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Great Lakes Restoration: Charting a Path Forward

2011 October 6

By Peter Cassell

Growing up in New Jersey, I always had access to the beach, which every New Jersean knows as the Jersey Shore. Then I went off to college and didn’t get to enjoy ocean anymore. After accepting a job in EPA’s Chicago office, I got a pleasant surprise. There were beaches right near my apartment. Once again, I had access to the water. Lake Michigan does not have that same salty smell as the beaches of Long Beach Island, New Jersey, but going to the beach just has a way of reminding me of home.

When I was not off enjoying and exploring what my new home had to offer, I was hard at work trying to learn about a central piece of my new job: the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. I received crash courses on emerging chemicals, invasive species and other issues affecting the lakes and soon realized that I had a precious resource right in my own backyard. Until I came here, I didn’t really grasp that millions of people rely on the lakes for everything from drinking water to their livelihoods to recreation with friends and family. I learned that the Great Lakes are more than just places on a map, they are a way of life.

I fell in love with the Chicago waterfront and was ready to help make the lakes better so that everyone can enjoy them. When EPA’s Great Lakes Advisor Cameron Davis asked me to help organize Great Lakes Week, I jumped at the chance to do something tangible. We worked for months with nonprofits, businesses and Great Lakes organizations to put on the most wide-ranging Great Lakes summit in history. Hundreds of people will gather in Detroit from October 11-14 to be a part of this historic event. With speakers including Administrator Jackson and former Vice President Al Gore, the week is poised to chart a path forward as we address key issues and work together to achieve results.

Even if you do not live in Metro Detroit, you can still participate by watching the events online at www.greatlakesnow.org or tweeting questions to @CameronDavisEPA with hashtag #AskGLW. We are even taking questions through Facebook at www.facebook.com/epagreatlakes.  Select questions will be featured at the Great Lakes Week Panel and Town Hall.

Do you have a favorite memory about your beach or have you done something to help keep it clean? Feel free to share it with me along with your thoughts on the Great Lakes in the comment section. To find out more about our Great Lakes restoration efforts, visit

About the author: Peter Cassell is a Press Officer in Region 5 who focuses on water issues, the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    October 6, 2011

    Great Lakes Week : Remembering Marco Polo.-

    He was one of The Great Discoverer of The World. Our children should know what His thought, done and hoped with creates lake as the route around like the world. The lake is a symbol of his journey. If the children imagine an aura of kindness the great lakes and then the sea of the earth, then it will not impossible they love the sky, future….

  2. oswaldo sanviti permalink
    October 6, 2011

    si , eso esta bien, el viejo indio Hopi , decia que uno recibiria de la tierra y del agua lo que uno le daba, hay sabiduria del anciano…

  3. Margie McDonald permalink
    October 6, 2011

    I share your love of the water and know that smell of the sea air very well. Living at the Jersey Shore has been a life long dream that we made come true 10 years ago. There truly is nothing like coming home to the lake in my yard and beach a 1/2 block away. This year, our lake has been noticeably polluted and I tried my best to get it cleaned up to no avail. Any guidance you might have would be greatly appreciated.

    Good luck with the summit. It sounds great!

  4. Donna Marie Williams permalink
    October 7, 2011

    Growing up in Newark, N.J., it was always going “down to the shore”. Lazy, sun filled days of surf, tides, sand, brightly colored umbrellas, blankets and chairs. Or boat outings that resulted with bussels of crabs for a family Sunday dinner of garlic crabs, crabs pomadora and spaghetti. Sunscreen consisted of iodine and baby oil. Not adviseable for today based on our current knowledge.

  5. Katie Lubinsky permalink
    October 11, 2011

    I was born and raised by a beach in southeastern N.C. and, also, went away to college at UNC where there was obviously no more ocean. I remember the change of the senses with the move (to present day since I still live in the Triangle area): no more salty / fish smell in the air, less purified air, no more ocean sounds (waves, gulls, wind, the sea grass brushing up against one another, etc.), and most of all, no more wonderful sight of the ocean. I used to volunteer to pick up trash from the beach after tourist season as well as help out with sea turtles once or twice. I work at the EPA and am happy that I work at an agency that helps protect the ocean. I just wish I could see it more often.

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