Camo at the Capitol: Protecting our Great Lakes

This week Camo at the Capitol is by MUCC Policy Intern, Nick Bade-Dodge
 The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and what it means for usLake Huron
Since there is not much action in Lansing these days due to the November elections, we are going to take this week’s Camo at the Capitol Blog to the federal level by taking a look at a Great Lakes funding proposal that is before the U.S. House & Senate.
As Michiganders, we understand the importance of the vitality and protection of the Great Lakes. After all, they are the largest concentration of fresh water on the planet. MUCC’s support of the Great Lakes is evident by passed resolutions involving invasive Asian Carp as well as on-the-ground work involving river clean-ups to reduce runoff. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition have similar interests in mind.
On September 24, a new five-year plan was introduced by the EPA at a meeting of Great Lakes mayors in Chicago. It is a continuation of the $1.6 Billion Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) put in place in 2009 to combat problems facing the Great Lakes. The newly introduced Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II continues the process of protecting our lakes through focusing on important issues facing the lakes as well as careful monitoring of progress.
What will the plan do in the next 5 years?
The plans focus points are to (1) clean up Great Lakes areas of concern, (2) prevent and control invasive species such as Asian Carp and Sea Lamprey, (3) restore habitat to protect native species, and finally to (4) reduce nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful and nuisance algal blooms. The plan has developed “Measures of Progress” with identified annual targets to track the effectiveness of the actions taken. By tracking progress on an annual basis, progress of longer-term ecological goals that will take more than five years to complete can be tracked more easily, providing us with more information for future action.
Through identifying areas of concern such as algal blooms caused by phosphorus runoff from fertilizer, projects will be created to provide direct intervention in these specific problem areas. The plan allows federal funding to be filtered through the EPA and then administered to other federal agencies in order to create coordination and cooperation among agencies as well as more effective ground projects.
EPA Photo: Twitter.com
Maintaining Restoration
Although the plan was released by the EPA, Great Lakes advocates are still fighting to maintain funding for programs involving restoration. The initial GLRI funding proposal for FY 2015 was for $25 million less than last year’s funding levels. But, due to a number of Great Lakes advocates in Washington and 27 Representatives who signed onto a letter supporting the increased funding, including 6 from Michigan (Reps. Dingell, Levin, Peters, Conyers, Kildee & Benishek), the proposed U.S. House and Senate Interior-EPA funding bills recommends the full $300 million for the initiative. MUCC and its partners support this funding and we hope that you will too. Please don’t hesitate to contact your U.S. Representative and/or Senators and ask them to support the Great Lakes as we continue to assist with on-the-ground conservation efforts to protect Michigan’s natural resources.
 

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