Thursday, November 15, 2012

Groups Highlight Fiscal Cliff Impact On Great Lakes Programs

Nov 14: Drawing attention as to why the so-called "Fiscal Cliff" issue [See WIMS 11/8/12] is important to environmental programs, a number of Great Lakes advocates are urging the nation's leaders to hold the line against cuts to successful programs that are restoring the Lakes, the source of drinking water for 30 million people.
    Jeff Skelding, campaign director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition (HOW) said, "President Obama's support for Great Lakes programs has been invaluable, and we challenge him to maintain his commitment to the Lakes. Congressional support has been equally important. Our message to Congress: Do not let up now. Restoration projects are producing results -- but there's more to do. We look forward to working with leaders of both parties to maintain the nation's commitment to the Great Lakes to protect our drinking water, jobs, public health and way of life."
    The groups, which also include Alliance for the Great Lakes and the National Parks Conservation Association indicate that unless the U.S. Congress and Obama Administration forge a budget deal by January 1, key Great Lakes programs face mandatory 8.2 percent cuts through a process called "sequestration." The reductions due to sequestration are on top of other potential budget cuts, threatening core clean water programs. They point out that based on fiscal year 2012 levels, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would be cut by $25 million, from $300 million to $275 million. The Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund -- which helps communities fix old sewers -- would be cut by $120 million, from $1.47 billion to $1.35 billion. By formula, the Great Lakes states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin would lose approximately $44 million.
    Access a release from HOW with more information (click here). Access a fact sheet on the impact of sequestration on Great Lakes programs (click here).
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Grants Focus On Adapting To Climate Change In Great Lakes

Nov 15: University of Michigan (U-M) scientists and their colleagues at Michigan State University (MSU) have awarded six grants to organizations across the region for projects that will help decision-makers adapt to climate change and variability in the Great Lakes basin. The grants were awarded by the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA), a Federally funded collaboration between U-M and MSU. GLISA researchers study issues related to climate change and variability in the Great Lakes basin and how the region can respond to climate-related risks, such as potential damages from changes in long-term temperature and precipitation patterns.

    GLISA program manager David Bidwell, a research fellow at U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute said, "Climate change is expected to have significant impacts on the Great Lakes region, and it's important for us to understand and prepare for them. These projects are laboratories for learning best practices for making decisions informed by climate science."

    In addition to the grant awards, GLISA researchers recently posted a new set of white papers focused on potential impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation options related to climate change and variability in the Midwest. Donald Scavia, GLISA co-leader and special counsel to the U-M president for sustainability said, "These papers were prepared at the request of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and examine how climate change could affect water resources, forestry, biodiversity, transportation, energy, agriculture, tourism and recreation, and the region's coastal systems. These assessments are critical, not only to the U.S. national climate assessment, but also to aid regional adaptation planning."
    Access a release with summaries of the projects and link to  more information on the grants and GLISA (click here). Access white papers (click here).
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New York Sea Grant Restoration Initiative Projects

Nov 14: The New York Sea Grant (NYSG) announced that it will collaborate on four Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects. Award-winning educators David MacNeill, a fisheries specialist, and coastal education specialist Helen Domske will be key partners in efforts to: evaluate the status of Lake Ontario's food web; develop resources for North American scientists on high-risk aquatic invasive species currently most well-known in Russian waters and where they may be found should they invade North America; extend successful aquatic invasive species (AIS) education to new target audiences; and educate a wide variety of stakeholders about the proper disposal of personal care products to help reduce unwanted chemicals in the Great Lakes system.
    New York Sea Grant Associate Director and Cornell Cooperative Extension Assistant Director Dr. Katherine Bunting-Howarth said, "New York Sea Grant Extension is pleased to partner with our Sea Grant colleagues, educational institutions, the National Geographic Society and others who share an interest in the Great Lakes to pursue critical research and educational opportunities in 2013 on behalf of the Great Lakes' unique environmental system."
    Access a release from NYSG and link to more information (click here).
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