Last week, I joined about 80 fellow Great Lakes residents as special guests of the White House to talk about the tremendous progress we've made toward restoring our lakes.
There is still a lot of work to do, but consider this: President Obama has invested more than $1 billion in cleaning up the lakes. These lakes are home to seven national parks and feature nearly 1,000 miles of shoreline managed by the National Park Service and other federal land managers.
Thanks to this funding, known as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), we have removed more than 1 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the Great Lakes, protected or restored more than 20,000 acres of wildlife and bird habitat, and cleaned up many beaches. At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, NPCA is working on a GLRI-funded project by helping the Park Service restore the Great Marsh. Our staff and volunteers are removing non-native plants and replacing them with native wetlands plants that will clean storm water as it runs into Lake Michigan.
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Last week, Counselor to the President Pete Rouse, Deputy Director of the Interior David Hayes, and other top-ranking federal officials announced that the administration would expand the GLRI funding past its current sunset date in 2014. While I have concerns about the overall federal budget and how it will affect the Park Service, I can only applaud this decision to bring vital funding to some of our nation’s most important waterways. Millions of visitors enjoy our Great Lakes national parks each year, and advocates around the country will now be able to better protect the beaches, dunes, wetlands, and wildlife in these important places.
Learn more about how 120 organizations, including NPCA, work together to restore the Great Lakes at www.healthylakes.org.
About the author
Lynn McClure Senior Regional Director, Midwest
Lynn came to NPCA in 2007 to launch the Midwest office in Chicago. As the Regional Director, she leads protection of more than 50 national parks in NPCA’s largest region.