SPRINGFIELD - To further protect Illinois' valuable coastal resources, Governor Rod Blagojevich today announced the state will join the national Coastal Management Program (CMP). The CMP is a voluntary effort administered by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which could bring up to $2 million in federal funding annually to enhance and protect Illinois' Lake Michigan shoreline.
“Lake Michigan and its coastal resources are vital to Illinois' cultural and economic health,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We’ve seen significant improvements to our shoreline in the last 30 years, but our coast is showing signs of stress from use. Joining the national Coastal Management Program will help us better protect and manage our natural and cultural resources along this magnificent stretch of Illinois’ coast.”
The CMP aims to balance environmental conservation and economic development to protect water quality and ecosystems while ensuring that Illinois maintains its strong coastal economy. Local units of government, including Chicago and other coastal communities, could receive grants to:
· Protect and restore natural resources such as wetlands, coastal habitat and fisheries.
· Develop comprehensive plans for the management of coastal resources.
· Redevelop urban waterfronts and ports.
· Preserve and restore historic, cultural, and aesthetic coastal features.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will lead the State's CMP development process in cooperation with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn.
“Beach closings, a decline in commercial fishing, and invasive species highlight the importance of Lake Michigan to the people of Illinois,” Lt. Gov. Quinn said. “Governor Blagojevich’s vision in joining the Coastal Management Program is an investment in the future of the Great Lakes.”
“Governor Blagojevich’s foresight in applying for the Coastal Management Program ensures that the Lake Michigan shoreline will remain healthy and prosperous for generations to come,” said IDNR Director Joel Brunsvold.
Organizations like the Lake Michigan Federation and legislators from the Great Lakes region all played an important role in bringing the CMP and its benefits to the Governor's attention.
“Governor Blagojevich’s commitment to move forward is the right thing to do especially under tight fiscal times,” said Cameron Davis, Executive Director of the Lake Michigan Federation, an advocate for Illinois joining the program. “The millions of residents and visitors to the lakefront every year understand that water quality is good for property values, preventing sewage overflows helps keep beaches open, and coastal habitat enhances recreation. Joining the program will help Illinois accomplish these things.”
“I applaud Governor Blagojevich for working with the legislature and the Lake Michigan Federation on taking this historic step to begin to protect and preserve a healthy Lake Michigan,” said Rep. Harry Osterman (D-Chicago).
Over the next several months, as part of the CMP application process, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will be meeting with Illinois’ coastal communities and Cook and Lake Counties to hear from them how to best develop and administer the CMP and to better understand the local issues and interests.