PENNSYLVANIA: Coastal Zone Grants Fund Lake Erie Protections

MEADVILLE, Pennsylvania, February 15, 2022 (ENS) – Six projects in Pennsylvania have received Coastal Zone Grants totaling more than $250,000. Aimed at protecting and restoring the Lake Erie Coastal Zone, the grants will be used toward projects that will benefit this critical habitat and ecosystem, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, said.

“The Lake Erie Coastal Zone is an extraordinary environmental, economic, and community resource that is under growing pressure from threats such as development, pollution, and, increasingly, climate change,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

“Local organizations that develop strategies and carry out projects to restore and protect these natural resources are an important bulwark against these pressures. DEP is committed to supporting these partners with grant funding and technical assistance.”

Coastal zones are the areas where land meets the coast. They include both coastal waters and adjacent shorelands and are under increasing pressure from development, erosion, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

Coastal Zone Grants are awarded to projects related to fisheries, wetlands, recreation, public education, and coastal hazards such as bluff recession. Grants may be awarded to other projects in the watershed that have an impact on coastal waters.

The 77-mile Lake Erie Coastal Zone is in Pennsylvania’s Erie County and includes the Lake Erie shoreline and several major tributaries.

The coastal zone extends to the middle of the lake, to the international boundary with Canada, and inland an average of 1.4 miles.

DEP announced funding for these six awards at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, where the Regional Science Consortium, a grant recipient of $62,525, invited DEP officials to take a firsthand look at the research being conducted on harmful algal blooms as a result of receiving their grant.

“Harmful algal blooms remain a growing concern in Lake Erie,” said DEP Northwest Regional Director Erin Wells. “The Regional Science Consortium’s research is vital in helping protect the thousands of visitors to the shores of Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay.”

The funds to support Coastal Zone Grants come primarily from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA.

Approved projects include:

• City of Erie – $37,280 to create a stream restoration plan and design for McDannell Run within McClelland Park

• City of Erie Redevelopment Authority – $30,000 to complete a comprehensive plan for the East Bayfront Greenway Trail

• Erie Bird Observatory – $45,886 to conduct research on bird migration in the Lake Erie Coastal Zone

• Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development – $76,000 for coordination and technical assistance with Lake Erie coastal zone grantees, municipalities, and residents

• Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development – $6,000 to assist Lake Erie coastal communities in administering the Bluff Recession and Setback Act of 1980

• Regional Science Consortium – $62,525 to research the occurrence of saxitoxin from harmful algal blooms along the Lake Erie coastline.

Funded primarily by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the grants are administered by DEP’s Coastal Resources Management Program. Since federal approval of the DEP Coastal Resources Management Program in 1980, the program has provided more than $50 million in funding for coastal zone projects.

Featured image: Great Blue heron hunts in the wetlands of the Lake Erie Coastal Zone

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