US EPA released a five-point-action-plan to guide the Obama Administration’s efforts to restore the Great Lakes. The action plan, which the administrator unveiled at a meeting with governors from the Great Lakes states, lays out the most urgent threats facing the Great Lakes and sets out goals, objectives and key actions over the next five years to help restore the lakes.
In February 2009, President Obama proposed $475 million for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the most significant investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. The action plan, which covers FY 2010 through 2014 and was developed by 16 federal agencies as part of the federal inter-agency task force chaired by Administrator Jackson, will help guide the administration’s efforts to implement this historic initiative to restore and protect this natural and economic treasure.
EPA’s action plan directs aggressive action under five priority “focus areas” the task force has identified as vital for restoring the Great Lakes. They are:
- Protection and cleanup of the most polluted areas in the lakes: The task force will work with state and municipal partners to clean up toxic hotspots so that these critical “working waterways” are put back to work for healthy fishing and recreation.
- Combating invasive species: Invasive species pose a unique threat to the Great Lakes, and the plan outlines a number of steps to keep such species out of the lakes. For example, recognizing that Asian carp continue to be an emerging threat, we are planning to allocate additional funds under the Initiative to tackle this problem.
- Protection of high priority watersheds and reduced runoff from urban, suburban and, agricultural sources: The Great Lakes are renowned for their beaches. Initiative funding will be targeted toward, among other things, reducing pollution so they can stay open more often for people to enjoy.
- Restoration of wetlands and other habitats: The action plan includes a first-ever assessment of the entire 530,000 acre Great Lakes coastal wetland, to help the task force begin to restore troubled areas; and
- Implementation of accountability measures, learning initiatives, outreach and strategic partnerships: The task force will work closely with the Great Lakes states, non-profits, stakeholder groups and Canada to protect and restore the lakes.
For more information on the full plan: http://www.greatlakesrestoration.us