The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday unveiled $161 million for 270 projects from Minnesota to New York as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The money is part of the $475 million approved by Congress last year to help stem the tide of invasive species, stop sewage overflows, reduce beach closings, clean up toxic sediments, prevent future pollution, and protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat in and near the lakes.
In Minnesota, projects range from reducing mercury in taconite plant emissions to restoring Amity Creek in Duluth, and supporters praised the new-flowing cash for "shovel ready" projects that will begin to help reverse years of ecological losses for the lakes.
The Amity Creek project -- led by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute, Sea Grant and other agencies -- received $843,616 to help restore stream banks and fix slopes of feeder creeks to improve water quality in the stream that feeds into Lake Superior.
Several projects already are under way along the Duluth creek that has been hit hard by human activity over the past 150 years.
"The creek is a source of phosphorus, nutrients and sedimentation and mercury for western Lake Superior," said Rich Axler, NRRI researcher. "Improve the water quality in the stream and you improve it in the lake."
But many Lake Superior projects did not get funding this year, with the EPA receiving more than 1,000 grant applications.
Other Minnesota projects include:
21st Century Invasive Species Outreach to Anglers -- Wildlife Forever, $126,000
Comprehensive Regional Public Outreach Campaign on Aquatic Invasive Species -- U of M, $1,555,235
Avian botulism in Cladophora: Growth, toxins and management -- U of M, $390,188.
Beach Information Communication System -- U of M, $198,140.
Great Lakes Environmental Indicators testing -- U of M, $1,625,769
Great Lakes Consortium Fish Consumption Advisory Enhancement -- Minnesota Department of Health, $1,207,055.
Great Lakes Restoration Effects on Fish Mercury Levels -- Science Museum of Minnesota, $265,235.
Invasive species public outreach in an aquarium setting -- Great Lakes Aquarium, $134,485.
Flute Reed River Restoration Initiatives -- Minnesota PCA, $540,603.
Restoring Lake Superior's Streams One Neighbor at a Time -- Community Action Duluth, $636,365.
Restoring moose foraging habitat in Lake Superior uplands -- U of M, $193,432.
St. Louis River Area of Concern Implementation Framework Development -- Minnesota PCA, $411,680.
Taconite Mercury Emission Control Studies: Phase One -- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, $1,591,985.
Other Great Lakes regional projects funded include water monitoring system with buoys, a Sea Grant water safety initiative, and monitoring to determine the health and function of wetlands. For Wisconsin areas of Lake Superior's watershed, the projects include:
Barrens Habitat Restoration for Endangered/Threatened Species -- Wisconsin DNR, $109,430.
Chequamegon Bay Area Partnership Habitat Restoration Project -- Northland College, $251,414.
Chequamegon Bay Partnership Beach Sanitary Surveys Project -- Northland College, $192,116.
Implementing Wisconsin DNR Lake Superior Near Shore Monitoring Plan -- University of Wisconsin-Superior, Lake Superior Research Institute, $971,714.
Lake Superior Binational Forum management plan implementation/outreach -- Lake Superior Binational Forum at Northland College, $144,623.
Mercury testing and updating tribal walleye consumption advice -- Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, $458,524.
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Septic System Project -- Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, $365,637.
Risk Assessment of Invasive Species to Tribal Resources -- Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, $142,430.
The Ashland/Chequamegon Bay Shoreland Restoration Project -- Wisconsin DNR, $222,491.
John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com.