EPA Announces First 2013 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant and 2105 Task Force Priorities

EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe recently announced a new 2013 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant today at Great Lakes Week in Milwaukee. The grant will provide the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with more than $1.5 million for several Milwaukee Estuary and Great Lakes projects to help restore beneficial uses to the Milwaukee Estuary areas of concern, as it is one of 29 highly contaminated hotspots on the US side of the Great Lakes border or shared with Canada.  These grant projects will aim to:

  • Inventory fish and wildlife populations in the Milwaukee area;
  • Locate uncontrolled sources of sewage and evaluate their impacts on water quality;
    Restore and expand grassland habitat in the area and increase breeding opportunities for threatened grassland species; and
  • Assess the health of microscopic aquatic communities and of bottom-dwelling organisms in four Wisconsin areas of concern (AOC), including the Milwaukee Estuary.

In addition, Perciasepe announced the Great Lakes Federal Interagency Task Force (IATF) priorities for fiscal year 2015 to help states, municipalities, tribes, business interests, environmental groups, the academic community and other partners plan their activities. On behalf of the federal agencies that met in Milwaukee today, he noted the following:

  • Progress is being made in the development of the next Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Action Plan for FY 2015-2019 and will be released for public comment in early 2014.
  • In FY 2015, the GLRI will likely continue with an emphasis on five focus areas — Toxics, Habitat, Nearshore Health, Invasive Species and Accountability.
  • The next Action Plan will also emphasize the need to ensure that GLRI projects are not undermined because of changing weather patterns, in addition to many other needs raised by the Great Lakes community.

The IATF is made up of 11 federal departments and is tasked with overseeing management of the GLRI, which President Obama proposed and a bipartisan Congress has continued to fund. For more information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, visit http://www.glri.us/.