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GLIN==> Number one Great Lakes priority: Stop invasive species



Title: Number one Great Lakes priority: Stop invasive species

Contact: Kirk Haverkamp at 734-971-9135, kirkh@glc.org; or Tim Eder, executive director, at 734-604-7281, teder@glc.org.


State and regional representatives press Congress for action
Number one Great Lakes priority: Stop invasive species

Washington, D.C.  – Today, more than 200 delegates from the Great Lakes states and other regional organizations are in Washington in support of a shared vision to restore and protect the Great Lakes.

Their number one priority: stop invasive species before they completely overwhelm the Great Lakes ecosystem, crowd out desirable species and wreak havoc on the regional economy.

At the annual Great Lakes Day in Washington, an unprecedented alliance of the Great Lakes states, along with mayors, tribal authorities, resource managers and conservation groups, set forth a short list of critical, near-term priorities for starting the Great Lakes on the road to recovery. They are urging Congress to join state and local efforts to increase funding for Great Lakes clean up programs and approve key policy measures.

“Never before have we been so united in our efforts to protect and restore our nation’s water belt – the Great Lakes,” said Todd Ambs, head of the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resource’s water division. “We need Congress to help us shut the door on non-native species, clean up toxic hot spots, restore wetlands and protect water quality by updating our region’s aging wastewater infrastructure. A healthy water belt can both power our nation’s economy and support a robust environment, but this vision depends on leadership by all levels of government and other partners.”

The states’ near term priorities were presented to Congress by the Council of Great Lakes Governors and the Great Lakes Commission. They are being joined in Washington by an alliance that includes the Mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority and conservation organizations under the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition umbrella.

“The problems caused by aquatic invasive species and the threat that they pose to our region are well-documented,” said Ken DeBeaussaert, director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes. DeBeaussaert will testify before a House committee on behalf of the states. “These species are not just a threat to the health of our fishery: they are a threat to our economy. Unfortunately, the list of problems and the list of invasive species continue to grow.”

The annual Great Lakes Day in Washington, co-sponsored by the Great Lakes Commission and the Northeast-Midwest Institute, is an annual event at which the shared legislative priorities of the Great Lakes states are presented to Congress.

Both DeBeaussaert and Ambs represent their respective states on the Great Lakes Commission.

The full list of near-term priorities, including specific legislation is as follows:

•       Stop aquatic invasive species by passing the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act, legislation (H.R. 553 and S. 336) that authorizes construction and maintenance of the dispersal barrier to prevent the introduction and spread of harmful aquatic invasive species – such as the Asian carp – and appropriate $20.2 million to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to control sea lamprey and manage fishery resources.

       Clean Up Toxic Sediments by appropriating $54 million for the Great Lakes Legacy Act to clean up contaminated sediments and restore Great Lakes “toxic hot spots.”

       Restore Great Lakes Wetlands by appropriating $28.5 million to partner with the states in restoring 200,000 acres of valuable Great Lakes wetlands and $16 million for the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act.

       Protect Water Quality by appropriating $1.35 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to update sewerage systems, safeguard drinking water and protect coastal health in the Great Lakes. Reauthorize the CWSRF in order to provide additional funding in future years.

       Enact Great Lakes Restoration Legislation by authorizing the recommendations from the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration restoration strategy and funding coordinated implementation actions.

DeBeaussaert’s testimony before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is available at www.glc.org/about/testimony/pdf/kdb030707.pdf. The full list of FY2008 legislative priorities submitted to Congress by the Great Lakes Commission on behalf of its eight Member states is available at www.glc.org/restore. The Council of Great Lakes Governors’ near term priorities are at www.cglg.org.

For more information, contact Kirk Haverkamp at 734-971-9135, kirkh@glc.org; or Tim Eder, executive director, at 734-604-7281, teder@glc.org.

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The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Michigan Lt. Gov. John Cherry, is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great LakesSt. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators and agency officials 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.

Great Lakes Commission

The Hon. John D. Cherry, Jr., Chair; Tim A. Eder, Executive Director

Eisenhower Corporate Park 2805 S. Industrial Hwy. Suite 100 Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-6791

734-971-9135 Fax: 734-971-9150 Web: www.glc.org

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