On January 11, 2021, the partners comprising Sustain Our Great Lakes celebrated the receipt of $7.4 million in new grant funding for 33 projects awarded in 2020 that will restore key habitats for wildlife, improve water quality and enhance urban greenspace throughout the Great Lakes basin.
The $7.4 million in new grants announced will leverage approximately $7.6 million in additional project support from grantees, generating a total on-the-ground conservation impact of $15 million.
The program also announced its 2021 Request for Proposals, which will offer $8.5 million in grant funding, and the addition of General Mills as a key funding partner for grants supporting restorative projects in the regenerative agricultural sector.
“Sustain Our Great Lakes continues to demonstrate the unique power of public-private partnerships to drive meaningful improvements to the quality and resilience of habitats and waterways at a basin-wide scale,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which administers the program.
“Supported by our new partnership in Wisconsin and the established Sustain Our Great Lakes program, the grants awarded in 2020 represent an even greater investment in critical conservation actions that will help wildlife and human communities thrive. We look forward to continuing to grow this dynamic partnership’s impact across the region through the 2021 funding opportunity announced today,” he added.
These grants will support projects in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario to sustain, restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitat, improve water quality and enhance urban greenspace.
The projects are enhancing the quality and connectivity of streams and riparian habitat to benefit brook trout, controlling invasive species and restoring unique habitats across the basin to benefit priority species, including rusty-patched bumble bee and Blanding’s turtle, restoring wetland habitat quality and structure for migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, least bittern, and northern pike, improving nearshore health and urban greenspace through green stormwater infrastructure, and reducing sedimentation and nutrient runoff to improve water quality.
The 33 projects receiving grants in 2020 are:
- Restoring more than 35 miles of stream and riparian habitat
- Reopening 106 miles of river for fish passage
- Removing or rectifying 23 barriers to aquatic organism passage
- Controlling invasive species on 2,800 acres of wetland, upland and riparian habitat
- Restoring 2,900 acres of wetland habitat
- Preventing more than 738 tons of sediment from entering waterways annually
- Adding 6.7 million gallons of stormwater storage capacity
- Installing more than 43,000 square feet of green stormwater infrastructure
“It’s exciting to see how Sustain Our Great Lakes is helping to transform the region for the better,” said Charlie Wooley, Great Lakes regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“We are proud to support the partnership and the resulting projects that work to make the Great Lakes cleaner and safer for fish, wildlife and local residents,” he continued.
The newly-announced its 2021 Request for Proposals, will offer $8.5 million in grant funding to:
- Restore and enhance stream and riparian habitat
- Restore and enhance coastal systems
- Expand green stormwater infrastructure in Great Lakes communities
- Maintain and enhance benefits of habitat restoration through invasive species control
- Restore and preserve natural areas and biodiversity in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan watershed
The program also that announce that General Mills will be joining as a new partner in 2021. Support from General Mills, along with continued investment from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will fund projects under the new regenerative agriculture category for the upcoming 2021 grant slate.
Since 2006, Sustain Our Great Lakes has awarded 372 grants worth more than $88 million and leveraged an additional $109 million in matching contributions, generating a total conservation investment of more than $197 million.
The public-private partnership supports habitat restoration throughout the Great Lakes basin and advances the objectives of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a federal program designed to protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes ecosystem. The program receives funding and other support from ArcelorMittal, NRCS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, and NOAA.
A portion of the funding awarded in 2020 was made through a new 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.
Featured photo (courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) shows the affixing of a tracking transmitter (for research purposes) to a Blanding’s turtle by Aaron Minson, BCCD Restoration Technician.