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December 12th 2014

Weekly News Roundup: The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Harmful Algal Blooms, and More

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

The Detroit Free Press reports that the U.S. House has passed a bill continuing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The bill will fund the GLRI at $300 million per year for the next five years. The bill will now be considered by the Senate.


Transportation officials from both the U.S. and Canada will meet next week to discuss regulations on transporting oil by train, according to Reuters. At issue are different standards and safety regulations between the two nations that come into conflict when oil is transported across the international border.


The Toledo Blade is reporting that Ohio’s legislators may fail to pass a bill addressing water quality issues and harmful algal blooms. Among the unresolved issues include language that was added onto the bill pertaining to telecommunications.


A bill called the Drinking Water Protection Act is currently being considered by the U.S. Congress, reports the Macomb Daily. The proposed legislation would require the U.S. EPA to develop a strategic plan for considering the risks harmful algal blooms pose to drinking water.

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September 24th 2014

Coalition Supports New Great Lakes Action Plan

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is supporting a new Great Lakes action plan that will guide federal restoration efforts for the next five years. The plan, released today by the U.S. EPA at a meeting of Great Lakes mayors in Chicago, will prioritize federal Great Lakes investments to restore fish and wildlife habitat, clean up toxic pollution, combat invasive species like Asian carp, and prevent farm and urban runoff that causes algal blooms.

“This plan will keep Great Lakes restoration efforts on track,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The results we’ve seen over the first five years are a testament to a solid original strategy and the resources to implement it. We’re encouraged that the plan unveiled today will help us continue to make progress that improves the health of the lakes and communities which rely on them.” More >

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September 15th 2014

Putting the Rapids Back in Grand Rapids

As HOW Conference attendees walked through downtown Grand Rapids last week, a question might have played on their minds: where are all the rapids?

“When I first moved here from New Mexico,” remembers Chris Muller of Grand Rapids Whitewater, “I kept thinking: ‘The name doesn’t really seem to fit. Why do we call it Grand Rapids if there are none?’”

Running through the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Grand River did once exhibit impressive whitewater conditions that gave the city its name. As a community and industry developed around the river, however, they altered the river to suit their needs. Water levels were raised and lowered with dams, and the rocks lining the riverbed were removed. The iconic rapids disappeared, and the river has never been the same.

Several Grand Rapids residents have come together under a shared vision of returning rapids to the Grand River and reconnecting residents to the river and their shared history. Proponents acknowledge that this task is complicated and will take time, but will ultimately lead to numerous benefits for the city, including increased economic development, expanded recreational opportunities, and improved fish and wildlife habitat. As Muller explains: “We have a river; why can’t it be an awesome river?” More >

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September 10th 2014

Michigan Community Tackles Stormwater Issues in Their Watershed

The Plaster Creek watershed contains a variety of interests and communities reliant on the creek. Farms, industry, and higher-income communities dominate the upper reaches of the watershed, while downstream neighborhoods tend to be lower-income, minority communities. Stormwater carries excessive animal waste, sewage contamination, fertilizer, sediments, and other pollutants into the river, leading to severe bacterial contamination. This has a disproportionate impact on the low-income minority communities living downstream. Thanks to a program run through Calvin College, however, this diverse community is coming together to address these stormwater and environmental justice issues through green infrastructure restoration, scientific and social research, and education. Read more here.

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September 9th 2014

Great Lakes Activists Gather in Grand Rapids, Mich., to Celebrate 10 Years of Restoration Success

Conference to pay tribute to businessman, philanthropist and Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition founder Peter Wege

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. (Sept. 9, 2014) – With federal Great Lakes restoration efforts paying off in communities across the region, more than 350 Great Lakes advocates are gathering today in Grand Rapids, Mich., for the 10th annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference, which runs through Thursday.

Follow the proceedings, including daily coverage by Detroit Public Television at or

“We’re excited to be in Grand Rapids, which hosted the first Great Lakes restoration conference 10 years ago,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “We’re thrilled at the progress we’ve seen in those years, and are well aware that we’ve got more work to do. The good news is that federal restoration efforts are helping the environment and economy in Grand Rapids and communities around the region. Our message is simple: ‘Let’s keep Great Lakes restoration efforts on track’.”

Honoring Peter Wege

The conference will pay special tribute to Peter Wege, the Grand Rapids businessman, philanthropist and Great Lakes advocate, who founded the Coalition 10 years ago. Mr. Wege passed away earlier this year and the conference features a tribute lunch today to honor his leadership and support over his lifetime.

“Peter Wege was a wonderful man whose vision, passion, commitment and generosity was instrumental in advancing Great Lakes restoration efforts,” said Ambs. “We look forward to honoring and celebrating his life and carrying on the work to restore the health of the Lakes. Millions of people depend on these magnificent Lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and quality of life.” More >

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  • 2014 Great Lakes Restoration Conference

    Registration for the 10th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference is now available! To register, view the agenda, see what field trips are being offered, and to find out more about becoming a conference sponsor or exhibitor, please visit the main conference page.

  • Check out the Latest Update from the Field

    Read our latest field update from Michigan. Ducks Unlimited shares the results of their restoration tour with Congressman Dan Benishek. Learn more.