ANN ARBOR, MICH. (July 18, 2018)—The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is urging the U.S. EPA to continue to engage the public in an effort to put forward a strong, focused action plan to protect and restore the Great Lakes. The agency is holding a public engagement session tonight in Milwaukee to solicit input to help guide the crafting of the EPA’s Great Lakes Action Plan 3, which will set restoration and funding priorities from 2020-2024.
“A strong action plan, that truly reflects the public’s input, is essential to maintain progress on Great Lakes restoration,” said Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Federal restoration efforts are producing results, but serious threats remain—underscoring the need for a strong, focused plan and full funding from the White House and Congress to see the plan through.”
Securing a strong Action Plan 3 is a top priority for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. The EPA has stated its intent to release a draft action plan in the fall. The Coalition will be submitting formal comments on what it would like to see in the plan.
Over the last nine years, the U.S. Congress has invested more than $2.9 billion in more than 4,000 projects as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Restoration projects in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York are helping to restore fish and wildlife habitat, clean up toxic pollution, reduce polluted runoff from cities and farms, and fight invasive species.
But serious threats remain to the Great Lakes, and to the people and communities that rely on them, from toxic algal outbreaks that poison drinking water, close beaches, and hurt tourism, to ongoing toxic contamination that poses a threat to the health of people and wildlife.
The public meeting in Milwaukee tonight is the fourth of six public engagement sessions.
“We appreciate the EPA’s commitment to public engagement through the six community listening sessions,” said Ambs. “Continued public engagement is essential for the program’s success, and we encourage the agency to provide a robust public comment period and engagement strategy when the draft Action Plan 3 is released. This restoration effort has made progress to date because a wide array of people, representing businesses, industry, Tribes, conservation organizations, and community groups, as well as local, state, and federal officials, have worked together to craft a shared set of Great Lakes restoration goals. We want to do everything we can to make sure that this sense of unity and purpose continues so that can protect this vital resource for people now and for generations to come.”