EPA seeks public's input on Great Lakes cleanup

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Federal officials are preparing for a series of public meetings to discuss President Barack Obama's Great Lakes restoration initiative.

Obama requested $475 million in his 2010 budget for the plan. Among its goals are cleaning up contaminated river bottoms, restoring wildlife habitat, preventing runoff and erosion, and preventing more exotic species invasions.

The public sessions begin Tuesday in Milwaukee. Seven others are planned in cities around the region.

The Environmental Protection Agency is hosting the meetings. In its recent "State of the Great Lakes Report," the EPA described the ecosystem's status as "mixed."

It said the invasive species problem is getting worse. On the other hand, the lakes are getting less of the toxic pollution that previously limited reproduction of birds, fish and mammals.