Portman meets with Lake Erie advocates to hear Great Lakes success stories

Portman meets with Lake Erie advocates to hear Great Lakes success stories.
(Thomas Ondrey/Plain Dealer file photo) CLEVELAND, Ohio – For the first time in decades, yellow perch fingerlings have returned to the once reed-choked Mentor Marsh, an ecological benefit of the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The focus of the round-table talk was the recently proposed White House budget cuts, and the potential destruction the reduced funding would cause to Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes if allowed to become law.
It’s all dependent on keeping up the fight, and the funding is critical for that."
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the cornerstone of a network of programs designed to protect and restore the largest system of fresh water in the world, by combating water pollution, especially toxic algal blooms, to prevent and control invasive species, and to restore habitat to protect native fish and wildlife.
Over the past seven years, the Great Lakes initiative has provided $650,000 to the Nature Conservancy to help eradicate invasive phragmites at the Mentor Marsh and the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve; $3 million for a Cuyahoga River urban riparian restoration project; $15 million for restoration of the Black River; $175,000 to the Cleveland Metroparks for a stormwater project at Wildwood Park, and $500,000 for restoration work on the Chagrin River watershed.
"It finances grass roots cleanups of legacy pollution in some of the Lake Erie tributaries."
Frank Greenland, director of watershed programs for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, said Great Lakes initiative funds have been critical for at least five projects, and provides the primary funding for testing the Lake Erie beaches for bacterial level during the summer.
Kristy Meyer, managing director of the Ohio Environmental Council, said Great Lakes initiative grants have helped her organization to educate farmers in the Maumee Valley on the best practices for reducing their runoff of fertilizers and manure that feed the annual algal blooms in the lake’s western basin.
"This is about where we swim, where we fish, where we work, and most importantly where we draw our drinking water," Joyce said.

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