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Great Lakes Restoration Grant Fights Invasive Species and Unemployment

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 7:10 PM

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Lorain County is one of 11 groups getting $5 million in special Great Lakes Restoration grants to try to fight invasive species. For Ohio Public Radio, WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the project designed to fight not only environmental threats, but long-term unemployment.

For decades, steel mills largely blocked long stretches of the view and use of the Black River and Lake Erie. The economy has changed, and so has Lorain County’s vision of the river. But using it for recreation and tourism means cleaning it of, among other things, invasive weeds.

Spokesman Dan Romancak says the $500,000 grant will build on what the county has already started, beginning with recruiting long-term unemployed people.

“We provide additional training with first aid, plant identification, how to properly use the equipment that’s provided. And because of the nature of locations we’re in, it is a very difficult job and one that I do not envy. It’s very intensive going into some stands of phragmites with a weed cutter and knocking them down.”

Romancak says the cutting is just to get the perennial grass to the point where crews can move in with weed killer. He says the new money should allow the county to clear about 30 acres.

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