Oct 23, 2013

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Background and Issues (PDF)

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Background and Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The Great Lakes ecosystem is recognized by many as an international natural resource that has been altered by human activities and climate variabi lity. These alterations have led to degraded water quality, diminished habitat, lower native fish and wildlife populations, and an altered ecosystem. In response, the federal governments of the United States and Canada and the state and provincial governments in the Great Lakes basin are implementing several restoration activities. These activities range from mitigating th e harmful effects of toxic substances in lake waters to restoring fish habitat.

Most laws and efforts in the past addressed specific issues in the Great Lakes; a few addressed issues at the ecosystem level. This caused the Government Accountability Office and others to express the need for initiating and implementin g a comprehensive approach for restoring the Great Lakes ecosystem. In 2010, the Great Lakes Re storation Initiative (GLRI) was proposed and implemented by the Obama Administration. The aim of GLRI is to restore the Great Lakes ecosystem under one initiative. Specifically, the GLRI is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem by directing activities to address five focus areas: (1) toxic substances and Areas of Concern (these are areas in the Great Lakes that are environmentally degraded); (2) invasive species; (3) nearshore health and nonpoint source pollution; (4) habitat and wildlife protection and restoration; and (5) accountability, monitoring, evaluation, communication, and partnerships.

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