Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lake Erie Commission grants to boost Northeast Ohio aquatic protection

Donators with an eye toward helping Lake Erie will likely applaud the latest grant awards presented by the Sandusky-based Lake Erie Commission.

The Commission’s Lake Erie Protection Fund recently was tapped in order to help contribute to a pair of worthwhile efforts in Northeast Ohio intended to bolster watershed enhancements including one designated for a popular steelhead fishing stream.

Since its genesis about 20 years ago about $11.5 million has gone to support more than 300 local conservation and environmental protection projects.

And not one cent has come from the Ohio General Fund, either. All monies were (still are, in fact) generated through the sales of two specialty motor vehicle license plates along with direct donations. 
All of which, by the way, are not tax-deductible.

The first license plate motif depicts the Marblehead Lighthouse on Catawba Island in Lake Erie’s Western Basin. This depiction is the oldest of Ohio’s various specialty license plates, too.

Meanwhile, the second, newer of the two license plate designs features a life preserver.

Regardless of which design a motor vehicle opts to choose, the money generated from each goes to support the Commission and its grant-awarding program, says Rian Salee, the program’s grant administrator.

“Revenues from the sales of the Marblehead license plates have declined due in part to the increasing number of such plates,” Salee said. “So we came up with an alternative; an option that people can choose from.”

For every additional $25 that a Marblehead Lighthouse or life saver set of plates is sold for, $15 goes to support the Commission’s grant program. The remaining $10 is earmarked for the Bureau of Motor Vehicle’s administrative costs, Salee says as well.

“We are always looking for ways to try and enhance our outreach for the direct benefit of Lake Erie protection,” Salee said.

For the most recent grant awarding cycle the Commission presented $13,370 for stream enhancement along Euclid Creek which exits into Lake Erie at Cleveland Metroparks’ Wildwood unit. This stream is seasonally very popular and productive for steelhead anglers and the enhancement will help maintain the creek’s water quality.

Another grant is worth $35,000 and awarded to Cleveland State University. The intent here is to provide technical help to local communities as well as the making of materials and conducting of workshops to better enable landowners and public entities understand watershed environmental issues.

For further information about the Lake Erie Commission, its Lake Erie Protection Plan, and the agency’s grant-awarding program as well as its annual calendar photography contest, visit it at http://lakeerie.ohio.gov/.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.


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