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2018 Great Lakes Areas of Concern Conference

Date and Time

Wednesday 05/16/2018 8:30AM CDT to Thursday 05/17/2018 12:30PM CDT
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Blue Harbor Hotel Conference Center
725 Blue Harbor Drive
Sheboygan, WI 53081

Registration Deadline

Friday 05/11/2018 5:00PM CDT


Overview and Registration

Conference goals

The Annual Meeting of the AOC community provides the opportunity to discuss the work done in the program and to connect with a wide variety of partners to continue making progress.

This conference aims to:

  • Provide a forum for AOC participants to
    • share ideas
    • review program status
    • showcase successes
    • discuss common challenges
  • Review recent developments affecting the AOC program including
    • the revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement,
    • the FY2015-19 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan, and
    • the development of the upcoming GLRI Action Plan III.
  • Review and discuss AOC program and project funding mechanisms including process and timing
  • Strengthen linkages among federal, tribal, state and local AOC participants

To highlight AOC work, you or your colleagues may again present your work in a special end-of-day Poster Session.

Who should attend

  • Representatives of local Public Advisory Councils
  • State agency AOC staff members
  • Tribal agency AOC representatives
  • Federal agency staff involved in implementing the AOC program
  • Other AOC stakeholders (e.g., consultants, academics) who have an interest in the AOC Program


All times are Central

Conference Facilitators:

John Perrecone, Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Steve Galarneau, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Office of Great Waters

Optional Pre-Conference Tour of Sheboygan River AOC

Tuesday, May 15, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Join local members from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the City of Sheboygan on a free two-hour tour of the restoration activities at this AOC.  The tour will leave at 2:00 pm from the Blue Harbor Hotel.  Register for this event on the AOC registration web page. Transportation will be provided.  See registration page for more details. The tour will be limited to 50 participants. 

Day One: Wednesday, May 16

8:30 am to 9:30 am Registration and Light Refreshments
Morning Plenary

  • 9:30 am Conference Overview, Conference Facilitators
  • 9:40 am Welcome to Sheboygan

Mayor Michael Vandersteen, City of Sheboygan
Adam Payne, County Administrator, Sheboygan County
Steve Galarneau, Director, WDNR, Office of Great Waters

  • 10:00 am Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Program Update

Tinka G. Hyde, EPA, Director, GLNPO

  • 10:15 am Interactive Polling Session
    This session will use interactive devices to poll the audience on key issues and concerns in the   implementation of the AOC program.

Facilitator: Matt Doss, Policy Director, Great Lakes  Commission

10:45 am Break

  • 11:15 am Getting Work Done at AOCs/Update on GLRI Action Plan III

Marc Tuchman, EPA, GLNPO

  • 11:40 am Wisconsin AOC Program

Kendra Axness, WDNR, Office of Great Waters

  • 12:15 pm AOC Success Stories: 
    Short videos of GLRI-funded AOC work in the Great Lakes Basin.
    Moderators: John Perrecone, EPA, GLNPO and Vic Pappas, WDNR

12:30 pm Buffet Lunch

  • 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm Breakout Cycle A
    • Session 1: Outreach and Communication in the AOC Program
      AOC work is a partnership effort, requiring outreach with multiple organizations and the community. Attend this hands-on, interactive training to improve your group communication skills, including facilitation techniques and stakeholder engagement strategies.
      Moderator: Caitie Nigrelli, IL/IN Sea Grant and Chris Ellis, NOAA
    • Session 2: Funding Prioritization and Development:  The Need for Complete Management Action Lists
      As a number of AOCs have completed management actions, another group of AOCs need to complete complete management action lists for BUI removal.  This session will discuss what should be in these lists and how EPA prioritizes them for funding.Moderator: Amy Pelka, EPA, GLNPO
    • Session 3: Management Actions I:  Sediment Remediation Projects that lead to BUI Removals 
      We will discuss how the Great Lakes Legacy Act and other sediment remediation programs lead to BUI removal.
      Moderator:  EPA and Jim Killian, WDNR

3:00 pm Break

  • 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm Breakout Cycle B
    • Session 4: Open Space Meeting Time    
      This is not a formal breakout session; rather it is a mechanism for the attendees to choose topics of their choice to discuss and network with others with similar interests.  The purpose of this session is to establish small informal networks on specific AOC topics brought forth by the participants that will be fostered beyond the conference.
      Moderators:  Rick Hobrla, MDNR and Katie Williams, EPA, Office of Research and Development
    • Session 5: Management Actions II:  Habitat Restoration Projects—Start to Finish    
      How do you know what are the correct projects to remove the Habitat BUIs?  What happens to your restoration projects when completed?  Are they meeting programmatic and ecological restoration goals?  Did the projects remove the BUIs?
      Moderators: Tony Friona, USACE and Michael Kuzia-Carmel, New York Department of Environmental Conservation
    • Session 6: Getting the Job Done via Federal, State and Local Partnerships:  St. Louis River AOC Case Study
      This session will show how state and federal agencies are working at the St. Louis River AOC to complete management actions.
      Moderator: Leah Medley, EPA and Barb Huberty, MPCA 

5:00 - 7:30 pm:  Reception and  Poster Session.

Stefanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts
826 North 8th Street
Sheboygan WI 53081

Agenda Day Two: Thursday, May 17

8:15 am Reconvene and Review Agenda, Steve Galarneau, WDNR 

  • 8:30 am Morning Plenary Session

​​AOC Program Update from Environment Canada and Climate Change (ECCC)

Jon H. Gee, Manager, Great Lakes Areas of Concern Program, ECCC

9:00 am   Long Term Maintenance of AOC Restoration Projects

Derek Ager, EPA and Carl Platz, USACE

9:30 am Break

  • 9:45 am to 11:15 am Breakout Cycle C
    • Session 7: Long Term Maintenance of AOC Restoration Projects
      Once a habitat restoration program is completed, has it been designed to be self-sustaining?  And, if not, is there a prescribed stewardship plan in place and an agreed upon entity to implement that plan?  This session will discuss how an inter-agency group has been developing guidelines on this topic and what it means for your AOC. Moderators: Scott Cieniawski, EPA, GLNPO and Stacy Hron, WDNR
    •  Session 8: Showcasing Economic Benefits from Restoring Local Water Resources:  Examples of Economic Analyses and How They Can Be Applied
      This session will review examples of several projects that quantified economic benefits from environmental restoration efforts, the type of analyses used, and how they can be applied at AOCs to showcase the value of cleaning up and revitalizing water resources. Participants will provide input on the types of economic tools that would be most useful in their work at the local level.
      Moderator:  Matt Doss, Great Lakes Commission
    • Session 9: How to Succeed in the EPA Granting Process:  The Do’s and Don’ts of the Process 
      Grants are a vital tool in implementing GLRI work.  This session will outline how to successfully navigate this process so the right people can get the right work done at the right time!!
      Moderator:  Bart Mosier, EPA, GLNPO
  • 11:15 am   Two Successful River Cleanups:  Contributions from the AOC Program

    Cherie Blair, OEPA, Maumee River AOC, Ottawa River Cleanup

    Margaux Valenti, Buffalo Niagara Water Keeper,  Buffalo River AOC Cleanup

  • 12:15 pm Wrap-up, Evaluation, Interactive Polling and Follow-up Actions

Conference Facilitators: John Perrecone, EPA, GLNPO, and Steve Galarneau, WDNR

12:30 pm Adjourn


Wednesday 05/16/2018 8:30AM CDT to Thursday 05/17/2018 12:30PM CDT The deadline for room reservations has been changed to Friday, April 27.

Blue Harbor Hotel and Conference Center
725 Blue Harbor Drive
Sheboygan, WI  53081
Reservation phone number:  1-866-701-2583

  • Room rates are $93.00/single and $113/double
  • Tax is 13.5% but, if you have a government tax exempt form, the taxes will be waived.  Be sure to inform the hotel when making your reservation.
  • Make your reservation by 5/17/2018. Each room must have an adult of 21 years of age or older.
  • Use Reservation # 7AV4VO to get conference rate.
  • All reservations must be guaranteed by the individual and accompanied by a first night room deposit and guaranteed with a major credit card.
  • For online reservations, visit "Make a Reservation," enter the dates, number of guests and the group code: 7AV4VO
  • Check-in time is 4:00 PM and check-out time is 11:00 AM. Guests arriving prior to 4:00 PM will be assigned accommodations as they become available.


Blue Harbor Resort is in the heart of Harbor Centre. From I-43 North or South, exit on Hwy. 23 East. Turn right (South) on 8th Street. Follow 8th Street over the drawbridge and circle the rotary to South Pier Drive.

Blue Harbor Hotel and Conference Center 
725 Blue Harbor Drive
Sheboygan, WI  53081

From the North or South

From I-43 North or South, take exit 126/Hwy. 23 East. Turn right (South) on 8th Street. Follow 8th Street over the drawbridge and circle the rotary to South Pier Drive.

On the Water

If you are travelling via Lake Michigan, the Latitude and Longitude of Blue Harbor Resort is 43.745791,-87.70779

For information or further directions please call: 1.866.701.BLUE (2583) or email Blue Harbor.

From an Airport (We recommend that you fly into Milwaukee’s General Mitchell airport)

Go Riteway Shuttle:  Enjoy convenient and professional transfers from airports in Milwaukee, Green Bay or Chicago. Take advantage of the special Blue Harbor Resort partner discount with Go Riteway shared shuttle service or private cars.

Visit Riteway Shuttle  for reservations, insert code: BHRS. (In the upper right box labeled “User ID/Corp ID”)

Please note:  A number of people may be arriving at the Milwaukee airport around the same time to travel to the hotel.  When making a reservation, inform the shuttle service that you are attending the “2018 AOC Conference” and they may be able to group a number of people to share a ride to the hotel.  An individual ride would cost around $58 and shared rides will be a little less.

On Tuesday, May 15, we anticipate that there may be a group arriving mid-morning to attend the 2:00 pm optional AOC tour and another group may be arriving later afternoon.

For return trip, visit Riteway Shuttle to make your online reservation and, once at the conference, the shuttle service may group you for a lower fare as well.

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Join us on Instagram & Twitter: #AOC2018

Conference Contacts:

John Perrecone ( 312-353-1149
Vic Pappas ( 920/893-8512

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