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GLIN==> Great Lakes Restoration Conference Kicks Off in Grand Rapids

Healing Our WatersSM¯Great Lakes Coalition
Citizens, Industry, Tribes, Conservationists 
Convene First Annual Great Lakes Conference

'We Have the Blueprint to Restore the Great Lakes,' 
Say Conservation Leaders, 'Now We Need to Act on It' 

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (SEPT. 8)¯Citizens, industry leaders, government officials, Tribal representatives, and conservationists are gathering today and Friday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the First Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference to encourage state and federal elected officials to invest billions of dollars to clean up the Great Lakes.
The conference, September 8-9, comes as the movement to restore the Great Lakes gains momentum, stemming in large part from the July release of a $20 billion plan to restore the Great Lakes ecosystem. The plan was drafted and agreed upon by citizens, industry leaders, farmers, Tribal representatives, federal and state agency officials, and conservationists as part of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, a fast-track process established by President Bush to craft a Great Lakes restoration plan.
"We have the blueprint to restore the Great Lakes," said Tom Kiernan, president of the non-partisan National Parks Conservation Association and co-chair of the Healing Our WatersSM–Great Lakes coalition. "Restoring the Great Lakes won't happen overnight, but we need to take the first practical steps now. We believe in the restoration formula: restoration leads to a better environment, better economy and better quality of life."
Sponsored by the Healing Our WatersSM–Great Lakes coalition, the conference will tackle issues at the heart of the restoration debate:
•	How does ecological restoration translate into jobs and economic growth?
•	Are the states prepared to invest in restoration?
•	What is the Bush Administration's and Congress' commitment to restoring the Great Lakes?
•	What lessons can be learned from national restoration efforts?
"Great Lakes restoration is an investment that we need to make now," said Andy Buchsbaum, director of National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes office and co-chair of the Healing Our WatersSM–Great Lakes coalition. "The longer we wait, the bigger the job gets. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work now."
The conference is modeled after the Everglades Coalition annual conferences, which were essential for winning billions of state and federal dollars to restore the Florida Everglades. 
The conference features state, regional and national restoration leaders, including: 
•	U.S. EPA Administrator Steven  Johnson
•	Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm
•	U.S. Senator George Voinovich (Ohio)
•	U.S. Congressman Vernon Ehlers (Michigan)
•	Frank Ettawageshik, Tribal Chairman, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians
•	International Joint Commission Chair Dennis Schornack
•	George Kuper, Council of Great Lakes Industries President
•	Storm Cunningham, Revitalization Institute Executive Director and international authority on the economics of restoration
•	Sam Speck, Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
The Great Lakes currently suffer from a number of threats, including habitat destruction, pollution and invasive species like the zebra mussel.
"Scientists are telling us that the Great Lakes are dangerously out of balance and that they will not heal themselves on their own," said Buchsbaum. "We all share the responsibility to restore the Great Lakes that people depend on for their drinking water, fishing, livelihoods and recreational opportunities. It's time that we take action on behalf of children and future generations of people."

Read the conference agenda online at: www.mucc.org/Agenda.htm

The National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization protecting wildlife for our children's future.

Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its members, and partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation's natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.

Immediate Release:  September 8, 2005
Jordan Lubetkin, NWF – (734) 904-1589; lubetkin@nwf.org
Mike Truppa, Valerie Denney Communications – (312) 286-5077; mike@vdcom.com	
Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA – (202) 454-3332; akeller@npca.org

NWF's mission is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future. 

Jordan Lubetkin, Regional Communications Manager
Phone: 734-769-3351 |  Cell: 734-904-1589  |  lubetkin@nwf.org 
National Wildlife Federation, Great Lakes Natural Resource Center
213 W. Liberty St., Suite 200
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-1398
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