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Great Lakes Regional Collaboration strategy released
Release Date: 7/7/2005
Phillippa Cannon, (312) 353-6218
For Immediate Release
CHICAGO (July 7, 2005) — The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration today released a draft strategy to restore and protect the Great Lakes ecosystem. At the "Summit I" event in Duluth, Minn., senior representatives of the collaboration - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator Benjamin Grumbles, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson, Superior, Wis., Mayor David Ross and Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Tribal Chairman Frank Ettawageshik - presented the strategy for public comment.
In December 2004, President Bush signed an executive order directing EPA to lead a regional collaboration of national significance for the Great Lakes. The collaboration is a unique partnership of key members from federal, state, and local governments, tribes and stakeholders for the purpose of developing a strategic plan to restore and protect the lakes.
"The unique nature of these majestic lakes and their role in the cultural, economic and environmental well-being of our nation requires us to take bold action in their defense," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Working separately, environmental progress is limited. This collaborative strategy, bringing together resources and ideas from our partners, is the next step in ensuring the Great Lakes remain an international treasure - forever open to trade and tourism, and providing a healthy ecosystem for its surrounding communities."
"This is the summer of the Great Lakes - an unprecedented opportunity to ensure that they are protected and restored for our children and grandchildren," said Gov. Doyle. "Most importantly, we recognize that immediate and aggressive action is needed. Hundreds have taken part in this collaboration and we invite the public to help us identify the steps that must be taken now and in coming years."
"We are pleased to host this important event and we're equally proud to show the commitment we have to keeping the Great Lakes pure for future generations," Mayor Bergson said. "I am looking forward to discussing Great Lakes issues with our guests and working together to find solutions to the problems we face."
"Many Great Lakes Tribal Nations have been participating in the collaboration in recognition of their sacred duties and responsibilities to the waters of the Great Lakes," said Tribal Chairman Ettawageshik. "We look forward to hearing from the public about how the final strategy can help to protect the Creator's gifts of pure water and sustainable ecosystems that provide the foundation for the health and welfare of all people in the Great Lakes basin."
More than 1,500 people from government and nongovernmental organizations participated in the six-month effort to draft the strategy. Teams worked on eight critical environmental priorities including aquatic invasive species, habitat conservation and species management, near-shore waters and coastal areas, areas of concern, non-point sources, toxic pollutants, sound information base and representative indicators and sustainability. The reports of these teams form the basis for the draft action plan. They include recommendations for action and focus both on the long-term restoration of the Great Lakes and on the steps that must be taken over the next five years to most effectively achieve results.
The draft strategy still must be endorsed by the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration members. Following a 60-day public comment period, including five town-hall style meetings, the collaboration(s leadership will consider the draft recommendations and public comments as they develop a final strategy for approval by the collaboration membership. The final strategy is due to be released in Chicago in December 2005.
To read recommendations of the strategy teams and for more information about the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration go to www.epa.gov/grtlakes/collaboration. To comment on the draft strategy, go to www.glrc.us.
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