Tuesday, July 7, 2009

NWF Report On Great Lakes Wetlands

Jul 8: A new report by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) illustrates how gaps in state and Federal policy threaten Great Lakes wetlands. Marc Smith, state policy manager for NWF's Great Lakes Regional Center said, “Great Lakes wetlands remain threatened. States play a vital role in protecting our wetlands, water quality and economy -- and this report illustrates that they can be doing more. Successful restoration of our Great Lakes depends on the protection and restoration of the region’s wetlands.”

The report examines state wetland policies in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It assesses how well each state is protecting wetlands, identifies the barriers to better protection, and offers recommendations for improvement. According to the report, state efforts to protect and restore wetlands are hampered by incomplete wetland inventories, inadequate staffing, insufficient public engagement, and a lack of priorities to protect and restore wetlands.

Gaps in state law also undermine protection efforts. Exemptions which allow for the destruction of wetlands are generally not tracked by state agencies. Further, the quality of wetland mitigation projects is not often tracked, allowing for the destruction of high quality wetlands that are replaced with wetlands of less value to people and wildlife. The report notes that one acre of wetlands provides $10,573 of ecosystem services, according to recent estimates. Great Lakes wetlands are threatened by development. The region has lost more than 50 percent of its historic wetlands. Some coastal areas have lost more than 95 percent of wetlands.

Access a release with comments from the states (
click here). Access links to the complete 114-page report and a summary (click here).

5th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference

Jul 7: The Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition 5th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference will take place September 10-12, in Duluth, MN at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Downtown Waterfront. The Coalition will reunite with friends, celebrate successes, and develop strategies to achieve the Great Lakes restoration goals for 2010 and beyond. The conference agenda will address critical issues such as linking Great Lakes restoration to economic recovery, working with the Obama administration to fulfill the $5 billion Great Lakes commitment, and securing Congressional funding for on the ground restoration work.

Access details and online registration (
click here).

Rep. Stupak's Great Lakes Compact Resolution

Jun 23: U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) introduced a resolution, H. Res. 551, in the U.S. House of Representatives which he says is designed to clarify that in ratifying the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Compact last fall, Congress expressly prohibited Great Lakes water from being sold, diverted or exported outside of the Great Lakes basin. When the Great Lakes Compact was considered in the U.S. House in September 2008, Stupak raised concerns that the wording of the compact was not strong enough to protect against water diversions through privatization, commercialization and exportation. Because his concerns were not addressed, Stupak opposed ratification of the compact [See WIMS 11/19/08].

Representative Stupak said, "I continue to have concerns that the Great Lakes Compact is not strong enough to protect the Great Lakes against diversions through privatization, commercialization and exportation. There is no question that Congress intended for the compact to protect Great Lakes water but the wording of the compact leaves some question. That is why I have introduced this resolution to put Congress on record in opposition to the exploitation of Great Lakes waters. While the potential removal of millions of gallons of Great Lakes water in the form of bottled water is alarming, of much greater concern is a potential trade dispute between the United States and any multi-national corporation or foreign government interested in diverting our water. The Great Lakes make up the largest body of freshwater in the world. We owe it to the people of Michigan and the entire Great Lakes Basin to ensure that Great Lakes Compact preserves and protects the quality and quantity of Great Lakes water.”

In a release, Stupak said the intent of the Great Lakes Compact, when Michigan and the seven other Great Lakes states began crafting the agreement more than seven years ago, was to protect Great Lakes water from large-scale diversions. He said he has continually raised concerns over the compact’s so-called "bottled water loophole." He said he is troubled by the prospect of passing legislation that would treat Great Lakes water as a "product" that could then be subject to international trade laws [See WIMS 9/26/08 & 9/23/08]. Stupak represents Michigan’s First Congressional District, which has more shoreline -- 1,613 miles -- than any other congressional district in the continental United States and is the only congressional district in the nation to border three of the five Great Lakes -- Superior, Michigan and Huron.

Access a release from Rep. Stupak (
click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 551 (click here).