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Restoring the Great Lakes


Lake Huron in the U.S. state of Michigan (file photo).

Initiative implemented more than 2500 projects to improve water quality, clean up contaminated shoreline, protect and restore native habitat and species and prevent and control invasive species in the Great Lakes.

During its first five years, the United States Government’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative implemented more than 2500 projects to improve water quality, clean up contaminated shoreline, protect and restore native habitat and species and prevent and control invasive species in the Great Lakes.

“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is making the Great Lakes healthier and local economies stronger,” said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] Administrator and Great Lakes Interagency Task Force Chair Gina McCarthy. “With continued commitment from GLRI partners, we will continue to improve the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem and the communities that depend on that ecosystem for generations to come.”

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts in the United States to protect and restore the largest system of surface freshwater in the world. Funding provided through the Initiative has been a catalyst for unprecedented federal agency coordination through the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force and the Great Lakes Regional Working Group, which are led by EPA.

This coordination has produced unparalleled results, including protecting, enhancing and restoring over 148,000 acres of wetlands, coastal, upland and island habitat; working with the agricultural community to reduce phosphorus runoff, which contributes to algal blooms; and preventing new introductions of invasive species.

During the first five years of the GLRI, federal agencies and their partners completed all cleanup actions required to delist five Great Lakes Areas of Concern and to formally delist the Presque Isle Bay Area of Concern — a major change from the 25 years before the Initiative, during which only one Area of Concern was cleaned up and delisted.

The United States and Canada designated 43 heavily contaminated sites around the Great Lakes as Areas of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

During the first five years of the Initiative, federal agencies and their partners also worked to reduce the largest nonpoint source of phosphorus runoff — agricultural lands — which contributes to harmful algal blooms in western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron and Green Bay in Lake Michigan.

The United States is proud to work with international and domestic partners to restore and preserve one of the world’s freshwater treasures – the Great Lakes.

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