Speak up for the Great Lakes

Calling all Great Lakes advocates: We want you in Cleveland this Thursday (Oct. 29).

That’s when President Obama’s Oceans Policy Task Force will hold its only meeting in the Great Lakes region. The meeting will be held from 4-7 p,m, at the Downtown Marriott in Cleveland.

This is the only chance for people in this region to provide comment on the Task Force’s interim report, which you can read here.

The president formed the Ocean Policy Task Force in June to develop: A national policy that ensures the protection, maintenance, and restoration of the health of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources; a framework for agency coordination in implementing the policy; a set of priority actions that will help advance the policy; and a framework for coordinated coastal and ocean spatial planning.

That’s an ultra-wonky way of saying the president wants federal agencies to get their collective acts together to better protect and restore our nation’s oceans and the Great Lakes.

We want to make sure the task force understands all the hard work that has been done to restore the Great Lakes and how much more needs to be done. In other words, we don’t want the task force to treat the Great Lakes like a redheaded stepchild in a family of blondes.

The Great Lakes are every bit as important as the oceans are to the United States, ecologically and economically. But the lakes also have unique issues and needs.

We need people to tell the task force that the Great Lakes — which collectively contain the world’s largest freshwater ocean — are unique and deserve special recognition and treatment in the national oceans policy.

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