Great Lakes Commission announces new projects to benefit Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region

Ann Arbor, Mich. -The Great Lakes Commission, an interstate compact agency that advances regional environmental protection and sustainable development goals, announces the receipt of more than $5.1 million in federal and foundation grants for program and project initiatives in FY2001. “Our objective is to support the priorities of our member states and provinces,” explains Chair Nat Robinson. “These grants, which include new-start and ongoing initiatives, are all directed at the protection and sustainable use of our precious natural resources.”

Project-specific initiatives augment the Commission advocacy responsibilities, which are supported by member dues. Its enabling federal and state legislation, the Great Lakes Basin Compact, calls on the Commission to represent the region’s interests in the areas of resource management, environmental protection, transportation and sustainable development.

In the areas of Resource Management and Environmental Quality, new start and ongoing projects will:

• Improve water resources management decisionmaking. A new multi-year, multi-agency effort is underway to develop a water resources management decision support system for the Great Lakes, laying the framework for the data, information and process required to ensure timely and well-informed public policy decisions concerning the use and management of Great Lakes surface and groundwater resources.

• Accelerate efforts for aquatic nuisance species prevention and control. Projects include the development of a regional ballast water management policy position; update of an information/education strategy; and an assessment of progress under U.S. federal law over the last decade.

• Improve water quality by controlling agricultural and urban nonpoint source pollution. The Commission will award grants for local demonstration projects, and coordinate the efforts of soil and water conservation professionals.

• Advance prevention and response capability for oil and hazardous material spills. Federal emergency response and planning efforts will be supported through geographic information system (GIS) map products and contingency planning assistance to local, state, federal and private groups. A new web-based Freshwater Spills Information Center will provide the regulated and response communities with immediate access to data and information.

• Advance cleanup of toxic “hot spots.” The Commission will support the Statewide Public Advisory Council for Michigan’s Areas of Concern (AOC) Program, including training and capacity building for local groups. The Commission will also assist the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in reaching out to agencies, public advisory committees and others that can benefit from the Corps’ resources in AOC cleanup.

• Strengthen management of the “sixth” Great Lake. A binational Lake St. Clair Management Initiative will elevate the profile of the lake, coordinate and enhance U.S. and Canadian management activities, and address gaps and unmet needs.

• Improve inventory monitoring programs in the Lake Michigan basin. The Commission will collaborate with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local representatives to develop findings and recommendations for improving monitoring linkages, and produce a database to display monitoring station data online in a map format that is searchable geographically and by content. The Commission will also support the Lake Michigan Monitoring Coordination Council, a forum for coordinating and supporting monitoring activities and developing a shared resource of information, based on documented standards and protocols, that is usable across agency and jurisdictional boundaries.

• Improve water quality through watershed management. The Commission will assist watershed leaders in Ohio with comprehensive planning efforts. In Michigan and Indiana, a bi-state process for environmental planning in the St. Joseph River watershed will be developed.

Communications and Information Management projects will:

• Strengthen air quality management decisionmaking. A binational Great Lakes Regional Air Toxic Emissions Inventory will be conducted annually and yield point, area and mobile source data on 188 pollutants, and will feature an enhanced mercury inventory.

• Apply GIS technologies to policy issues to improve decisionmaking. An online library of GIS data will allow officials in the binational Great Lakes basin to access and apply unprecedented levels of geographic information to resource management decisions.

• Promote public health through beach closures information.Internet access to water quality monitoring and closure information on hundreds of Great Lakes public beaches will be provided as a pilot project for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s national Beaches Environment Assessment, Closure and Health (BEACH) Program. Also, a new web site will be developed focusing on Great Lakes human health information.

• Promote classroom attention to Great Lakes issues. Educators will be provided with an online library of educational materials, including an information exchange service and expert speakers bureau via The Education And Curriculum Homesite (TEACH Great Lakes). TEACH Great Lakes is a new component of the Great Lakes Information Network .

• Form partnerships with scientists around the world. A Baltic Fellows program will bring scientists from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania to U.S. and Canadian host agencies for information exchange and collaboration.

Transportation and Sustainable Development projects will:

• Promote sustainable land-use practices. Brownfields redevelopment strategies will reduce development pressure on greenfields. Efforts include a web site, case studies, local workshops, and recommended public and private sector tools.

• Strengthen maritime transportation infrastructure. Construction appropriations will be sought for a new large lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., a decades-old goal of the maritime community. Intensive, eight-state negotiations yielded an agreement on the required nonfederal cost share.

• Reduce maritime transportation costs and improve environmental quality. Disposal options for dredged material will be developed, keeping critical waterways open while disposing of/reusing material in an environmentally responsible way.

• Serve the recreational boating community. Recreational boating research will provide the basis for future economic impact studies of recreational boating in the region.

Support for the above projects has been secured from numerous sources, including the C.S. Mott Foundation, Great Lakes Protection Fund, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (Natural Resources Conservation Service), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Geological Survey.

These new-start and expanded projects are among 50 priority initiatives comprising the Great Lakes Commission’s Work Plan for FY2001. All address elements of the Commission’s five-year Strategic Plan.

For immediate release: October 26, 2000
Contact: Michael J. Donahue,


The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Nathaniel E. Robinson (Wisconsin), is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency created by state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of state legislators, agency officials and governors’ appointees from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Quebec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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