NEMWI Hosts Briefings on 21st Century Monitoring Technology and the Future of the GLRI

Last week, NEMWI’s Great Lakes Washington Program hosted two Capitol Hill briefings. Great Lakes Task Force Co-Chairs, Sens. Carl Levin (MI) and Mark Kirk (IL) and Reps. Candice Miller (MI-10), John Dingell (MI-12), Sean Duffy (WI-07), and Louise Slaughter (NY-25), were honorary co-sponsors of the briefings. The first briefing, entitled “21st Century Innovation in Great Lakes Monitoring: Fisheries Science and Technology,” took place on Tuesday, June 10. Speakers from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center, and Michigan Tech University’s Great Lakes Research Center highlighted the many partners-federal, state, local, tribal, and academia-involved in monitoring the Great Lakes ecosystem, which supports a $7 billion fishery industry. The speakers focused on new technology implemented in the Great Lakes, such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative-funded acoustic telemetry network, which brings new information, like fish movement and behavior, to managers despite more and complex ecosystem stressors. Additionally, the speakers noted that winter weather currently prevents critical observations. A binational Great Lakes wide, year-round hybrid-observatory system could address this “scientific blindness.” The second briefing, entitled “GLRI Draft FY2015-19 Action Plan,” held on Wednesday, June 11, featured speakers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They discussed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Program (GLRI), including past successes and the recently-released draft FY2015-19 Action Plan. The next Action Plan will direct the priorities and efforts for the coming five years. Highlights of the draft plan include:

  • Incorporation of Government Accountability Office recommendations to refine the Measures of Progress to more fully encompass success of all GLRI-funded projects and begin the steps to incorporate climate resiliency into projects to prevent climate change from undermining success;
  • A continued emphasis on Asian carp control measures, among controls on other invasive species like the wetland plant Phragmites, sea lamprey, and zebra mussels; and
  • Assumption of an annual base level of funding of $275 million over the Action Plan (down from $475 million assumed during the previous Action Plan and lower than recent appropriations of $300 million).

NEMWI’s short summary and side-by-side of the Draft Action Plan is available here.