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Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

When it was announced, the Environmental Protection Agency’s call for proposals through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) caused quite a stir among agencies, non-profits, and academia on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes. The potential for funding in lean times generated thousands of compelling arguments for why one project or another was worthy of funding, doable within a few years, and poised in a way that the outcomes could be monitored. Now that the grants have been awarded and the brouhaha surrounding them has settled down, the hard work has begun.

At the University of Minnesota, the funding is allowing researchers to examine a potential relationship involving botulism, algae and birds. Other university researchers will restore 200 acres (0.8 km2) of moose habitat near wetlands and monitor how the behemoths of the basin use restored sites. Another University project will expand existing work determining the condition of nearshore waters (U.S. and Canada) and testing the usefulness of indicators at previously sampled sites that have experienced landscape changes in the last 10 years.

Staff from Minnesota Sea Grant and other University departments will devote time over the next several years helping the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on a GLRI project to reduce sediment and phosphorus sources in Amity Creek (a Lake Superior tributary), and to generate an online residential mapping tool and ditch design manual. But with $1.7 million, GLRI funding truly ratcheted up Minnesota Sea Grant’s invasive species education and beach reporting. Here’s how:

Project: A Comprehensive Regional Public Outreach Campaign on Aquatic Invasive Species
Total Award: $1,555,235

Summary: Minnesota Sea Grant is leading a comprehensive outreach initiative involving the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and a variety of other partners. Efforts will focus on preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) over 15 pathways through social marketing and education. Featured components of the outreach campaign include Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!TM, Nab the Aquatic Invader, HabitattitudeTM, the AIS-HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) program, and new Web-based social networking opportunities. Driven by survey results and product histories, Sea Grant will produce 30 new or improved outreach products that should reach 40 communities and generate 4.85 million media exposures. Evaluating the influence this campaign and its products have on intended audiences will inform future AIS outreach, and provide a framework for replicating it elsewhere.

Project: Beach Information Communications System
Total Award: $198,140

Summary: Spearheaded by Minnesota Sea Grant and involving partners at Wisconsin and Michigan Sea Grant, and the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute, this project will give beach users access to an unprecedented amount of data about beaches, including rip current news,
bacterial monitoring, harmful algal blooms, and weather and water forecasts. By assembling all relevant beach information into a single "Beach Report" and
providing the data in multiple formats accessible through wireless technologies, beach users will have a one-stop shop for critical beach information on-the-go. This will result in fewer beach users swimming during unsafe conditions, and greater awareness of beach safety issues. "Beach Report" involves three beaches:

  • Minnesota Point beach in Duluth, Minn.

  • A beach in Grand Haven, Mich.

  • A Lake Michigan State Park beach.

By Sea Grant Staff
December 2010

Return to December 2010 Seiche

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