Great Lakes Advocates Gather in Detroit: ‘Don’t Let Great Lakes Funding Dry Up’

7th Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference to Highlight Results of Restoration Activities, New Threats

DETROIT (October 12, 2011) — Some of North America’s most dramatic examples of ecosystem restoration will be featured in Detroit Oct. 11-14 at the 7th annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference hosted by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.  The meeting—attended by more than 330 activists from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—comes as the U.S. Congress debates the fate of restoration programs in the upcoming federal budget.

“Our message to Congress is simple: Don’t let Great Lakes funding dry up—more than 30 million depend on the lakes for drinking water,” said Jeff Skelding, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “Restoration activities are producing results, but there is more to do. If we cut the funding now, it will only cost more later because projects will only get harder and more expensive the longer we wait.”

Follow Great Lakes conference proceedings, look at pictures, watch video and read updates throughout the week at

The conference will highlight successful restoration projects and focus attention on the critical need to remove more toxic sediments from the Great Lakes, restore fish and wildlife habitat and prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from entering the lakes.

Read the conference agenda:

Three years after President Obama and Congress passed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the federal government has invested $775 million in restoration programs to clean up toxic pollution, restore habitat, reduce polluted run-off and combat invasive species. In short, the promise of Great Lakes restoration has started to become reality.

But there are looming challenges to Great Lakes restoration efforts. Against this backdrop, advocates, experts, researchers and public officials tackle the latest issues, including:

  • Asian carp and the Chicago Waterway System;
  • prioritizing restoration efforts;
  • Great Lakes restoration success stories;
  • environmental justice issues; and,
  • rural conservation projects help the lakes and farming communities

The 7th annual conference is part of “Great Lakes Week” in Detroit, an unprecedented gathering of U.S. and Canadian organizations working to restore and protect the lakes. Detroit Public Television is offering week-long coverage of “Great Lakes Week”—including live streaming—at

Detroit is home to several of the nation’s most dramatic restoration projects:

  • reductions in pollution discharges have improved water quality in the Detroit River;
  • whitefish, sturgeon and bald eagles have returned to the Detroit river system after being absent for decades;
  • the Rouge River, which was so polluted in the 1960s it caught fire, now supports a burgeoning fishery;
  • the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is North America’s first international wildlife refuge; and,
  • the Detroit Riverwalk has transformed the city’s waterfront from an industrial wasteland into a popular gathering spot and a catalyst for economic development.

Read about Detroit-area restoration stories at:

Ecosystem restoration is one of many aspects of  “Great Lakes Week,” which encompasses conferences hosted by the International Joint Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Areas of Concern Program, the Great Lakes Commission, The Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition and Environment Canada – the leading organizations that deal with Great Lakes issues.  For the first time, these events are being hosted in the same city in the same week.

Information about the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition’s Great Lakes Restoration Conference can be found at

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition consists of more than 115 environmental, conservation, outdoor recreation organizations, zoos, aquariums and museums representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. Learn more at:

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