EPA awards $883K to Great Lakes Restoration Investments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a $607,000 grant to the Save the Dunes Conservation Fund Inc. and a $276,156 grant to the University of Notre Dame under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.  These investments are among 70 totaling nearly $30 million that EPA is awarding under the GLRI in 2011.

“The point of President Obama’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is to rehabilitate the ecosystem that is the foundation to this region’s economy,” said Cameron Davis, the EPA’s Senior Advisor on Great Lakes. “If we want the regional economy to thrive, we need to accelerate our efforts to comprehensively attack problems such as habitat loss, invasive species and pollution that causes algae that choke beaches and fish life. Today’s investment will help make this happen.”

Davis announced the grants on Aug. 19 at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. EPA will continue announcing additional investments across the Great Lakes basin in the weeks ahead.

The University will use the funding to assess the live bait trade for bighead carp, silver carp, grass carp, black carp and other invasive species. Save the Dunes will use the funding for work with the City of Valparaiso to retrofit the Thorgren detention basin in the Salt Creek watershed. This project will prevent phosphorus and sediment from reaching Lake Michigan.

“By investing in efforts like the Thorgren Basin in Valparaiso, we are making an investment in the future of our communities, our environment and our quality of life,” said Congressman Pete Visclosky. “It is essential that we take the necessary steps to improve our water infrastructure in order to protect both our public health and our waterways.  I commend Save the Dunes and Mayor Costas, along with the city of Valparaiso for their efforts on this project and their consistent dedication to the communities and people of Northwest Indiana.”

Funded projects will advance the goals and objectives of the GLRI Action Plan, which EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson released in cooperation with 15 other participating agencies and several Great Lakes governors in February 2010.

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The Great Lakes provide 20 million Americans with drinking water and underpin a multi-billion dollar economy.  In February 2009, President Obama proposed the GLRI, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades.

The Action Plan, which covers FY 2010 through 2014, was developed by a task force of 16 federal departments and agencies to implement the president’s historic initiative.  It calls for aggressive efforts to address five urgent priority ‘Focus Areas’:

• Cleaning up toxics and toxic hot spot areas of concern
• Combating invasive species
• Promoting near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off
• Restoring wetlands and other habitats
• Tracking progress, education and working with strategic partners

The plan also provides accountability by including measures of progress and benchmarks for success over the next three years.

In addition to the EPA, the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force to coordinate federal and binational restoration efforts includes:

• White House Council on Environmental Quality
• U.S. Department of Agriculture
• U.S. Department of Commerce
• U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
• U.S. Department of Homeland Security
• U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
• U.S. Department of State
• U.S. Department of the Army
• U.S. Department of Interior
• U.S. Department of Transportation

Some of the other federal agencies that are part of the task force have their own grant programs under the GLRI.This recent EPA announcement only covers the agency’s grant program.

FY 2011 awards will be published on the multi-agency website at https://www.glri.us/.

More information on the President’s GLRI and Action Plan are available at the same site.