Assessing, Restoring, and Protecting the Great Lakes
To help achieve the goal of restoring and protecting the waters of the Great Lakes under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), the United States and Canada agreed upon the development and implementation of five Lakewide Action and Management Plans (LAMPs). LAMPs, as described in Annex 2 of the 2012 GLWQA, are plans of action that involve assessing, protecting, and restoring the ecosystem health of each Great Lake and its watershed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) coordinates the development and implementation of the Lake Michigan LAMP efforts on a lakewide scale, working with federal, state, tribal, and other partners. IDEM coordinates Indiana’s portion, in concert with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and other state and local partners.
Lake Michigan Webinar Series
To kick-off the development of the 2020-2024 Lake Michigan Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP), IDEM and several partner organizations planned a series of nine informational webinars on a variety of topics of interest to those working on watershed protection and restoration efforts within the Lake Michigan basin.
Lake Michigan LAMP Overview Presentation
IDEM has developed an overview presentation [PDF] of the Lake Michigan LAMP Program and the State of the Lake. Hoosiers wishing to provide suggestions for how to improve the presentation are encouraged to contact IDEM.
Lakewide Management Plans (LaMPs)
The first generation Lakewide Management Plans (LaMPs) were developed every two years between 2000 and 2008, as required by the 1987 Amendment to the GLWQA. The Lake Michigan LaMPs envisioned a sustainable Lake Michigan ecosystem that ensured environmental integrity and that supported, and was supported by, economically viable, healthy human communities. In order to realize that vision, the LaMP aimed to restore and protect the integrity of the Lake Michigan ecosystem through collaborative, place-based partnerships. In other words, the Lake Michigan LaMP placed a strong focus on geographic and ecosystem goals and solutions to problems impacting the lake.
The overall Lake Michigan LaMP goal was further broken down into 12 subgoals, which were stated as questions:
- Can we eat any fish?
- Can we drink the water?
- Can we swim in the water?
- Are habitats healthy, naturally diverse, and sufficient to sustain viable biological communities?
- Does the public have access to abundant open space, shorelines, and natural areas, and does the public have enhanced opportunities for interaction with the Lake Michigan ecosystem?
- Are land use, recreation, and economic activities sustainable and supportive of a healthy ecosystem?
- Are there sediment, air, land, and water sources; or pathways of contamination that affect the integrity of the ecosystem?
- Are aquatic and terrestrial nuisance species prevented and controlled?
- Are ecosystem stewardship activities common and undertaken by public and private organizations in communities around the basin?
- Is collaborative ecosystem management the basis for decision-making in the Lake Michigan basin?
- Do we have enough information, data, understanding, and indicators to inform the decision-making process?
- What is the status of each of the 33 Lake Michigan subwatersheds?
Answering each question in the LaMP required an understanding of the history of Lake Michigan, careful monitoring of its current conditions, and the development of tools and programs to address concerns. Through a collaborative effort, LAMP project managers focused on meeting the program goals by monitoring the changing environmental conditions and adapting management strategies.
The Next Generation LAMPs
A lot has changed since the last LaMP was developed in 2008. For instance, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) has provided an average of $300 million per year for Great Lakes related projects and programs since 2010. This has led to considerable restoration work throughout the Lake Michigan Basin. Since 2010, over 120 GLRI-funded projects have been conducted in Indiana.
In order to reflect the rapid pace of Lake Michigan protection and restoration actions, the most recent 2012 GLWQA required the development of new action-oriented Lakewide Action and Management Plans (LAMPs). The Lake Michigan Partnership, a group of federal, state, tribal, and local agencies with management responsibility for the lake,is currently drafting the 2020-2024 Lake Michigan LAMP. IDEM staff are represented on both the Management Committee and the Working Group of the Partnership and help to develop the LAMP. Between full LAMP releases, U.S. EPA also coordinates the development of annual updates. These updates highlight work conducted around the lake under the program during the last year.
LAMP at Work in Indiana
A GLRI grant provides support to Indiana’s LAMP program. This LAMP Management Assistance Grant enables IDEM to work with many partners to address the LAMP goals and implement LAMP-related projects within the Lake Michigan basin. Among other programs, the Indiana LAMP program helps support:
- Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program (LMCP):
- The LMCP supports the protection and sustainable use of natural and cultural resources in the Lake Michigan region. It provides grants and technical resources to local, state, and federal agencies and organizations. It also conducts public outreach and education about topics such as septic systems and nonpoint source pollution prevention, topics critical to advancing LAMP goals.
- LAMP funds support several IDNR staff who work to coordinate nonpoint source pollution efforts with the LAMP goals. They also support natural, historic, and cultural heritage presentations given by the Indiana Dunes State Park Naturalist.
- W.G. Jackson Educational Boat Tours:
- The W.G. Jackson is a scientific research and public education vessel, based out of Muskegon, Michigan. IDEM LAMP funds regularly support the vessel’s sampling and education efforts at various Indiana ports.
- W.G. Jackson Tours are typically conducted the second week of June of each year. Please contact the IDEM Lake Michigan Basin Clean Marina Coordinator for upcoming event dates and times.
- Lake Michigan Beach Monitoring and Notification Program (Beach Program):
- The Beach Program provides funding to pay for daily water quality monitoring of coastal beaches during the recreational season.
- The Beach Program also provides public notification of water quality advisories and closures via signage and the BeachAlert application.
- LAMP funds support installation of, and public outreach regarding, best management practices (BMPs) to reduce nonpoint source pollution into Lake Michigan and reduce the frequency of beach swimming advisories and closures.
- Indiana Dunes State Park:
- LAMP funds support the development of interpretive presentations and signage on the natural history and resources of the Indiana Dunes region and Lake Michigan.
- LAMP funds support the continued development of an invasive species rapid response plan at the park.
- Indiana Watershed Management Plans:
- LAMP funds support the technical and planning assistance to local watershed groups provided by the IDNR LMCP. They also promote LAMP goals by supporting IDEM participation in the Northwest Indiana Urban Waters Federal Partnership.
- The following Watershed Management Plans in the Lake Michigan Basin have been approved by IDEM’s Nonpoint Source Grant Program and written by locally-led watershed groups.
- Indiana Clean Marina and Clean Boater Programs:
- The Clean Marina Program, a collaborative effort by IDEM; IDNR; Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant; marinas; boatyards; yacht clubs; recreational boaters; and other partners, aims to reduce potential environmental impacts associated with marinas and recreational boating.
- Designated Clean Marinas have voluntarily adopted a series of pollution prevention standards. Each Clean Marina is required to recertify membership annually and undergo an inspection by IDEM every three years.
- The Clean Boater Program focuses on growing a community of recreational boaters committed to protecting Indiana’s waterways within the Lake Michigan basin.
- LAMP funds are used to support the Clean Marina and Clean Boater Programs goals within the Lake Michigan basin.
- Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor Ship Canal Area of Concern Remedial Action Plan (RAP):
- The RAP Program, laid out in Annex 1 of the 2012 GLWQA, is a collaborative effort by IDEM; IDNR; U.S. EPA; and other federal, state, and local partners to identify and remediate environmental problems in the Area of Concern (AOC). These environmental problems have degraded the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of the waterways and connected habitats of northern Lake County, Indiana.
- The RAP Program’s goal of intensively removing 12 remaining Beneficial Use Impairments locally affecting the AOC fits within the LAMP’s more general, lakewide framework. Thus, the LAMP Program’s work to implement best management practices, reduce nonpoint source pollution reduction, combat invasive species, and support watershed management planning efforts also assist with this effort.
- Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC):
- The GLFC was established by the 1955 binational Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries. The commission coordinates fishery research, controls the invasive sea lamprey, and facilitates cooperative fishery management among the state, provincial, tribal, and federal management agencies.
- LAMP funds support Indiana’s representation on the Council of Lake Committees, Council of Great Lakes Fishery Agencies, Lake Michigan Committee, and the Lake Michigan Technical Committee of the GLFC.
Please contact IDEM for more information about the Lake Michigan LAMP Program.
With the IDEM BeachAlert app you can receive notifications of beach advisories and closures via email or text.