Oct 30, 2019

BIG News! EPA Announces New 5-Year Plan to Accelerate Restoration of the Great Lakes

EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Cathy Stepp unveiled an updated and aggressive action plan under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The GLRI Action Plan III will guide the actions of federal agencies and their many partners over the next 5 years to protect and restore the Great Lakes — fueling local and regional economies and community revitalization efforts across the basin. The agency also announced $11 million in funding for grants to support GLRI projects in Michigan.

"The Trump Administration is taking action to improve water quality while boosting local economies across the country," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "More than $2.4 billion from the GLRI has funded over 4,000 restoration projects. The GLRI Action Plan III and the grant funding we are announcing today will continue to accelerate this great work to the benefit of millions of Americans living in and visiting the region."

"The Great Lakes are a regional, national and international treasure," said Regional Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Cathy Stepp. "It will take ambitious, dedicated and collaborative efforts by federal, state, tribal, local and non-governmental partners to ensure that our magnificent Great Lakes not only endure — but thrive."

"President Trump's EPA has made tremendous environmental progress and their plan to accelerate the restoration of the Great Lakes is a win for conservationists and Hoosiers," said Senator Mike Braun (IN). "This decisive action will keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, reduce harmful algal blooms and protect fish, birds and other animals whose habit relies on the Great Lakes."

"The work done through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) ensures our most treasured natural resource remains vibrant. Through President Trump's support and Administrator Wheeler's strong commitment to the Great Lakes, this new 5 year plan will provide a strong focus for the critical mission of the GLRI. This vision is a key element to protecting the Great Lakes and preserving the health of our communities, our rich sportsman heritage, and the economy of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula," said Congressman Jack Bergman (MI-01).

"The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has played an important and critical role in preserving and protecting the Great Lakes," said Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02), Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. "The announcement of the GLRI Action Plan III will build on this success and strengthen the cleanup of legacy pollution, restore habitat, and combat invasive species across Michigan. I am glad to see Administrator Wheeler work to make the Great Lakes a national priority."

"I have worked alongside my colleagues in Congress to advocate to the administration about how important the Great Lakes are to everyone in Michigan and I welcome today's announcement for the next five years of the GLRI," said Congressman John Moolenaar (MI-04). "Working with partners including CMU and Ducks Unlimited, the GLRI has done incredible work to protect the Great Lakes for future generations and this new plan will continue that commitment in the years ahead."

"In Michigan, the Great Lakes impact every facet of our daily lives, from the significant economic benefits to all the recreational activities we enjoy," said Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07). "The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has supported many successful projects and is critical to cleaning up pollutants, stopping the spread of invasive species like Asian Carp, and reducing algal blooms. I am pleased to see the EPA take important action to expand these efforts to help ensure the Great Lakes are in good health for future generations."

"The EPA's updated action plan sets an aggressive path forward to protect and restore the Great Lakes under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has been a catalyst for unparalleled federal agency coordination to fund more than 4,800 projects that address the largest environmental issues facing the Great Lakes. I look forward to working with EPA to continue improving water quality, protecting and restoring native habitats and species, and preventing and controlling invasive species," said Congressman Paul Mitchell (MI-10).

"As someone who grew up on the shores of Lake Erie, I'm proud to be a champion of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in Congress," said Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14). "The Great Lakes provide more than 1.5 million jobs, supply 90% of our nation's fresh surface water, support over 3,500 species of plants and animals, and generate $62 billion in wages every year. I applaud the Administration for recognizing the importance of this vital program and look forward to continuing our work to protect and preserve the invaluable natural resource and economic powerhouse that is the Great Lakes System."

"The Great Lakes are critical to Northeast Wisconsin's economy and way of life," said Congressman Mike Gallagher (WI-08). "We've seen firsthand how GLRI dollars successfully reduced harmful algae in Green Bay, and I'm glad that GLRI Action Plan III will build upon this success and take action to ensure the Great Lakes are clean for generations to come."

"The partnership between the EPA and its Federal and State partners announced today on the GLRI Plan III is vitally important to the environmental quality of our Great Lakes. These efforts are crucial to our entire region's economy and quality of life for our residents and for those who visit and enjoy Michigan's lakes and streams," said Pat Williams, Township Supervisor, Canton, MI.

The GLRI has been a catalyst for unprecedented federal agency coordination, which has in turn produced unprecedented results. Under GLRI's former Action Plans I and II, GLRI accomplished the formal delisting of the Presque Isle Bay (Penn.), Deer Lake (Mich.), and White Lake (Mich.) Areas of Concern (AOCs) and moved a number of the remaining AOCs closer to delisting through the removal of numerous environmental impairments. GLRI resources have also been used for projects that have prevented more than one million pounds of phosphorus from entering the Great Lakes, reducing the excess phosphorus that contributes to harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay, and Green Bay. The GLRI produces economic benefits as well. A 2018 University of Michigan study shows that every dollar of federal spending on GLRI projects between 2010 and 2016 will produce $3.35 in additional economic activity in the Great Lakes region through 2036.

In addition to GLRI Action Plan III, the agency announced that it has recently awarded five GLRI grants for restoration work in Michigan, totaling nearly $11 million:

  • $2.2 million grant to Alliance for Rouge Communities (ARC) to restore Tamarack Creek and Johnson Creek habitat flood plains in Rouge River AOC.
  • $380,000 grant to Wayne County to design habitat restoration projects in Rouge River AOC.
  • $3.7 million grant to Michigan Department of Natural Resources to restore the natural surface water flow in flatwoods of Belle Isle in Detroit River AOC.
  • $815,500 grant to Alliance for Rouge Communities to restore wetlands in Seeley Creek in the Rouge River AOC.
  • $3.5 million to Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to continue restoration work at 12 impacted sites on the Great Lakes and to coordinate the state's lake-wide management plans for Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie as part of a new 3-year grant for $10.5 million.

To read the GLRI Action Plan III and related information visit: https://g