It is with regret that the Great Lakes Commission announces that no conservation grants will be awarded this year under the Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control, due to elimination of federal funding for the program.
Specific funding for the program was omitted from the 2007 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) appropriations bill, under the “no earmarks” rules of Congress. Subsequent efforts to secure funding from the general budget of the Department of Agriculture were unsuccessful.
The Great Lakes Commission is continuing to work with members of Congress regarding the benefits and importance of the Great Lakes Basin Program to this region and the need to reestablish funding for the program in FY 2008.
“The Great Lakes Basin Program is one of the main programs singled out by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration for reducing sedimentation to Great Lakes waters and is the only conservation program specific to the Great Lakes authorized under the current Farm Bill,” said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission. “It’s disappointing that, after all the effort that went into the Regional Collaboration, we have been unable to get continued funding for one of the most successful programs it identified.”
Since its inception in 1991, the Great Lakes Basin Program has supported 389 sediment reduction and erosion control projects in the Great Lakes basin, protecting 126,000 acres of land and keeping an estimated 1.08 million tons of sediment out of Great Lakes waters. The nearly $14 million in federal grants awarded to local conservation organizations during that time has leveraged more than $4.6 million in additional nonfederal matching funds.
A total of 117 grant applications were received for the 2007 fiscal year.
The Great Lakes Commission is seeking to have the Basin Program reauthorized in the upcoming 2007 Farm Bill and to have the program receive funding in the next fiscal year budget. Both the House and Senate versions of the new Farm Bill now under consideration include authorization for the Basin Program. The administration has not sought funding for the program in its proposed budget for FY2008. Congress will ultimately decide appropriations for the current Farm Bill.
For immediate release: July 18, 2007
Contact: Tom Crane, firstname.lastname@example.org, office: 734-971-9135