Grand Lake St. Marys In Federal Program

ST. MARYS — The fight to help restore Grand Lake St. Marys has gone to Washington.

In a news release obtained by The Evening Leader, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced two Ohio projects — the restoration at Grand Lake St. Marys and the completion of the Ohio to Erie Trail — are among the 100 projects nationwide that will be highlighted in next week’s report as part of President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative. The program sets to establish a 21st century conservation and recreation agenda and reconnect residents to the outdoors.

Officials compiled the report by visiting with governors and project stakeholders across the country. According to the news release, the projects were identified for the potential to conserve lands and build recreational opportunities as well as promote economic growth.

“Under the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, we are listening to the people of Ohio and communities across America and working with them on locally based projects that will conserve the beauty and health of our land and water and open up more opportunities for people to enjoy them,” Salazar said in a news release.

“My staff and I have been asking each governor for the most promising projects to support in their states, and we will do all we can to help move them forward.”

When released, the report will include possible assistance the Department of the Interior and its bureaus can provide to helping restore Grand Lake St. Marys and its watershed. The department also could provide technical and financial assistance to help improve conditions at the lake.

“The America’s Great Outdoors Initiative turns the conventional wisdom about the federal government’s role in conservation on its head,” Salazar said in a news release.

“Rather than dictate policies or conservation strategies from Washington, it supports grassroots, locally driven initiatives.”

Lake Improvement Association President Tim Lovett said the report means another tool has been added to the toolbox to help local officials heal the battered body of water.

“I’m pretty excited about this,”  Lovett told The Evening Leader. “This involves the federal government and they certainly have resources that we can use in the watershed. They have picked us and that’s even better.”

Lovett also noted news of federal assistance could resonate with potential vendors looking to help the lake.

“It brings in more potential and people who can help eradicate the problem,” Lovett said. “It also will help with the current people we have identified through Battelle and it should give them a real boost because our potential has just significantly exploded.”