Harkins, Merski: More than $264,000 to address Lake Erie Coastal Zone projects

ERIE, Oct. 22 – Grants totaling more than $264,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will fund programs to address coastal zone erosion and educate the public about related environmental issues, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced.

Merski and Harkins said some of the grants include:

  • $50,000 to the Erie Times-News in Education for a weekly feature on coastal zone environmental issues.
  • $50,000 to the Regional Science Consortium to research the geographical sources of E. coli contamination at Presque State Park beaches.
  • $15,000 to Mercyhurst University to develop a bluff erosion model along Lake Erie’s shoreline.
  • $15,000 to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for shorebird monitoring at Presque Isle State Park.
  • $5,500 to the Erie County Conservation District to develop an invasive species management plan for Millcreek’s Headwaters Park and to finance a youth education program.

“Education is always a critical first step in raising awareness and then promoting best practices, and this is especially true when it comes to environmental issues,” Merski said. “The more we educate the public about the unique characteristics and challenges affecting coastal zones, the better we become about being good stewards of this amazing and beautiful natural resource.”

Harkins agreed, saying, “I’m especially pleased about the grant to Mercyhurst University to address erosion, which is a major issue affecting the shoreline. The funding allows us to put our best minds to the problem and develop realistic, science-based solutions.”

Other grants awarded include $79,000 to Erie County for assistance with Lake Erie coastal zone projects and help administering the Bluff Recession and Setback Act of 1980, and $50,000 for stream restoration of Millcreek’s Wilkins Run.

Coastal zones are areas where land meets the sea and include both coastal waters and adjacent shorelands. These areas are under increasing pressure from development, erosion, biodiversity loss and pollution.

Coastal Zone grants are awarded to projects related to fisheries, wetlands, stormwater management improvements, recreation, public education, coastal hazards such as bluff recession, and other areas. Grants may also be awarded to other projects in the watershed that have an impact on coastal waters.