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EPA Announces Funding to Restore Lake Michigan and Put People Back to Work

Release Date: 10/05/2011
Contact Information: Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, rowan.anne@epa.gov (EPA), Kenneth Arbogast, 231-775-5023, Ext. 8726 (USFS)

EPA Provides More than Half a Million Dollars for Muskegon Area Project

(Muskegon, Michigan - October 5, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced $592,400 in funding for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project in Huron Manistee National Forest. The U.S. Forest Service project will help to restore Lake Michigan and put people back to work, using a conservation corps model to hire unemployed workers to improve habitat.

The project was 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.

“The tremendous response to EPA’s challenge underscores the large backlog of Great Lakes restoration projects that are ready to be implemented and the strong support that exists for using a conservation corps model to get the job done,” said Susan Hedman, EPA Great Lakes National Program Manager, today in Muskegon. “This week, EPA is announcing a total of eight restoration projects worth $6.6 million as part of this challenge. Each project will produce immediate, direct ecological benefits and will help to put unemployed people back to work.”

The projects on the Huron-Manistee include habitat restoration for several threatened or endangered species, including the Karner blue butterfly, the piping plover, the Kirtland’s warbler and the Massasagua rattlesnake. Two other projects on the forest will address non-native invasive species and stream bank stabilization.

“These funds will help us accomplish very important work in protecting critical habitats on the Forests, while at the same time helping Michigan’s economy through temporary employment and contracted work,” said Barry Paulson, Forest Supervisor of the Huron-Manistee.

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