Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lake St. Clair Strategic Implementation Plan Finalized

Jun 12: A release from Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) indicates that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has granted final approval to the Lake St. Clair Strategic Implementation Plan. The plan, which includes scores of specific restoration recommendations, was signed by Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy on Monday, clearing a critical hurdle that will provide an important leg up as Lake St. Clair restoration projects seek federal funding. WIMS was able to obtain a near final version of the plan from USACE and have published the draft on our EcoBizPort.com website (see link below). USACE indicates that the final approved version from HQ, will be posted on their website in the near future. 

    The plan has formally been in the works since 2007, when Representative Sander Levin (D-MI) and Senator Levin (D-MI) wrote a provision into the 2007 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that called for the Corps of Engineers to lead a partnership of Lake St. Clair stakeholders in developing a Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) to come up with specific projects to implement the more than 100 individual recommendations contained in the 2005 Management Plan. The SIP and the process that created it are significant because they took the very general recommendations and goals contained in the 2005 Management Plan and provided a structure for Lake St. Clair stakeholders to move forward with specific restoration projects. The SIP includes scores of specific restoration project recommendations in areas such as conserving and restoring habitat; managing storm water; and using technology to preserve and protect the Lake St. Clair. 

    Approval of the SIP also gives Lake St. Clair restoration projects a leg up when it comes to Federal funding. The 2007 legislation that set the SIP process in motion contained a $20 million authorization to carry out projects developed by the implementation plan. Many Lake St. Clair restoration projects are also eligible for funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) program, which was started three years ago by President Obama. The actual amount of money available for restoration projects depends greatly on how much funding Congress provides to the Corps of Engineers and the GLRI in their annual appropriations bills.

    Rep. Levin said, "Today we take the next big step toward the full restoration of Lake St. Clair. Lake St. Clair and its watershed are worth protecting, and this implementation gives us a new tool to move forward with this effort." Sen. Levin said, "I commend the Army Corps of Engineers and the numerous partners in this effort as their work will help ensure that projects are implemented in a coordinated manner and prioritized to reflect shared goals. The St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair are resources we all celebrate, and their restoration and protection will enable future generations to enjoy this cherished resource." Lt. Col. Robert Ells, district engineer for the USACE Detroit District said, "We are especially pleased to enter into the next phase of developing ecosystem restoration and protection plans for the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair. The Corps is working with an incredibly energetic, diverse and enthusiastic partnership committed to protecting this precious resource that people who live and play in this region enjoy."

    Access a release from Sen. Levin and link to the USACE approval memo (click here). Access the near final draft SIP (click here). Access USACE planning document website where the final SIP will be posted soon (click here). [GLakes/St.Clair]

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