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Lorain will use Great Lakes grant to fight invasives and unemployment
County gets one of 11 EPA grants announced today

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Phragmites and purple loostrife have invaded the rivers flowing into Lake Erie.
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Lorain County is one of 11 groups getting $5 million in special Great Lakes Restoration grants to try to fight invasive species. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the project designed to fight not only environmental threats, but long-term unemployment.

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For decades, steel mills largely blocked long stretches of the view and use of the Black River and Lake Erie. The economy has changed, and so has Lorain County’s vision of the river.

Today’s EPA grant recipients are:

  • Loyola University, $500,000 to target invasive plants from 355 acres of coastal marsh and meadow in the Lake Huron watershed. The project will convert 800 tons of harvested invasive plant material into fuel pellets to heat homes and small businesses.
  • Friends of the Forest Preserves, $500,000 to reduce and eradicate invasive plant species from 277 acres of wetlands in the southern Lake Michigan watershed.   
  • Friends of the Detroit River, $470,000 to control invasive plant species on Belle Isle in the Detroit River. Includes an outreach/education program.
  • Huron Pines Resource Conservation and Development (Michigan), $250,000 to expand a phragmites early detection/rapid response program in the Lake Huron watershed.  
  • Michigan State University, $500,000 to test the effectiveness of a"Push-Pull” technique to trap sea lamprey in the Lake Huron watershed.
  • Michigan Technological University, $500,000 to prevent the spread of Eurasian watermilfoil, an invasive plant in Lake Huron and Lake Superior waterways.  
  • Ducks Unlimited, $500,000 to improve the quality of 205 acres of coastal marsh in the Lake Ontario watershed by removing and inhibiting the growth of invasive cattails.
  • New York State Office of Parks, $410,000 to establish a new boat stewardship/invasive species prevention program at 15 previously unmonitored boat launches and marinas along Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.  
  • Paul Smith’s College, $500,000 to extend the Eastern Lake Ontario Headwaters Watercraft Inspector Program.
  • Lorain County, Ohio, $500,000 to control invasive plants, particularly phragmites, and to restore 30 acres of habitat in the Lake Erie watershed.
  • University of Toledo, $500,000 to develop “next-generation e-DNA sequencing” technology to ID invasive mussels and insects.

But using it for recreation and tourism means cleaning it of, among other things, invasive weeds.  

Spokesman Dan Romancak says the $500,000 grant will build on what the county has already started, beginning with recruiting long-term unemployed people. 

“We provide additional training with first aid, plant identification, how to properly use the equipment that’s provided. And because of the nature of locations we’re in it is a very difficult job, and one that I do not envy. It’s very intensive going into some stands of phragmites with a weed cutter and knocking them down.” 

And Romancak says the cutting is just to get the perennial grass to the point where crews can move in with weed killer.

He says the new money should allow the county to clear about 30 acres.

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