11/17/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/17/2020 09:40
For decades, Michigan's Muskegon Lake was considered one of the most degraded areas in the Great Lakes region. NOAA and the Great Lakes Commissionhave partnered since 2008 to restore habitat and improve water quality in the area. With much of this work nearly finished, Muskegon Lake could soon be removed from the list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern.
In the late 1800s, Muskegon was home to many different industries, including lumber mills, chemical companies, foundries, a coal-fired power plant, and a paper mill. Over time, these industries filled in the shoreline of the lake and contaminated the water and sediment with compounds such as mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This resulted in habitat loss and degradation, water quality concerns, and declines in fish and wildlife populations.
In 1985, Muskegon Lake was listed as a Great Lakes Area of Concern, one of 43 'toxic hot spots' in the United States and Canada. Designation as an Area of Concern is based on a list of 'beneficial use impairments.' These factors indicate how a waterway's poor conditions are affecting the environment, human health, and the local economy. Local, state, and federal partners work to restore an Area of Concern by addressing its impairments. Once all a waterway's impairments have been addressed, its designation as an Area of Concern can be removed, a process known as 'delisting.'
NOAA-supported restoration projects in the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern.
NOAA works through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiativeto implement habitat restoration throughout the Great Lakes region, including in Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Through the initiative, we have provided funding to the Great Lakes Commission to support several habitat restoration projects in the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern. These projects, overseen by the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, include:
NOAA and the Great Lakes Commission are also supporting ecological monitoring for many of these projects, which is being conducted through the Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Center.
In addition to our restoration work through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, NOAA selected Muskegon Lake as one of our ten Habitat Focus Areas. We also invested $10 million into habitat restoration in Muskegon Lake through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. A 2011 study determined that, over 15 years, the Recovery Act funding we invested in Muskegon Lake restoration will result in a 6-to-1 return to the local economy.
Combined, our many efforts in the Muskegon Lake region are helping to restore this important ecosystem and support Great Lakes fisheries and communities.