Last week the US Environmental Protection Agency released the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II, which will will guide federal restoration efforts for the next five years. The first Action Plan began in 2009, and since then the nation has invested more than $1.6 billion on more than 2,100 restoration projects on the US side through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to curb some of the most pressing problems facing the lakes. The new Action Plan will build off of successes over the last five years, while evaluating the effectiveness of restoration efforts to make them as efficient and effective as possible. Public input and a technical advisory board have helped to shape each plan—and all of the funding for the initiative has been funneled through the EPA and then distributed to more than a dozen other federal agencies, which has enabled better coordination among agencies and, as a result, more effective on-the-ground projects.
Among the other goals, the initiative seeks an eightfold increase in the amount of urban runoff that its projects capture or treat, and a doubling of wetlands and wildlife habitat that is restored. It would more than double the acreage covered by efforts to control invasive species, from plants to insects to the bighead carp. And it would try to reduce phosphorus fertilizer runoff by more than 1,400 tons by 2019.