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Citizens Identify Priorities for Lake Superior Restoration

July 21, 2004

The priority of people attending a recent Lake Superior restoration workshop is public funding to restore and protect coastal habitats crucial to fish and wildlife diversity. With almost equal keenness, the 100 workshop attendees want sustainable practices adopted in the Great Lakes that protect natural resources while enhancing recreational and commercial values.

Minnesota and Wisconsin citizens developed this consensus at the Lake Superior Restoration and Protection Priorities workshop held in Duluth on June 30. The workshop was conducted by the Minnesota and Wisconsin Sea Grant programs in cooperation with the Great Lakes Commission and the Council of Great Lakes Governors. It was one of several held throughout the region supported by the National Sea Grant College Program with the goal of enhancing opportunities to obtain significant long-term funding to protect and restore Great Lakes ecosystems.

“We had an impressive afternoon of public input,” said Carl Richards, director of the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program. “The level of commitment and the wide array of people who came to discuss Lake Superior restoration boosts the possibility that Lake Superior and the Great Lakes will receive the federal attention they truly need.”

Workshop proceedings will be prepared in the coming weeks that convey the thoughts and interests of workshop participants regarding nine priorities for restoration identified by the Council of Great Lakes Governors. The priorities discussed include issues such as pollution, invasive species, public health concerns, water quantity management, and protection of critical habitats. Results of a previous workshop sponsored by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership will also be included and submitted to the Great Lakes Commission and the Council of Great Lakes Governors.

Workshop attendees also thought it important to ensure that the federal government reauthorizes over $35 million to restore habitats and coastal wetlands crucial to fish and wildlife diversity. Federal legislators are currently considering two bills that would appropriate between $4 billion and $6 billion for restoration work within the Great Lakes over the next five to ten years.

“There are about a half-dozen definitions for ‘restoration,’” said Anders Andren, Director of Wisconsin Sea Grant, “but from Webster to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, they all mean about the same thing.”

Andren described restoration as the intent to reestablish the structure and function of ecological systems. He suggested that, in the Great Lakes, it means reestablishing natural processes and developing standards with which to measure the system.

Direct inquiries and comments regarding Lake Superior’s restoration workshop and proceedings to Minnesota Sea Grant by calling (218) 726-8106 or through e-mail at seagr@d.umn.edu.

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