PDF _ RL33411 - Ecosystem Restoration in the Great Lakes: The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy
30-Jan-2008; Pervaze Sheikh; 9 p.

Update: Previous releases:
April 04, 2007
July 28, 2006
May 08, 2006 (/NLE/CRSreports/06jun/RL33411.pdf)

Abstract: The Great Lakes are recognized by many as an international natural resource that has been significantly altered over the past two centuries by human development. Problems in the Great Lakes include poor water quality, degraded fish and wildlife habitat, contaminated sediments, and non-native invasive species, among others. Restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem has emerged as a top priority among a wide variety of federal, state, and local stakeholders, and among several members of Congress. In the past few decades, the U.S. Congress has enacted more than 30 federal laws specifically focused on restoring aspects of the Great Lakes basin.

Attention to restoration in the Great Lakes was heightened in 2004 with the creation of a federal Great Lakes Interagency Task Force. The purpose of the task force is to provide strategic direction for Great Lakes policies on restoration and to form a regional collaboration of stakeholders interested in restoring the Great Lakes ecosystem. The latter purpose was accomplished with the creation of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration in 2004. The Collaboration, which consists of over 1,500 stakeholders, recently released the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, a plan for restoring the Great Lakes ecosystem. The Strategy is a series of recommendations for actions and activities aimed at starting the restoration of the Great Lakes ecosystem over the next five years. The Strategy encompasses eight issue areas: aquatic invasive species, fish and wildlife habitat (habitat/species), coastal health, contaminated sediments, nonpoint source pollution, toxic pollutants, indicators and information, and sustainable development. The total cost of implementing the Strategy is estimated to be $20 billion over five years.

Some have criticized the Strategy for being too costly, relying too heavily on new sources of funding, and not establishing a governance structure to coordinate implementation. Proponents of the Strategycontend that the estimated funding needs for the Great Lakes ecosystem match the size and breadth of the ecosystem, and are similar to those of other large-scale ecosystem restoration initiatives, such as the Everglades and Chesapeake Bay. Further, they contend that one of the functions of the Interagency Task Force is to provide governance, and to oversee and coordinate restoration activities in the Great Lakes. This report summarizes the Strategy, analyzes issues related to the Strategy and its implementation, and discusses federal legislation related to restoration in the Great Lakes.

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Topics: Biodiversity, International, Water

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