Thursday, February 19, 2009

Commission To Take Great Lakes Priorities To DC

Feb 18: Next week, at its annual Great Lakes Days in Washington, DC, the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) will present recommendations to Congress to support job creation and stimulate economic development on a long-term basis by investing in Great Lakes protection and restoration. In its list of legislative priorities for fiscal year 2010, the Commission is urging Congress and the Administration to work together to create a sustainable funding mechanism for the Great Lakes and to increase support for several existing programs. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, GLC chair said, “An investment this year in Great Lakes restoration will improve our precious environment and yield solid economic returns for the region and the nation."

According to a release from GLC, the health of the lakes is vital to more than 35 million citizens who depend on them for drinking water; a recreational boating industry that generates spending of $16 billion annually and supports over 100,000 jobs in the Great Lakes states; a commercial and sport fishery valued at more than $4 billion; and a maritime transportation system that supports trade and manufacturing for the heartland of North America. They said, a significant Federal investment is needed to match the estimated $15 billion annually that is invested by local governments.

In its priorities for fiscal year 2010, the Great Lakes Commission calls on Congress to: provide sustainable, ongoing funding for Great Lakes restoration through a block grant, trust fund or similar mechanism as recommended by the President during the campaign; create jobs and protect water quality by providing the Great Lakes states with nearly $500 million through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund; clean up toxic sediments by fully funding the Great Lakes Legacy Act with $54 million in 2010 and an increased annual authorization of $150 million; close the door on aquatic invasive species through strong ballast water treatment requirements, better regulation of organisms in trade, and continued funding for such existing programs as the sea lamprey control program; and restore valuable fish and wildlife habitat with full funding of $16 million for the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act.

The five priorities are consistent with those of the Council of Great Lakes Governors and shared by an alliance that includes the mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, the Healing Our Waters® - Great Lakes Coalition, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority, Council of Great Lakes Industries, and GLC.

Access a release from GLC and link to complete details on the GLC priorities (click here).

NOAA Study Documents Invasives Disruption In Lakes' Food Web

Feb 18: Scientists from NOAA say the quick decline of a tiny shrimp-like species, known scientifically as Diporeia, is related to the aggressive population growth of non-native quagga mussels in the Great Lakes. As invasive mussel numbers increase, food sources for Diporeia and many aquatic species have steadily and unilaterally declined. A recent research study from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Laboratory published this week in Freshwater Biology documents the recent decline of Diporeia and the explosive growth of quagga mussels in Lake Michigan. Over the past five years quagga mussels have displaced native Diporeia as the dominant bottom dwelling organism, leading to a major disruption in the lake’s food web.

Tom Nalepa, NOAA research biologist said, “Quagga mussels have displaced other more energy-rich food sources and leave fish and other aquatic species with fewer food options. The invasive mussels are low in calories and their shell has no nutritional value. Fish feeding on quagga mussels expend considerable energy crushing and passing the indigestible shell.”

Access a release from NOAA (click here). Access an abstract of the paper and information on obtaining the complete paper (click here).