Great Lakes

Funding for the Great Lakes will take a $175million dollar, or 37% reduction from current spending in President Obama’s 2011 budget.

While funding for the ecosystems restoration has tripled from five years ago, environmentalists are saying the $300million proposed for next year is not enough.

“Although President Obama’s budget makes Great Lakes restoration a priority, the proposed funding will make it difficult to keep pace with the urgent threats facing the lakes,” said Jeff Skelding, campaign director for Healing our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

The coalition has more than 100 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation and other organizations that want to restore and protect the great lakes.

The Brookings Institution found that the Great Lakes region of Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin stands to gain at least $2 in economic benefit for every $1 invested in Great Lakes restoration, according to the coalition.

“Fully funding Great Lakes restoration will benefit people, businesses and communities,” Skelding said.

Lori Boughton head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Great lakes said the money can help draw tourists and businesses by improving the quality of life in the region.

She said restoration projects can also create jobs – for consultants, contractors and landscapers.

She also said federal money will help local projects for which there aren’t state dollars.

A dozen Pennsylvania groups submitted applications for grants from the $475 million, Boughton said. They included three for habitat and stream-bank restoration or storm-water management on Walnut and Cascade creeks in Erie County, she said.

Related:   Climate Change Hits the Great Lakes [Gallery]

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A writer and photographer, Spowart has publication credits in Canada, United States, Europe and Norway with such publications as The Globe & Mail, The National Post, Sun Media, Canwest News, and Canada News Wire.

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