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Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Fully funding the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $475 million is a top priority for the Healing Our Water-Great Lakes Coalition.
Read the coalition’s letters to Congress and the Obama Adminsitration:
Coalition urges Obama Administration to maintain funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at 2010 levels (January 7, 2011)
About the Great Lakes Restoration Initaitive
The initiative invests in solutions to some of the most urgent threats to the Lakes, including:
• Toxic pollution that poses a threat to people and wildlife;
• Destruction of wetlands and habitat that harm water quality, threaten wildlife and undermine outdoor recreation ecnomy;
• Polluted run-off from farms and cities that has harmful impacts on drinking water supplies, water quality, wildlife, and recreational opporunities; and,
• Invasive species such as the Asian carp.
President Obama unveiled the Great Lakes Restoration Intiaitve in his inaugural budget in 2009. Later that fall, the U.S. Congress enacted and fully funded the initiative at $475 million for the fiscal year 2010 budget.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has distributed the first year of funding to its own programs, other federal agencies and nonfederal partners through competitive grants, cooperative agreements and contracts. Work has begun on over 300 local projects that will improve the health of the Great Lakes.
Restoration Projects Delivering Results
The Great Lakes Restoration Intiative has been a shot in the arm in the effort to restore the Great Lakes. Local communities are already benefiting from projects that imprive water quality, support recreational opportunities and save communities money.
In Benzie County, Mich., for example, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds are helping the Benzie County Road Commission replace failing, eroding culverts with a new bridge that will improve water quality, allow fish passage and save taxpayers money on maintenance and dredging costs.
Restoration activities also put people to work in good-paying jobs, from hydrologists to engineers, landscape architects to truck drivers and more. In Michigan, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funds helped restore 141 acres of wetlands adjacent to the Flint River at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. Among the men and women who helped complete the project: engineers, excavator operators, silt fence installers, cement truck operators and quarry manufacturers. The project protides habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife and improve water quality of the Flint River and Saginaw Bay.
Great Lakes restoration programs create good-paying jobs. For example:
• 125 jobs were created for a $10 million project to restore fish and wildlife habitat in Muskegon Lake, a Great Lakes Area of Concern in Michigan.
• 177 people are employed to control the invasive sea lamprey in the Great Lakes, which costs the U.S. and Canadian governments $20 million annually.
• 174 jobs were created, some of which were filled by at-risk youth, to remove dams and other barriers in a 150-mile stretch of the Milwaukee River system.
Restoration programs also lead to long-term econmic benefit. A Brookings Institution report shows that for every $1 invested in Great Lakes restoration results in a $2 return in the form of increased fishing, tourism and home values.
With a proven track record of success and a 2-to-1 return on investment, Great Lakes restoration is one of the best returns on the federal dollar in the budget.
Urgent Need for Action
Continued funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is critical, because there is still so much work to be done. If we cut the funding now, it will only cost more later because all of these projects will only get harder and more expensive the longer we wait.
The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition supports full funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at $475 million to protect our Lakes, drinking water, jobs, public health and way of life.
• Great Lakes Restoration Intiative fact sheet
• Report: “Great Lakes Restoration: Delivering Results”
• Report: “Progress and Promise: 21 Stories that Showcase Successful Great Lakes Restoration Projects”
• Report: “Faces of Restoration: People Working to Restore the Great Lakes”
• U.S. EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative web site
• Federal Great Lakes restoration web site
• U.S. EPA Great Lakes Accountability System