Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
BY KATIE STEIGER-MEISTER, EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
2013 marks the fourth year that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been a proud federal partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the implementation the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).
Comprised of more than 10,000 miles of coastline and 30,000 islands, the Great Lakes provide drinking water, transportation, power and recreational opportunities to the 30 million citizens who call the Great Lakes basin "home." As the largest group of fresh water lakes on Earth, the Great Lakes hold 95 percent of the United States' surface fresh water. An important economic resource, the Great Lakes also provide over 1.5 million jobs and $62 billion (1.9 MB PDF) in wages to American citizens.
Years of environmental degradation has left the Great Lakes in need of immediate on-the-ground action to save this precious resource for generations to come. GLRI is a driver for environmental action in the Great Lakes and represents a collaborative effort on behalf of the U.S. EPA and 15 other federal agencies to address the most significant environmental problems in the Great Lakes.
The GLRI Action Plan identifies five major focus areas to serve as a guide for collaborative restoration work. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has current projects in the following three focus areas:
Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern, including pollution prevention and cleanup of the most polluted areas in the Great Lakes.
Invasive Species, including efforts to institute a “zero tolerance policy” toward new invasions, including the establishment of self-sustaining populations of invasive species, such as Asian Carp.
Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration, including bringing wetlands and other habitat back to life, and the first-ever comprehensive assessment of the entire 530,000 acres of Great Lakes coastal