Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $260,000 in Lake Erie coastal grants awarded

Funding to support preservation, marine debris cleanup efforts, educational and recreational projects

ERIE, Jan. 24 – Grant funding of $268,048 from the state Department of Environmental Protection will support efforts to protect and preserve Lake Erie’s coastal zone region and fund related projects, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro,  Bob Merski, and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie, announced today.

The lawmakers said the grants will fund technical support and assistance for ongoing efforts to manage and protect the Lake Erie watershed; tracking the habits of Yellow Perch migration between Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie; establishing a Lake Friendly program to address marine debris; and other projects.

“We are incredibly lucky to have Lake Erie in our backyard. It attracts millions of visitors every year, creating billions of dollars of annual revenue for our area. But that comes with the responsibility to ensure that we’re protecting the space and all that comes with it,” said Bizzarro. “This funding will go a long way toward sustaining the environment, inhabitants and visitors of the Lake Erie Coastal Zone.”

“Erie County is blessed with abundant natural resources and remains a premier destination for recreational and outdoor activities,” said Harkins, who is a member of the Great Lakes Commission. “Lake Erie is a vital resource for our commonwealth, and we must continue to be diligent in protecting it from existential threats. This funding is going to help us preserve Lake Erie for generations to come.”

Merski said: “Lake Erie is woven into the fabric of our community, enriching the lives of millions who have had the privilege to explore its vast offerings. From fishing for Steelhead or Yellow Perch, to taking a walk along its miles of pristine shoreline, Lake Erie has always been there for us. These investments in wide-ranging initiatives will ensure the lake remains the focal point of cultural activity for our region.”

The lawmakers said the grants include the following:

  • $82,000 to support and assist municipalities and organizations to develop meaningful strategies for stewardship of Lake Erie.
  • $65,831 to support ongoing efforts to reduce marine debris and encourage responsible recycling.
  • $74,940 to study migration habits of the Yellow Perch.
  • $45,277 for research into coastal zone bird migration and its impact on tourism.

More information about the grants is available here

Today’s announcement continues Bizzarro’s efforts to allocate state money to properly fund Erie schools, workforce development, nonprofits, first responders, public works, utilities and local businesses in his district and Erie County. His team has helped secure $511,256 just in the month of January. 

So far this legislative session of 2023-24, Bizzarro has helped secure more than $57.6 million for Erie County projects, including $30,286,290.20 in grants and $27,270,626 in low-interest loans for Erie water and sewer upgrades that include lead pipe removal projects.