According to an announcement of the Plan, the Initiative is not intended to be "another grand statement about the Great Lakes; it is intended to operationalize those statements. It builds on countless hours by elected, agency, business, public interest and other leaders, which resulted in the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy (GLRC Strategy). The GLRC Strategy provides a framework for the Action Plan, and the Action Plan is just that: an action driver. It articulates the most significant ecosystem problems and efforts to address them in five major focus areas."
The five areas of major focus include: (1) Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern, including pollution prevention and cleanup of the most polluted areas in the Great Lakes; (2) Invasive Species, including efforts to institute a "zero tolerance policy" toward new invasions, including the establishment of self-sustaining populations of invasive species; (3) Nearshore Health and Nonpoint Source Pollution, including a targeted geographic focus on high priority watersheds and reducing polluted runoff from urban, suburban and, agricultural sources; (4) Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration, including bringing wetlands and other habitat back to life, and the first-ever comprehensive assessment of the entire 530,000 acres of Great Lakes coastal wetlands for the purpose of strategically targeting restoration and protection efforts in a science-based manner; and (5) Accountability, Education, Monitoring, Evaluation, Communication and Partnerships, including the implementation of goal- and results-based accountability measures, learning initiatives, outreach and strategic partnerships.
The Action Plan identifies goals, objectives, measurable ecological targets, and specific actions for each of the five focus areas identified above. The announcement indicates that, "The Action Plan will be used by federal agencies in the development of the federal budget for Great Lakes restoration in fiscal years 2011 and beyond. As such, it will serve as guidance for collaborative restoration work with participants to advance restoration. The Action Plan will also help advance the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with Canada."