A recently released report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) implemented more than 2,500 projects during its first five years.
In addition, the GLRI protected and restored shorelines and wetlands, reduced phosphorus runoff and harmful algal blooms, and prevented the spread of invasive species.
While the Great Lakes are the world’s largest system of surface freshwater, the area has faced environmental challenges, with 43 heavily contaminated sites spread throughout the region as recently as 1987. The GLRI was created in 2010 to help restore and protect the lakes and surrounding habitats.
“The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is making the Great Lakes healthier and local economies stronger,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who is also the chair of the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, said. “With continued commitment from GLRI partners, we will continue to improve the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem and the communities that depend on that ecosystem for generations to come.”
Projects implemented since the GLRI’s inception have protected more than 148,000 acres of local habitats and worked to garner agricultural cooperation in lowering phosphorus levels, and therefore algal blooms. These efforts have resulted in five Great Lakes Areas of Concern being delisted.
The EPA’s report was submitted to the White House and Congress.