Efforts to restore the Great Lakes are a model for other large ecosystems across the United States, according to an Obama Administration official.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is proving to be more effective than similar federal programs focused on restoring the Florida Everglades, Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, said Jay Jensen, associate director for Land and Water Conservation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Jensen made his comments at Great Lakes Days in Washington, D.C.
“The GLRI is the most organized and arguably the most effective large-scale water restoration program in the United States,” Jensen said. “You should be proud and celebrate the model that you are to the country.”
President Obama and Congress have provided $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative during the first three years of the program. The program is funding about 600 projects aimed at cleaning up toxic sediments, reducing polluted runoff, restoring wetlands and preventing new invasive species.
The GLRI is a rare example of bipartisan cooperation in Congress recently, said Jeff Skelding, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.
“Everything you hear about Washington is that it’s broken — the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the exception to that,” Skelding said.