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GLIN==> engo statement at great lakes restoration conference



Great Lakes groups endorse state and local leadership of Great Lakes recovery plan, call for reform of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Statement of Great Lakes United, Lake Michigan Federation, National Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club

Presented at "Moving Toward a Sustainable Great Lakes: Diverse Partners, Shared Vision," a conference sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Great Lakes Commission, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

June 25, 2003

Great Lakes recovery

Our organizations wish to emphasize that Great Lakes recovery efforts must move forward under the clear leadership of state and local elected officials -- governors, premiers, and mayors. They, in cooperation with the Great Lakes Congressional delegation and Parliament, must drive both the planning and implementation of any Great Lakes recovery strategy. We feel this is the only way to assure long-term, efficient, and effective deployment of public and private resources toward restoration goals. 

We look forward to being invited to the table by these officials and providing input in collaboration with federal agencies in the United States and Canada, and the region's private sector, to design a compelling case for meaningful and sizable Great Lakes recovery projects.

While they are important players in any planning and implementation process, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Great Lakes Commission cannot substitute for this leadership from state and local elected leaders. For that reason, we would like to clarify that our participation in this conference in no way implies any relaxing of our position that the governors, premiers and mayors need to lead the planning and implementation of a Great Lakes recovery effort.

It is vital that Great Lakes recovery efforts be led by state and local leaders to ensure the highest degree of accountability and public involvement in designing plans and activities to protect and restore the Great Lakes. While we recognize that the Corps is evolving, in the past it has demonstrated a bias toward large-scale construction and engineering solutions driven primarily by economic development objectives, as opposed to smaller-scale, less costly approaches that emphasize ecosystem protection. The Great Lakes Commission is not sufficiently representative of Great Lakes citizens and communities to ensure that goals and objectives of the plan are based on truly protecting and restoring the Great Lakes, and not economic development activities that may directly conflict with recovery efforts.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reform

In the coming weeks and months, the U.S. Congress will debate the Water Resources Development Act, the omnibus bill authorizing projects and work for the Army Corps of Engineers. Our organizations and many of our colleagues across the United States believe it is essential that before Congress approves any new projects or work by the Corps, fundamental reform measures are essential to correct serious deficiencies in the Corps' planning and decision-making processes. A number of critical reports and investigations, including those from the General Accounting Office, the National Academy of Sciences. and even the U.S. Army itself, have recommended and endorsed many of these reforms. Some of the reform measures needed include: independent review of costly or controversial Corps projects; better access to information and increased stakeholder involvement; addressing project backlog; and updating Corps principles and guidelines, mitigation processes and cost sharing rules.


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Reg Gilbert
Senior Coordinator
Great Lakes United

Buffalo State College, Cassety Hall
1300 Elmwood Ave.
Buffalo, New York, 14222

716-886-0142
Fax: -0303

www.glu.org
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