Harkins, Merski: More than $250,000 in Lake Erie coastal grants awarded

Funding to support preservation, water testing, educational and recreational projects

ERIE, Dec. 17 – Grant funding of $252,717 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. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both 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; testing and analysis of algae-based toxins; rehabilitation of the Lakeside Park boat launch ramp, resources for an educational camp, and other projects.

“One of the unique aspects of Erie County is that more than three-quarters of our residents live within a coastal zone,” said Harkins, who is a member of the Great Lakes Commission. “Having that concentrated population stresses the ecosystem and creates problems such as nonpoint source pollution, water quality issues and shoreline erosion that threaten the natural environment. This funding is going to help us stave off these threats.

“Our district is also receiving nearly $50,000 to restore the Lakeside Park boat launch ramp infrastructure and restore it to its original condition for residents to ensure maximum safe use for residents.”

Merski said: “Those of us who grew up along Lake Erie’s shores understand the special joys – and many economic benefits – the lake provides. But protecting and preserving the lake, the shoreline and the fragile ecosystems that live here require vigilant attention and planning. The funding awarded today is going to give us the resources we need to manage the delicate balance between use and enjoyment on the one hand and conservation and preservation on the other.

“Additional funding will support an eight-day summer camp hosted by Gannon University to teach students about coastal resources and concerns, which is a great way to ensure the next generation is as invested in caring for the lake as we are.”

The lawmakers said the grants include the following:

  • $75,000 to support and assist grantees, municipalities in the Lake Erie Watershed and organizations serving the watershed in developing and implementing coastal preservation strategies.
  • $50,000 to support ongoing testing and analysis of water for algal-bloom-related cyanotoxins.
  • $45,000 to rehabilitate the Lakeside Park boat launch ramp and restore it to its original condition.
  • $12,217 to support Gannon University’s Regional Summer School of Excellence.
  • $9,000 to assist local municipalities regarding the Bluff Recession Setback Act.

Additional funding includes $50,000 to the 3rd Legislative District for research into coastal zone bird migration and $11,500 to the 4th District for Mobi-Mats to improve North East Beach accessibility.

More information about the grants is available here.