The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced funding for three Toledo-area Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects totaling nearly $2.4 million. The projects will help to restore Lake Erie and put people back to work, using a conservation corps model to hire unemployed workers to improve habitats and cleanup the shoreline.
The three Toledo-area projects were selected from 44 proposals totaling almost $25 million, which were submitted in response to a $6 million challenge that EPA issued in August to encourage federal agencies to sign up unemployed workers to implement restoration projects in federally protected areas, on tribal lands and in Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin.
To qualify for funding, each project is required to provide jobs for at least 20 unemployed people.
"The tremendous response to EPA’s challenge underscores the large backlog of Great Lakes restoration projects that are ready to be implemented and the strong support that exists for using a conservation corps model to get the job done," EPA Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman said. "Over the next week, EPA will be announcing a total of eight restoration projects worth $6.6 million as part of this challenge. Each project will produce immediate, direct ecological benefits and will help to put unemployed people back to work."
The announcement includes $1 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to control invasive plants in the Lower Black River and another $811,252 to restore habitat in the Maumee River Area of Concern. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will receive $480,000 for conservation, restoration and outreach at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge on the southwest shore of Lake Erie.
"These habitat restoration projects are a win-win for the public and NOAA is extremely pleased to be part of this effort," NOAA Administrator Eric Schwaab said. "Citizens will be able to see fish and other wildlife coming back to a healthier environment; at the same time this work will provide good jobs and new skills for friends and neighbors."