Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant to University to Monitor Coastal Wetlands

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Posted: Friday, October 2, 2015 2:09 pm

CHICAGO, Ill. -- The U.S Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., has received a $10 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to monitor coastal wetlands around the Great Lakes basin over the next five years. This project expands an existing GLRI grant to the university for Great Lakes wetlands monitoring.

“This new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant will expand coastal wetland monitoring around the Great Lakes basin,” said U.S. EPA Regional Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman. “The information collected by Central Michigan researchers will be used to assess ecosystem health and to prioritize areas for habitat protection and restoration.”

"Michigan is home to more than 3,100 miles of Great Lakes shoreline,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. “This investment will help Central Michigan University researchers study coastal wetlands across the Great Lakes basin to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitats for years to come. Today's announcement further underscores the importance of partnerships like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which invests in the health of our Great Lakes and waterways."

“The Great Lakes are a critical component of Michigan’s economy, and wetland areas in particular help improve water quality and support local wildlife,” said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters. “Central Michigan University is well-equipped to implement this coastal wetland monitoring program, which will help us better protect and restore wetland areas throughout our Great Lakes. This grant underscores the importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as a tool for revitalizing the health of the world’s largest system of fresh surface water.”

Central Michigan University will continue to implement a basin-wide coastal wetland monitoring program over the next five years while simultaneously evaluating ongoing and future wetlands restoration efforts. Fish, invertebrate, bird, amphibian, and plant communities, along with chemical and physical variables, will be assessed in the majority of coastal wetland areas throughout the Great Lakes basin. The data and the results will be used to prevent further wetland degradation and loss through future wetland protection.

“Over 50 percent of all Great Lakes coastal wetlands have been lost to development at this point and we are just now beginning to understand how important these systems are to the overall Great Lakes ecosystem and our economy,” said CMU Institute for Great Lakes Research Director Dr. Don Uzarski. “They filter toxicants before reaching the open water of the lakes and serve as nursery habitats for sport fishes to name just a couple of services that these systems provide. Our project spans the entire basin including US and Canada covering over 10,000 miles of shoreline. Of course, CMU cannot do this work alone. Our team represents most of the top scientists in the field of Great Lakes coastal wetland ecology and extends across the entire basin representing nine universities, one state agency, one Canadian federal agency, and one U.S. federal agency beyond EPA.”

Other institutions and agencies collaborating with CMU on this grant include University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Wisconsin campuses of Green Bay and River Falls, Lake Superior State University, University of Notre Dame, Grand Valley State University, University of Windsor, State University of New York at Brockport, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Geological Survey, Environment Canada, and Bird Studies Canada.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources are used to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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