The Michigan Office of the Great Lakes today announced significant progress in White Lake’s environmental recovery. Located in Muskegon County, White Lake was designated as a Great Lakes Area of Concern in 1985 due to severe environmental degradation from industrial and municipal pollution.
AOCs are defined by Beneficial Use Impairments – specific ecological problems that must be addressed to achieve recovery. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed the removal of White Lake’s Loss of Fish & Wildlife Habitat and Degradation of Fish & Wildlife Populations BUIs this week.
Restoration of these uses means that fish and wildlife habitat at White Lake has vastly improved and can support healthy populations. In large part, the restoration was made possible by a $2.1 million grant from the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, administered by the U.S. EPA. The Muskegon Conservation District coordinated the restoration of 10 public and privately owned shoreline habitat sites around White Lake, including work at city owned parks and a former municipal dump site.
“Considering the historic extent of toxic sediment contamination in White Lake, the removal of the Habitat and Populations impairments confirms that White Lake once again supports healthy natural systems,” said Michigan Office of the Great Lakes Director Jon Allan. “One clear line of evidence that obviously points to the recovery of fish populations is that White Lake successfully supported a professional fishing tournament last September. You’ve got to have a good selection of sport fish, in terms of size, species and numbers for the tournament organizers to even consider your lake.”
“Removal of these BUIs will benefit not only the people who live and work in the White Lake AOC, but all the residents of Michigan and the Great Lakes Basin as well,” wrote Chris Korleski, director of EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office, in a letter approving the BUI removals.
These are the final two BUIs to be removed from the White Lake AOC. The process to completely delist White Lake from the international registry of AOCs is underway and is expected to take a few months as various stakeholders weigh in on the process.
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