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Plate fees fund clean Lake Erie

Tom Jackson • Jun 23, 2013 at 8:00 AM

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission has unveiled a new Ohio license plate. 

Paying an extra $25 for a Lake Erie plate produces funding for the Lake Erie Protection Fund. The fund also accepts donations, but the vast majority of its money comes from license plate sales, said Gail Hesse, executive director of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission.

Lake Erie supporters have two ways to help the Lake Erie Protection Fund when they’re buying a new plate.

The new design, produced by David Browning of Browning Design in Columbus, features a life ring with the words “Lake Erie” on it. Inside the life ring are birds silhouetted against the sunset and lake waves, Hesse said.

Traditionalists can still purchase the other Lake Erie design, featuring the Marblehead Lighthouse. Ohio artist Ben Richmond came up with that design.

Many folks have license plate holders on their license plates, which cover up the top and bottom of the plate. The new design has the words “Lake Erie” in the middle of the plate, making it clear how the driver feels about Ohio’s best natural asset.

On Wednesday, the commission, meeting at NASA Plum Brook Station, awarded five grants from the Lake Erie Protection Fund.

The grants included $50,000 for a program dealing with storm water runoff in the Big Creek watershed, which is in the Cleveland area.

Four smaller grants also were awarded: $15,000 to Kent State for a study of bacteria that affects the harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie; $14,785 to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center to help create sustainable redevelopment in the inner city; $11,835 to the University of Toledo, to study how restoring an urban river affects the fish population, and $15,000 for storm water reduction in the Sandusky River in the city of Bucyrus.

The annual budget for the Lake Erie Protection Fund is $200,000.

The additional $25 that’s paid for a Lake Erie plate provides $15 for the fund and $10 for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. All of that $15 goes into the fund, with no money going to pay for the commission’s salaries or other activities, Hesse said.

All of the grants are for the protection and restoration of the lake, said Rian Sallee, grants coordinator for the agency. The grants pay for programs that help economic, environmental and human health in Lake Erie and the streams that flow into it, Sallee said.

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