Traverse City, Michigan — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects in Northern Michigan totaling $1.1 million. The projects will help to restore the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Grand Traverse Band watersheds and put people back to work, using a conservation corps model to hire unemployed workers to improve habitat and clean up shoreline.
The National Park Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs projects were selected from 44 proposals totaling almost $25 million, which were submitted in response to a $6 million challenge that EPA issued in August to encourage federal agencies to sign up unemployed workers to implement restoration projects in federally-protected areas, on tribal lands and in Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin. To qualify for funding, each project is required to provide jobs for at least 20 unemployed people.
‘The tremendous response to EPA’s challenge underscores the large backlog of Great Lakes restoration projects that are ready to be implemented and the strong support that exists for using a conservation corps model to get the job done,’ said Susan Hedman, EPA Great Lakes National Program Manager, today at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. ‘This week, EPA is announcing a total of eight restoration projects worth $6.6 million as part of this challenge. Each project will produce immediate, direct ecological benefits and will help to put unemployed people back to work.’
The National Park Service will receive $891,225 to expand wetland restoration work in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The Bureau of Indian Affairs will receive $255,365 to work with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians on watershed restoration – part of $876,810 awarded to BIA to allow it to expand its work with tribal governments to complete Great Lakes restoration projects in Indian country. Other tribes that will participate in the project are the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin and the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
‘The National Park Service is very proud to contribute to this effort,’ said National Park Service Midwest Regional Director Michael T. Reynolds. ‘Our participation in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has given us a terrific opportunity to do restoration work in all of our Great Lakes national parks that might never have been accomplished otherwise, and on a scale that can really make a difference. This project at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will not only provide jobs in an area with a high rate of unemployment, but will also accomplish much needed work to restore impacted sites throughout the 71,000 acre park.’
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‘The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians is very pleased to announce that we have received $255,365 to be utilized over 2 years. We will be using the award to employ 4-5 individuals for ‘on the ground’ field work,’ said Tribal Chair Derek J. Bailey. ‘The work crew will be supervised by a Grand Traverse Band/Natural Resources Conservation Service collaboratively funded position. Work will include removing woody debris, planting grasses and shrubs, river shoreline restoration, and hands on placement of bank stabilization materials.’
Selected projects will advance the goals and objectives of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan, developed by EPA with 15 other federal agencies in 2010. The action plan, which covers FY 2010 through 2014, ensures accountability by including measures of progress and benchmarks for success over the next three years. It calls for aggressive efforts to address five urgent priority ‘Focus Areas’:
- Cleaning up toxics and areas of concern.
- Combating invasive species.
- Promoting near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off.
- Restoring wetlands and other habitats.
- Tracking progress, education and working with strategic partners.