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Advocates support revising but continuing Great Lakes plan

ASHLAND, Wis. — Policy experts say a federal program that has pumped $2.2 billion into cleaning up the Great Lakes needs some improvements but has served a valuable purpose and should continue.

Government officials, advocates and scientists called for extending federal funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative during a meeting this month on Madeline Island in Lake Superior. The gathering was sponsored by Northland College's Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation in Ashland, Wisconsin.

The initiative was started by the Obama administration in 2009 and has funded projects to cleanse toxic waste sites, battle invasive species, restore wildlife habitat and prevent runoff that causes harmful algal blooms.

A paper released Wednesday by the Burke Center says meeting participants agreed that more scientific monitoring is needed to make sure individual projects succeed.

It also calls for more partnerships with the private sector and Canada to make the U.S. investment go further.