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EPA announces funding to restore Great Lakes and put people back to work

Release Date: 10/07/2011
Contact Information: Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, rowan.anne@epa.gov

No. 11-OPA 101

EPA provides nearly $2 million for beach monitoring and Gary park project.

(Gary, Indiana - October 7, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects at beaches and a Gary park totaling nearly $2 million that will put people back to work, using a conservation corps model to hire unemployed workers to improve habitat and shoreline.

The projects were selected from 44 proposals totaling almost $25 million, which were submitted in response to a $6 million challenge that EPA issued in August to encourage federal agencies to sign up unemployed workers to implement restoration projects in federally-protected areas, on tribal lands and in Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin. To qualify for funding, each project is required to provide jobs for at least 20 unemployed people. This week, EPA announced a total of eight restoration projects worth $6.6 million as part of this challenge.

"These investments will help fulfill our commitment for a new Great Lakes standard of care: our work is no longer about limiting damage and minimizing harm to the ecosystem. It is about proactively working to make the Great Lakes healthier for the next generation," said Cameron Davis, EPA's Senior Advisor on the Great Lakes, today in Gary. "Each project we're announcing will produce immediate, direct ecological benefits and will help to put unemployed people back to work."

EPA's $1 million project at Marquette Park will expand the ecological restoration and job training underway there.

"I applaud the EPA for recognizing the work of the City of Gary and the Regional Development Authority at Marquette Park, and making this investment to help complete the project," said Congressman Pete Visclosky. "The work being done at Marquette Park and across the Great Lakes is putting people back to work while protecting a vital natural resource and building a better future for our region."

"This additional investment in the $28 million dollar Marquette Park project will enable us to get to our objectives more rapidly and continue to create job opportunities for Northwest Indiana," said Bill Hanna, Executive Director of the Regional Development Authority. "We appreciate the support and recognition of value in these projects by U.S. EPA and First District Congressman Pete Visclosky. You really have to see what's happening to believe it. It is truly transformational."

The U.S. Geological Service will receive $994,350 for a project to expand fish and bird monitoring at beaches on the Great Lakes.

"This funding will provide a great opportunity for us to keep Great Lakes beaches clean and healthy for the public, and increase our understanding of threats to fish and wildlife such as such as botulism and bacterial contamination." said Dr. Leon Carl, Regional Executive for the U.S. Geological Survey's Midwest Area. "We are also pleased that we will create jobs for over 20 unemployed workers who will help accomplish this effort."

Selected projects will advance the goals and objectives of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan, developed by EPA with 15 other federal agencies in 2010. The Action Plan, which covers FY 2010 through 2014, ensures accountability by including measures of progress and benchmarks for success over the next three years. It calls for aggressive efforts to address five urgent priority "Focus Areas":

  • Cleaning up toxics and areas of concern.
  • Combating invasive species.
  • Promoting near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off.
  • Restoring wetlands and other habitats.
  • Tracking progress, education and working with strategic partners.

More information on selected projects is available at http://www.glri.us