EPA Region 5 reports that the U.S. Policy Committee has developed the Great Lakes Strategy 2002 to advance Great Lakes protection and restoration efforts in the new millennium. This Strategy will guide the efforts of the governmental partners in the U.S. Policy Committee for several years.
Great Lakes Strategy 2002 was created by the U.S. Policy Committee — a forum of senior-level representatives from the Federal, State, and Tribal agencies responsible for environmental and natural resources management of the Great Lakes — to help coordinate and streamline efforts of the many governmental partners involved with protecting the Great Lakes.
The Strategy focuses on multi-lake and basin-wide environmental issues and establishes common goals that the governmental partners will work toward. It supports existing efforts underway, including Lakewide Management Plans and Remedial Action Plans for Areas of Concern, by addressing issues that are beyond the scope of these programs and helping integrate them into an overall basinwide context. It also advances the implementation of the United States’ responsibilities under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of l987.
The Strategy was developed cooperatively by the Federal, State, and Tribal members of the U.S. Policy Committee, with the consultation of the Great Lakes public. Public workshops were held throughout the basin — in Duluth, Chicago, Detroit, and Niagara Falls — to solicit comments from local governments, industry, non-governmental environmental organizations, and the general public.
Together they have developed a shared, long-range vision for the Great Lakes, summarized in statements they intend to make facts:
• The Great Lakes Basin is a healthy natural environment for wildlife and people.
• All Great Lakes beaches are open for swimming.
• All Great Lakes fish are safe to eat.
• The Great Lakes are protected as a safe source of drinking water.
In support of this vision, the member agencies of the U.S. Policy Committee commit to work together to "protect and restore the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem."
The Strategy sets forth specific objectives and actions that will reduce contaminants, restore habitat, and protect the living resources of the basin. Specific objectives in this ambitious plan include:
• By 2005, clean-up and delist 3 Areas of Concern, with a cumulative total of 10 by 2010.
• By 2007, reduce concentrations of PCBs in lake trout and walleye by 25%.
• By 2007, establish 300,000 acres of buffer strips in agricultural lands.
• By 2010, 90% of Great Lakes beaches will be open 95% of the season.
• By 2010, restore or enhance 100,000 acres of wetlands in the Basin.
• By 2010, substantially reduce the further introduction of invasive species, both aquatic and terrestrial, to the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.
• Accelerate the pace of sediment remediation, leading to the clean-up of all sites by 2025.