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October 17th 2014

Action Alert: Urge House Members to Sign-on to Support the GLRI

The riverbank stabilization project installed floodplain areas into Flute Reed River, like the one pictured to the right, which help slow floodwaters while plants hold the soil in place. Photo courtesy of Kerrie Berg, Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District.

This installed floodplain on the Flute Reed River has stabilized riverbanks, preventing erosion. Funding came from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Photo courtesy of Kerrie Berg, Cook County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Members of Congress are already thinking ahead to next year and the President’s budget request, set to come out in February of 2015. Members of the House Great Lakes Task Force are urging their colleagues to sign on to ask that the President’s budget maintain Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding at $300 million for fiscal year 2016. You may contact your Member of Congress via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Appropriators in both the U.S. House and Senate have agreed on funding the GLRI at $300 million for FY 2015, although the budget has not yet been finalized. Building on this consensus over GLRI funding, members of the U.S. House have begun circulating a Dear Colleague letter for members to sign on to indicating their support for keeping the GLRI at $300 million in FY 2016. This bipartisan letter is especially important because the President requested less GLRI funding in the budget he proposed this year. Generating robust Congressional support now is a critical step towards preventing another cut.  More >

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October 17th 2014

Weekly News Roundup: Asian Carp, Nutrient Pollution, and More

In case you missed this past week in Great Lakes conservation news:

A stretch of the Illinois River running through Havana, Illinois has one of the highest Asian carp concentrations in the world, reports WGN Chicago. It’s estimated that Asian carp represent 60% of the aquatic community there. Meanwhile, the New York Times is running an interview on Asian carp with a researcher from Southern Illinois University. The interview examines the threat posed by the carp, as well as what we can learn by studying the carp in their native China.

MLive reports that Lakes Michigan and Superior remain colder than usual for this time of year. These conditions may result in another cold winter for Michigan, although its possible that a warm November this may mitigate this effect.

Last week saw the announcement of two initiatives that should improve Lake Erie’s water quality and mitigate future algal blooms, according to The News-Sentinel. Three businesses in northwest Ohio have received 4R-certification for improving their fertilizer practices, while the Environmental Defense Fund announced a nationwide initiative to reduce nutrient pollution. Meanwhile, the Detroit News reports on a new study urging a reduction in nutrient pollution while also emphasizing the role of other harmful algal bloom contributors, such as climate change and invasive species.

Upper Pennisula’s Second Wave has a feature on the Upper Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative in Marquette, Michigan. The UGLSI is the newest hub of a statewide effort to connect young students with Great Lakes conservation issues and help teachers from local school districts develop Great Lakes education programs.

A restoration project is opening up 17 miles of the Menomonee River for fish migration and river habitat, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. While the project isn’t expected to be complete until late November, native fish are already beginning to utilize the restored habitat features such as riffles and pools.

The Holland Sentinel editorial board is backing an effort by the Michigan DNR to purchase 150 acres of undeveloped dunes along the coast of Lake Michigan. The board believes that obtaining this area before it is developed could result in preservation of the dune habitat while allowing the public to enjoy the shoreline.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking public comment on new regulations on freshwater fishing, reports The DEC will be accepting comments through December 1.

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October 10th 2014

Weekly News Roundup: Asian Carp, Oil Pipelines, and More

In case you missed this past week in Great Lakes conservation news:

The Detroit News reports that despite DNA evidence of Asian carp being detected in the Kalamazoo River, but wildlife officials state that this doesn’t prove there are established populations of the invasive fish within the Great Lakes watershed. Officials began additional tests into the Kalamazoo River this week to look for carp presence. Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press reports on research demonstrating Asian carp juveniles may be able to enter the Great Lakes through the commercial bait trade.

Michigan Radio (NPR) reports on some of the issues and lack of information surrounding the Enbridge oil pipeline running under the Straits of Mackincac. The Detroit Free Press also emphasizes the importance of ensuring the pipeline’s safety, saying that a potential oil spill could “devastate the lakes in a matter of minutes.”

The Department of Energy is preparing to award $2.8 million to LEEDCo for the development of an offshore wind farm in Lake Erie, according to the Plain Dealer. This grant comes after LEEDCo was passed over for a larger grant earlier this year.

The Associated Press reports on research showing Wisconsin’s wolf population is doing worse than previously estimated. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes that the population remains healthy, while some wildlife scientists believe the agency should consider returning the wolves’ protected status.

According to MLive, 1 in 5 of all Michigan jobs are related to the state’s water resources. Local and state leaders met in Muskegon this week to discuss strategies for further promoting the “Blue Economy.”

Great Lakes Echo reports that four Great Lakes states are among the nation’s top ten in energy efficiency: New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Despite this progress, the Michigan legislature is currently considering a bill that would repeal the state’s renewable energy standards.

The Voice reports that despite the threat posed by invasive zebra mussels, many mussel populations native to the Great Lakes are hanging on and doing better than previously thought.

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October 2nd 2014

Knowing Where Wetlands Are Helps Guide Conservation Planning

The health of the Great Lakes are largely determined by the health of the rivers and wetlands that feed them. A major goal of Great Lakes restoration efforts has been to restore high quality wetlands that filter nutrients and pollution, reduce runoff pollution, and provide a home for fish and wildlife. To help guide wetland restoration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed a map in the 1970s and 80s showing the extent and status of wetlands throughout the United States, called the National Wetlands Inventory. While wetlands were changing during the intervening decades, however, the original inventory became outdated. Thanks to several grants, including two from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Ducks Unlimited led a coalition of partner organizations in updating the wetland maps in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Read more here.

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September 26th 2014

Weekly News Roundup: Invasive Species, Nuclear Disposal, and More

In case you missed this past week in Great Lakes conservation news:

The Star Tribune reports that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking federal approval to use potash to kill invasive zebra mussels in Christmas Lake.

The E.P.A. has released the second phase of its plans to restore the Great Lakes, reports the New York Times. The plan includes strategies for climate change adaptation and harmful algal bloom mitigation.

A U.S. District judge has approved a controversial land swap by the U.S. Forest Service, reports Great Lakes Echo. Some environmental groups claim that the land swap will harm old growth forests and wildlife habitat.

The Detroit Free Press reports on a panel of environmental experts that convened in Windsor, Ontario this week. Topics of discussion included invasive species, harmful algal blooms, and lake contaminants.

Senator Carl Levin has introduced a resolution calling on President Obama to oppose a Canadian plan to bury nuclear waste within a mile of Lake Huron, reports the Detroit Free Press. Representative Dan Kildee is sponsoring a similar resolution in the House of Representatives.

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  • A Video Tribute to Peter Wege

    Last month, the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition celebrated the life of businessman, philanthropist, and Great Lakes advocate Peter Wege at the 10th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., with a video tribute. Watch it here.

  • Check out the Latest Update from the Field

    Read our latest field update from New York. Citizens Campaign for the Environment shares the results of their work with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to ban microbeads at the federal level. Learn more.