ANN ARBOR, MICH. (June 5, 2013) – The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition today unveiled a new interactive map illustrating how federal Great Lakes restoration investments are helping to successfully clean up toxic hot spots in the lakes, restore wetlands, reduce runoff from cities and farms and combat invasive species.
The map features 60 successful Great Lakes restoration projects across the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and New York. Additional restoration success stories will be added to the map as more projects are completed. View the map at: http://healthylakes.org/map
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is producing results across the region,” said Chad Lord, policy director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “But more work remains. It’s essential that Congress maintain funding for Great Lakes programs. If we cut funding, projects will be more difficult and expensive the longer we wait.”
Successful Great Lakes Projects
The map provides a sample of successful federal restoration projects across the region. It primarily features projects funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has received $1.36 billion during its first four years. The program has funded the removal of more than 1 million cubic yards of toxic sediment from Great Lakes harbors, restored 20,000 acres of wetlands, reduced polluted runoff and bolstered efforts to Asian carp from invading the lakes.
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been a shot in the arm for strong conservation measures in cities, harbors, farms and national parks,” said Lynn McClure, Midwest Regional Director at the National Parks Conservation Association and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “This initiative is a tremendous economic driver for local communities as well. It is not just restoring the lakes, it’s restoring jobs throughout the region.”
State and federal agencies have been working for years to clean up the lakes and restore fish and wildlife habitat. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has bolstered those efforts by providing unprecedented funding for restoration projects. Highlights include:
- The dredging of 140,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Milwaukee’s Lincoln Creek and the Milwaukee River channel.
- Development of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the first international wildlife refuge in North America.
- The first permanent ballast water treatment system on a Great Lakes freshwater ship, which was installed on a National Park Service ferry that transports visitors to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior.
- Renovations that allowed the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery in Pennsylvania to re-open. The renovated facility produces up to 1 million native lake trout annually for Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
- Removal of toxic sediments along a 5-mile stretch of the Ottawa River in Toledo, Ohio, that posed a risk to people and wildlife—including major sportfish such as walleye and perch.
Strong Support for Restoration Plan
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was an outgrowth of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, a plan crafted by 1,500 citizens that called for $20 billion (in 2005 dollars) to restore the lakes. That plan has been championed by environmentalists, businesses, industry, and local, state and federal officials, including strong bi-partisan support in Congress and the White House.
“Great Lakes restoration is uniting people and places across the region,” said Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “With a single voice and targeted action, we can one day put an end to beach closings, fish consumption advisories and other pernicious indicators of an unhealthy past.”
Despite local success, there are many signs that the Great Lakes are unhealthy: toxic chemicals, invasive species, sewage dumped in the lakes, disappearing habitats for wildlife. When the lakes are unhealthy, it is a drain on our economy and it means fewer jobs for the region. Just as disturbing, unhealthy lakes mean fewer people can enjoy our beaches, our fishing, our waterways and our clean drinking water.
“The nation cannot afford to stop protecting the Great Lakes—more than 30 million people depend on them for drinking water,” said John Jackson, program director for Great Lakes United and co-chair of the Healing Our Waters Coalition. “We have solutions to protect our Great Lakes, drinking water, jobs and way of life. We need to keep using them so that people can enjoy the lakes now and for generations to come.”
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 120 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. For more information visit http://www.healthylakes.org or follow us on twitter @healthylakes.
CONTACT: Jordan Lubetkin, Lubetkin@nwf.org, (734) 904-1589 (mobile)