TRAVERSE CITY (AP) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is creating a board to advise federal agencies carrying out two wide-ranging programs to protect the Great Lakes, EPA chief Lisa Jackson said Thursday.

Jackson leads a task force with representatives of 16 federal agencies that have roles in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The new panel will make suggestions.

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The EPA will accept nominations for membership and expects to establish the board this summer. Candidates could include representatives of environmental advocacy, agriculture, academic research, state and local government, and Indian tribes.

“As we work to set a new standard of care for these waters, it’s important that we hear from experts and stakeholders who can strengthen our efforts,” Jackson said.

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The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is designed to make progress on some of the region’s most longstanding environmental problems, such as invasive species, toxic pollution, disappearing wetlands and other wildlife habitat, and runoff from farms and cities.

Congress has appropriated more than $1 billion for the initiative. President Barack Obama has requested $300 million for the next fiscal year.

The water quality agreement is a U.S.-Canadian blueprint that identifies problems needing long-term attention. The two nations are renegotiating the agreement, first signed in 1972 and amended several times since.

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