Huge Great Lakes restoration effort will include help for people affected by changes to the lakes
A major effort to clean up and help the environment of the Great Lakes could expand its efforts to help people.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, or GLRI, has cleaned up toxic hot spots, battled invasive species, restored fisheries habitat and more. The GLRI reports it received approximately $3.8 billion from FY 2010 to FY 2021.
A new round of funding starts in 2025. Officials are looking for ways to help people in disadvantaged communities that may be affected by climate change, pollution or other damage to the Great Lakes and its tributaries in its Action Plan IV which is just beginning to be developed.
“What we feel needs to come in addition to that is a focus on people, is a focus on public health, economic impact, those communities most impacted by pollution," said Laura Rubin, Director of Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. That group represents a wide swath of interests in the Great Lakes basin, including hunting and fishing groups, environmental groups, tribes, and others (see list of members here).
It, like many other groups, will have input on the next phase of GLRI spending. Much of the money is likely to go to continued clean up of the most polluted spots in the Great Lakes basin which are called Areas of Concern. But with approximately $400 million-plus to spend each year, there are other needs that can be addressed.
“We’re also looking at it as, is it helping prevent flooding in Detroit, flooding in our urban areas, in our streets or our rural areas? In terms of our Areas of Concern, do they have objectives about including the community in local decisions,” Rubin said, adding that the new phase operating should also include local communities in local decisions.
She also noted that the planning process should work to ensure the cultural knowledge of indigenous tribes is heard and included.