- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Nearly $20 million in federal grants will support wildlife and wetland restoration, invasive species control and other projects designed to restore the Clinton River and its watershed north of Detroit, officials said Monday.

The funding continues a push under the Obama administration’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to quicken the cleanup of dozens of sites around the region that were contaminated with industrial chemicals and other pollutants in the last century.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the stepped-up Clinton River activity at a news conference near a spillway in Macomb County’s Harrison Township that links the river with Lake St. Clair, where $2.5 million will be spent on invasive species removal and other upgrades.

“This is an important development for everyone who cares about the Clinton River,” said Rep. Sander Levin, a Democrat from Royal Oak. “We need to build on this work - not just in the Clinton River, but throughout the Great Lakes - by continuing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is making this progress possible.”

Funds will be divided among nine grants. Among them are $6.3 million to restore more than 32,000 linear feet and almost 90 acres of habitat in and along streams and in upland areas. An additional $4.5 million will go toward habitat improvements such as managing woody debris, stabilizing stream banks and enhancing native vegetation along a nine-mile stretch of the river.

The 80-mile-long Clinton River and its watershed were among 43 sites around the Great Lakes designated as “areas of concern” in 1987. Clinton River sediments were laced with PCBs, heavy metals and other pollutants and had high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Fish and wildlife habitat were destroyed and unsightly algae blooms marred waters.

Three areas of concern have been cleaned up and dropped from the list since the restoration initiative began in 2010. Work has been completed at three others, which await the results of environmental monitoring to determine if they’re ready for removal. Twenty-seven areas that are entirely in the U.S. or shared with Canada remain on the list, said Cameron Davis, an EPA senior adviser.

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