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GLIN==> Lake Erie Protection Fund Finances $5.2 Million in Grant Projects



Posted on behalf of Debbie Katterheinrich <debbie.katter@web.epa.ohio.gov>

---
PRESS RELEASE

March 29, 2000

Lake Erie Protection Fund Donations Finance
$5.2 Million in Water Quality Improvements

TOLEDO, OH -- Lake Erie is Ohio's greatest natural resource, providing us
with a seemingly endless supply of our most fundamental need -- water.  When
Ohioans purchase the Lake Erie License Plate, they are helping to finance
projects focusing on protecting and restoring Lake Erie and its waterways.

Lake Erie was the magnet that drew our forebears to its shores more than 200
years ago.  Lake Erie is not only a a valuable natural resource, but also
provides identity and joy to the millions who live and play on its shores.

Over the last 25 years, great strides have been made to improve the water
quality of Lake Erie with the investment of millions of dollars in sewage
treatment plant upgrades, pollution prevention technologies and better
treatment of industrial wastewater.  The Lake Erie Protection Fund is a
grant program administered through the Ohio Lake Erie Commission to award
grants for projects that benefit Ohio citizens through the preservation,
protection and restoration of Lake Erie.

Since 1992, the Commission has funded about 130 projects worth $5.2 million
in grants from the Lake Erie Protection Fund.  The major source of revenue
for the Lake Erie Protection Fund is the Lake Erie License Plate. This plate
was introduced in 1993 as the state of Ohio's first environmental plate,
featuring a rendition of the historic Marblehead Lighthouse designed by
artist Ben Richmond.

Since its inception, Lake Erie License Plate sales have generated
approximately $1 million per year for the Lake Erie Protection Fund,
financing projects that protect and preserve Lake Erie.  "Without Ohioans'
continued Lake Erie plate purchases, the Ohio Lake Erie Commission could not
have made the progress on lake restoration and protection projects that we
have in the last seven years," said Dr. Jeff Busch, executive director of
the Commission.  "We are grateful to the citizens who support our efforts by
putting the Lake Erie plate on their cars, trucks, vans, trailers and
campers."

The Lake Erie Protection Fund uses 100 percent of each donation to provide
grants to worthy organizations that pass through a rigorous screening
process of evaluations by public and private peer reviewers.  Proposals are
then prioritized by an independent selection committee and submitted to the
Ohio Lake Erie Commission.  The Commission -- comprised of the directors of
the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Departments of Natural
Resources, Agriculture, Health, Transportation and Development -- is
responsible for final funding decisions, LEPF operating expenses and overall
program management.

Key projects funded through the Lake Erie Protection Fund have addressed:
 understanding the ecological impact of zebra mussels in Lake Erie,
providing fisheries and water quality managers valuable information for
guiding the future stewardship of the lake;
 reducing agricultural sediment and pesticide runoff polluting Lake Erie,
making progress towards the goal of restoring healthy biological communities
in Ohio's tributaries and coastal areas;
 tracking sources of human and animal waste to eliminate bacterial
contamination that currently plague many Lake Erie swimming beaches;
 managing walleye and yellow perch stocks, ensuring that Lake Erie's world
class fisheries are sustained for future generations of Ohioans;
 assisting manufacturing companies to eliminate toxins from their products;
and
 developing the Lake Erie Protection and Restoration Plan, a long-term
strategic plan to direct Ohio's future efforts in protecting and restoring
Lake Erie and its watershed.

The Lake Erie Protection Fund continues to provide a valuable funding source
for projects that contribute to the continued resurgence of Lake Erie.
Through the Lake Erie License Plate Program, the Lake Erie Protection Fund
provides Ohio citizens the opportunity to make private donations that are
allocated directly to restoring and improving Ohio's greatest natural
resource ~ Lake Erie.

To purchase the Lake Erie License Plate, call the Bureau of Motor Vehicles
toll-free number, 1-888-PLATES3.  For more information on the Lake Erie
Protection Fund, contact the Ohio Lake Erie Commission at 419/245-2514, by
e-mail at oleo@www.epa.state.oh.us, or visit the Commission Web site at
http://www.epa.state.oh.us/oleo/.


- 30 -

For More information, contact:
Debbie Katterheinrich
Public Information Specialist
Ohio Lake Erie Commission
419/245-2514
debbie.katter@www.epa.state.oh.us


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