By Cameron Davis
If Earth Day should be celebrated every day, then Great Lakes Week should be every week. To the relief of the conference organizers, I’m not talking about a conference every week. However, I am talking about keeping alive the themes and energy that came from the first-ever Great Lakes Week.
This mega event was hosted in Detroit, October 11-14, through the innovative partnership of several organizations including the U.S. EPA, the Great Lakes Interagency Task Force, Environment Canada, the International Joint Commission, the Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition, the Great Lakes Commission and Wayne State University. These organizations all work separately on Great Lakes Restoration, but Great Lakes Week gave us an opportunity to take action together, set priorities for the coming years, and, most importantly show results.
Speaker after speaker echoed that the region needs to keep its focus on results – that is, work that shows direct ecological benefit to the health of the Great Lakes. Administrator Lisa Jackson highlighted work under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that is already beginning to show results:
· Some 140 acres of wetlands restored at the Shiawassee Flats Wetland restoration area in Michigan’s Saginaw River basin is bringing back fish and wildlife habitat, improving water quality and reducing flooding.
· Swimming bans and advisories at Chicago’s beaches are at a five-year low; other beaches are seeing decreases in beach closures.
· Cleaning up toxic hotspot Areas of Concern, with dramatic progress at White Lake and River Raisin in Michigan, the Sheboygan River in Wisconsin, and the Ashtabula River in Ohio.
Missed the conference and want to see highlights? Go to greatlakesnow.org to watch on-demand video footage of the week’s events. After all, it’s not that Great Lakes Weeks should be held every week, but we should make sure that we are achieving results every week of the year.
Find out more about our Great Lakes restoration efforts at www.glri.us, or follow me on Twitter (@CameronDavisEPA). If you missed out on Great Lakes Week and still have questions, feel free to ask them in the comment box or send me a tweet.
About the author: Cameron Davis is Senior Advisor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. He provides counsel on Great Lakes matters, including 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.