(Saginaw, July 24, 2018)—This evening, representatives from Audubon joined local community leaders at a public meeting hosted by the US EPA to discuss the development of the next Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan, Action Plan III. Audubon urged the US EPA and its federal partners to prioritize the restoration of Great Lakes coastal wetlands that attracts and sustains breeding marsh bird populations. “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative makes the conservation work of Audubon—and many of our partners—possible and we fully support a strong Action Plan that prioritizes healthy wetlands that benefit birds and people,” said Audubon’s Director of Great Lakes Policy, Marnie Urso. “Great Lakes birds need healthy wetlands to thrive, and where birds thrive, people prosper.” The U.S. EPA is in the process of developing a plan for how it will implement the next phase of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Over the last nine years, Congress has invested more than $2.9 billion in more than 4,000 projects as part of the GLRI. The current plan, GLRI Action Plan II, prioritizes several focal areas for federal Great Lakes restoration investments: toxic hotspots, invasive species, polluted runoff from cities and excess nutrients from farms, fish and wildlife habitat, and future actions that are needed to ensure the program is run efficiently and effectively. Conservation that prioritizes restoring marsh bird habitat, addresses all of the focus areas identified by Action Plan II. In Michigan, GLRI investments have made restoration of the Detroit River, an Area of Concern, possible. Since 2013, Federal agencies and local conservation groups have been working to restore fish habitat. Also, with the Stony Island restoration project, GLRI supported restoration of almost two-thirds of a mile of shoal that included more than 50 acres of valuable coastal wetlands, which benefitted important wetland habitat for various wildlife and birds, including Common Terns, a threatened bird species in Michigan. Tonight’s meeting in Saginaw was one in a series of events scheduled throughout the Great Lakes states. The EPA will be taking public input on how to shape the next plan, known as Great Lakes Action Plan III, which will guide restoration efforts from 2020-2024. The EPA is expected to release a draft plan in mid-October or November.