Plan lays out steps to protect water quality, control invasive species and restore habitat
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy released a new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Action Plan that lays out steps that federal agencies will take during the next five years to protect water quality, control invasive species and restore habitat in the largest surface fresh water system in the world. McCarthy, who chairs the federal Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, released the plan at a meeting of Great Lakes Mayors in Chicago.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest surface fresh water system in the world – to provide additional resources to make progress toward the most critical long-term goals for this important ecosystem.
The GLRI Action Plan summarizes the actions federal agencies plan to implement during Fiscal Years 2015 through 2019 using GLRI funding. They will build on restoration and protection work carried out under the first Action Plan, with a major focus on:
- Cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern;
- Preventing and controlling invasive species;
- Reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful and nuisance algal blooms; and
- Restoring habitat to protect native species.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources have helped fund cleanup actions required to delist five Great Lakes Areas of Concern and to formally delist the Presque Isle Bay Area of Concern—a major change from the 25 years before the Initiative, during which only one Area of Concern was cleaned up and delisted. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources have also been used to double the acreage enrolled in agricultural conservation programs in watersheds where phosphorous runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and Green Bay. So far, GLRI resources have been used to fund more than 2,000 projects to improve water quality, to protect and restore native habitat and species, to prevent and control invasive species and to address other Great Lakes environmental problems.
The Great Lakes Interagency Task Force is chaired by the EPA administrator and includes the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State and Transportation.