Erie lawmakers issue statement on new coastal zone funding

ERIE, Feb. 9 – State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski issued the following statements regarding state funding for coastal zone projects.

“The Lake Erie watershed and its delicate ecosystem face ongoing threats from pollution and other environmental hazards,” said Harkins, who sits on the Great Lakes Commission. “Phosphorus runoff and the harmful algae blooms it creates have long posed a danger to the health of the lake and the safety of our drinking water, and we have been working with the commission to track progress in combating the problem. This funding is going to help efforts to address the problem.”

Merski said, “Once again, I am thrilled to see the state making major investments to protect Lake Erie and coastal ecosystems. This funding will build on previous rounds of state funding to ensure that these important ecosystems and natural areas are protected for future generations. But this is about more than just protecting critical wildlife habitats. The health of our region and communities – economic and social – are very much tied to the health of the lake the surrounding regions. In many ways, the lake defines our region and is a critical component of the place we all call home.”

Approved projects include: 

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

•           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 for 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.

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, it has provided more than $50 million in funding for coastal zone projects.

Additional information on the funding is available here: