Working together to restore the Great Lakes

Ann Arbor, Mich. — The Great Lakes are the freshwater jewels of the entire world. But it will take many hands to restore their luster.

Building Partnerships for Restoration will be the theme of the 2002 Annual Meeting of the Great Lakes Commission, Oct. 14-15 in Cleveland, Ohio. The meeting will help lay the foundation for the development and implementation of a comprehensive Great Lakes Restoration Plan that presents a vision for the region and a blueprint to achieve it.

“There are many challenges facing the Great Lakes –- controlling invasive species, protecting wetlands and coastal habitats, cleaning up polluted areas, and providing for the sustainable use and mangement of our natrual resources,” said Nat Robinson, Commission chair. “Fortunately, there’s growing interest in building a large-scale, consensus based plan to address restoration needs. Our goal is to showcase emerging initiatives and help the process move forward.”

The meeting, at Cleveland’s Sheraton City Centre Hotel, will review and assess current efforts to manage and protect the Great Lakes, and explore restoration planning initiatives that provide a blueprint for the future. Participants will also look ahead to the next Congress and plan strategy for efforts to ensure the region’s environmental and economic prosperity.

Representatives of the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) and the Auditor General of Canada will present their agencies’ assessments of government performance in cleaning up the Great Lakes. The Commission will also release interim findings of its Water Resources Management Decision Support System (WRMDSS) project, which is providing scientific and technical support for the implementation of Annex 2001 to the Great Lakes Charter, an agreement signed by the Great Lakes governors and premiers to address issues of water withdrawal and use.

Other issues to be addressed include how the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region is faring in the FY2003 appropriations process in Congress and the successes achieved by the Commission’s Great Lakes Program to Ensure Environmental and Economic Prosperity. Participants will include the Commissioners and Associate Commissioners representing the eight states and two provinces of the Commission, as well as representatives of public agencies and private organizations from the U.S. and Canada with responsibility for, and interest in, Great Lakes-St. Lawrence issues.

Business sessions and special presentations on Oct. 15 will be preceded by field trip opportunities on the 14th (e.g., Lake Erie Islands tour) and a reception at the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District. A joint reception with attendees of the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC), a biennial assessment of the Great Lakes ecosystem by the United States and Canada, will be featured as well at the conclusion of the annual meeting.

All events at the annual meeting will be open to the public. A detailed program will be available in mid-September. Registration fees will be waived for those with media credentials.

For immediate release: September 3, 2002
Contact: Mike Donahue, mdonahue@glc.org, office: 734-971-9135

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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 Québec 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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