Illinois was welcomed into the coastal management system at last week’s ceremony, making the state eligible for approximately $2 million in annual grants to help manage its Great Lakes resources.
The creation of the Illinois Coastal Management Program comes at the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act by Congress in 1972. Illinois was the only remaining eligible state without an approved coastal zone management program in the act’s history.
The Illinois Coastal Management Program joins the National Coastal Management Program (CMP), a voluntary partnership between NOAA and 34 coastal states and territories that provide frontline management of coastal resources for sustainable development and protection of natural resources. NOAA’s CMP works with these coastal and Great Lakes states and territories to address today’s most pressing national coastal issues including climate change, ocean planning, and planning for energy facilities and development.
“A healthy economy and a healthy Lake Michigan go hand in hand. More than one and a half million jobs and $62 billion in wages are tied to the Great Lakes,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Today, NOAA and the state of Illinois celebrate a new partnership that shows state and federal government can work together in building vibrant lakeshore communities with thriving economies because we are working together to manage our Great Lakes to last.”
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn designated the state’s Department of Natural Resources as the lead state agency for developing, implementing and receiving grants for the program.
“This is an important milestone for our state as we work with our federal partners to preserve, protect, restore and enhance coastal resources for our citizens and visitors to Illinois, now and for generations to come,” said Gov. Quinn.
The Illinois coast extends along 63 miles of the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. This area is the most densely populated and highly urbanized coastal area in the Great Lakes.
“When Chicagoland residents are asked their favorite part about living in the Windy City, the overwhelming response is the Lake Michigan lakefront,” said Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois. “Lake Michigan, like all of the Great Lakes and most of the world’s great bodies of water, faces many challenges. The Illinois Coastal Management Program will give our state access to the resources it needs to address those challenges and protect this beautiful shoreline.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010, U.S. coastal watershed counties contributed $8.3 trillion to the U.S. economy. NOAA’s Coastal Management Program in its 40-year history has provided 34 coastal states and territories with over $1 billion in federal funds, and technical assistance. The federal-state partnership has resulted in the 34 state programs, preservation of more than 1.3 million acres of coastal habitat, establishment of 28 estuarine research reserves, and the creation of effective regulations and projects. This support of smart economic development has increased public access and environmental conservation as part of a coastal economy that provides half of the U.S. gross domestic product and 66 million jobs in coastal counties.
Dredging Today Staff, March 12, 2012; Image: noaanews