lakes states, tribal authorities, and the public to 1) provide background on the GLRI and current plans for implementing it; 2) solicit ideas and feedback on how to make the GLRI effective in addressing problems affecting the Great Lakes; and 3) learn about restoration plans and activities being pursued by other partners so they can be considered as the GLRI moves forward. Stakeholder input was received through numerous public meetings held in July and August in each of the Great Lakes states and via the internet, to assure the initiative goals, objectives, and targets align with those of the Great Lakes state, tribal, and local governments. The largest and final public meeting was held August 3, 2009 in Lansing, Michigan and was attended by Bob and Alana Anderson representing the Beaver Island Association.

Major themes of the initiative are 1) Target the most significant Great Lakes issues; 2) Results- and action-oriented; 3) Fully engage Great lakes community as implementation partners; and 4) Transparency and accountability. The initiative represents new resources for Great Lakes restoration and should not supplant existing resources, and is not to be used on traditional water infrastructure projects.

The funding plan and implementation process for 2010 has five focus areas: toxic substances and areas of concern; invasive species; nearshore health and nonpoint source pollution; habitat and wildlife protection and restoration; and accountability, monitoring, evaluation, communication, and partnerships. Each of the five focus areas is thoroughly described with a problem statement, proposed long term goals, interim objectives, action items to achieve progress, and specific measurements to track progress.

The funding plan is to assign the funding to the 2010 federal EPA budget. The EPA would provide the funds to other federal agencies through interagency agreements in a coordinated effort to address the most significant Great lakes problems. These federal agencies would fund states, tribes, cities, and local governments and non-governmental organizations through grants. Congress has already approved $400 million for the initiative for 2010 and grants are being processed. None of the proposed action programs are uniquely specific to Beaver Island, but literally dozens of them could directly or indirectly have a positive effect on our Island. Just a few examples are reduced toxic runoff, control of invasive species, improving soil erosion and sediment control, and fish and wildlife restoration and protection. These actions anywhere in the watershed can improve our water and shoreline quality. At the public meeting in Lansing, we spoke on behalf of the Beaver island Association supporting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and pointed to the success of our very successful phragmites control activity as an example of how cooperation between all the stakeholders can achieve outstanding results.

More information for those interested is available on the internet atwww.epa.gov/greatlakes/glri

– Submitted by Bob Anderson