48 Great Lakes projects that will restore wildlife habitat, improve water quality & enhance urban greenspace win $33.1 million

On October 26, 2022, the Sustain Our Great Lakes partnership announced $14.8 million in competitive grant funding for 48 projects that will restore key habitats for wildlife, improve water quality and enhance urban greenspace throughout the Great Lakes basin.

The grants will leverage approximately $18.3 million in additional project support from grantees, generating a total on-the-ground conservation impact of $33.1 million.

Sustain Our Great Lakes is a public–private partnership that supports habitat restoration throughout the Great Lakes basin and advances the objectives of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This is a federal program designed to protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes ecosystem, which would probably work wonderfully with the new RISING PLACES tools.

Collectively, the 48 projects receiving grants will:

  • Restore more than nine miles of stream and riparian habitat;
  • Reconnect 154 miles of river for fish passage;
  • Remove or rectify 31 barriers to aquatic organism passage;
  • Restore 2,400 acres of wetland habitat;
  • Prevent more than 645 tons of sediment from entering waterways annually;
  • Add 66 million gallons of stormwater storage capacity; and
  • Improve land management using regenerative agriculture practices on 32,000 acres of farmland.

The projects will enhance the quality and connectivity of streams and riparian habitat to benefit brook trout; control invasive species and restore unique habitats across the basin to benefit priority species, including rusty-patched bumble bee and Blanding’s turtle; restore wetland habitat quality and structure for migratory birds, waterfowl, piping plover and brook trout; improve nearshore health and urban greenspace through green stormwater infrastructure; and reduce sedimentation and nutrient runoff to improve water quality.

Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the program receives funding and other support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Cleveland-Cliffs, General Mills, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA Forest Service.

This year, the program received additional support from the Bezos Earth Fund. The grants awarded today represent the largest single grant slate ever awarded by the SOGL program, an achievement that is due to the continued, strong support of program partners and a historic investment from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Sustain Our Great Lakes is a model public-private partnership that demonstrates the strength of collaboration,” said Chris Korleski, director for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office.

We are able to leverage Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds to increase the investment in communities for on-the-ground projects that reduce stormwater runoff, restore habitat, and reduce sedimentation and nutrient runoff. Working with federal and non-governmental partners, corporate and nonprofit partners and grant recipients we are able to support projects that improve water quality across the Great Lakes basin,” he added.

A portion of the new funding was made through a Sustain Our Great Lakes partnership effort to restore and preserve natural areas and biodiversity in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan watershed. This opportunity was funded by the Caerus Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the Walder Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The grants announced today by Sustain Our Great Lakes will advance key conservation priorities and objectives of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF.

The 48 grants will restore habitat and improve water quality for the region’s globally unique habitat and natural resources and emphasize the importance of partnerships and community collaboration,” he continued.

This year’s SOGL grants will support projects in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to sustain, restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitat, improve water quality and enhance urban greenspace.

NRCS is pleased to be part of this partnership that will improve soil health while also making a difference for communities, wildlife, and water quality,” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “This public-private investment is an important piece of our work in the Great Lakes region.

These projects will benefit communities and wildlife that depend on a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “We’re excited to support this partnership and the conservation outcomes that it continues to deliver for the Great Lakes.

Since 2006, Sustain Our Great Lakes has awarded 453 grants worth more than $111 million and leveraged an additional $130 million in matching contributions, generating a total conservation investment of more than $241 million.

Photo of the Milwaukee waterfront via Pixabay.

See complete list of the new grants.

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