Ten Great Lakes fish and wildlife restoration projects totaling $571,750 have been announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for tribal governments, five states and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, promoting partnership efforts to help replenish habitat and improve natural resource management in the Great Lakes Basin.
The projects will be funded under authority of the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, which launched the program in 1998.
"I’m very proud that the Fish and Wildlife Service is able to be a catalyst in this vital international program that is so critical to the Great Lakes area," said Steve Williams, the Service Director. "There are enormous treasures, enormous fisheries and enormous economics all at play here. This work has never been more important."
The 10 approved projects focus primarily on the rehabilitation of sustainable fish populations and include the study of various species of fish, their reproduction, distribution, movement, diet and habitat within the Great Lakes ecosystem. One project will develop a Great Lakes-wide geographic information system to help drive future habitat restoration efforts. Another will map lake trout spawning reefs in Lake Michigan and study spawning of fish stocked by National Fish Hatcheries. A third will attempt to determine if steel-hulled barges actually help fish move past obstructions like the electric barrier designed to stop the Asian carp from moving to Lake Michigan through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.
Under sponsorship of Michigan, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and member tribes of the Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority (CORTA), funds will go to the University of Michigan, the U.S. Geological Survey, the State University of New York in Freedonia, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. Between 1998 and 2002, more than 50 organizations have brought matching funds and expertise to the Great Lakes restoration program.
The Fish and Wildlife Service contributes up to 75 percent of the cost of the projects, with matching funds this year coming from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Natural History Survey, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, CORA, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan, the State University of New York, the University of Windsor, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The Service has provided more than $2.2 million for similar projects since 1998.
Williams said the proposals presented this year represent a wide range of needs related directly to resource conservation issues identified in the 1995 Great Lakes Fishery Resources Restoration Study Report to Congress and by the Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes Fisheries.
Fish and wildlife restoration proposals are developed each year by the Service and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The Council of Lakes Committee, a 21-member body representing state, tribal and Canadian provincial agencies, recommends proposals for funding to the Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Service’s Great Lakes program includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York and 46 Service field stations in the Great Lakes Basin.
For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov For more information about Service programs and activities in the Great Lakes, visit our Great Lakes web site at http://midwest.fws.gov