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Section 506 of the Water Resource Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000) authorized 100 million for the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to plan, design, and construct projects to restore the fishery, ecosystem, and beneficial uses of the Great Lakes with 35 percent matching funds from nonfederal project sponsors. The U.S. Congress appropriated 300,000 over FY 2002 and FY 2003 to initiate the development of the support plan in cooperation with the signatories to A Joint Strategic Plan for Management of the Great Lakes Fisheries under the auspices of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC), and other affected interests. The GLFC provided the nonfederal matching funds.

Public Sector Consultants Inc., in partnership with Environmental Consulting and Technology Inc. and affiliated consultants, was retained by the USACE to prepare the plan under the joint guidance of the USACE and the GLFC in response to the authorization and directives contained in WRDA 2000. Members of a Support Plan Steering Committee consisting of state and tribal representatives from each of the five GLFC Lake Committees and a Great Lakes university research scientist, jointly appointed by the USACE and the GLFC, provided guidance, technical review, and comment at each stage of the support plan development process. Representatives from the GLFC and USACE participated in steering committee deliberations.

The recommended support plan outlines the opportunities and priorities for Great Lakes fishery and ecosystem restoration projects identified through a steering committee survey of state, provincial, international, and regional organizations and federal agencies in the United States and Canada that have responsibilities or programs related to the management, protection, and/or research of the Great Lakes fishery and ecosystem. The plan recommends a process for the review and evaluation of construction projects proposed under this program including criteria for establishing priorities and methods for evaluation. The recommended plan also includes steps to encourage collaborative efforts between various Great Lakes interests and related programs funded by public agencies and private organizations. Finally, the plan describes administrative considerations of this program that need to be addressed to assure that the program is embraced by potential nonfederal project sponsors, particularly state resource management agencies that have been identified as the primary source of the nonfederal share of project dollars.

Potential projects will span the entire Great Lakes basin from Minnesota on the western end of Lake Superior east to the 45th parallel on the St. Lawrence River in New York, including all five Great Lakes, their tributary rivers, and connecting waterways. The degree of monitoring and evaluation will depend on the scope, cost, and complexity of the proposed project.

The geographic scope of this new program, the wide variety of potential projects, the coordination needed and mandated under Sec. 506 of the WRDA 2000, and, perhaps most important, the expectations of the state resource management agencies will require a different administrative approach than that common to most other USACE programs. In addition, the development of a large new federal program in the Great Lakes that focuses on fishery resource management issues must take into account the past relationship between state and federal agencies operating in the Great Lakes, and the emphasis the states have historically placed on their primary management responsibility.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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