Feds taking comments on Great Lakes plan


On September 30, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will have completed its first four years. And the federal task force that oversees the effort to improve the health of the Great Lakes has released its draft action plan for fiscal years 2015 through 2019. The group is accepting public comments on the draft plan in advance of the release of the final plan by October 1.

Comments should be submitted by June 30 to http://glri.us/public.html or e-mailed to actionplan@glnpo.net.

The Great Lakes Interagency Task Force will hold two public webinars on the preliminary plan. The first is at 2 p.m. on Monday, June 9, and can be accessed at  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/789861232. The second is at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, June 10, at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/841679520.

Under the GLRI, federal agencies provide funding for projects to improve the Great Lakes ecosystem. In the first four years, projects focused on cleaning up toxic pollution, preventing the introduction or spread of invasive species, preventing near-shore water pollution from storm water runoff, and restoring coastal wetlands and habitat.

The draft plan for 2015 through 2019 emphasizes the same type of efforts. But it'll use a new approach to prioritize projects. The agencies will identify the most significant remaining problems in the Great Lakes system and work to address them. And they'll also consider a project's ability to withstand the effects of climate change, as well as a project's ability to mitigate anticipated climate shifts.

In the Rochester area, GLRI funding has supported a range of projects. For example, Monroe County worked with the US Geological Survey to develop a new model for determining when to close the county's public beaches to swimming. And a University of Rochester researcher is leading a study of sturgeon tissue that will help gauge pollution levels in the Genesee River and the Rochester Embayment (a recessed area of the lake between Parma and Webster).

The Rochester Embayment area will again be targeted during the second phase of the GLRI, says the draft report.