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Great Lakes Habitat Restoration Program
The Great Lakes are one of our most important natural resources—they are the largest freshwater system on earth, and they support agriculture, transportation, and recreation. But they also face many threats, including invasive species, oil spills and other pollution, overfishing, and habitat degradation. NOAA is working to address these issues through its Great Lakes Habitat Restoration Program, which plans, implements, and funds coastal habitat restoration projects throughout the region. The program works to protect and restore Great Lakes coastal habitats through recovery of damages from natural resource damage claims and community-based restoration efforts.
NOAA is also working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to address restoration priorities in Areas of Concern and environmentally degraded areas within the Great Lakes basin.
Great Lakes Habitat Restoration Program at a Glance
- Uses NOAA expertise to address lake-wide ecosystem problems, such as contaminants in sediment and the loss of high-quality fish and wildlife habitat.
- Builds on existing expertise and ongoing partnerships to address regional needs.
- Focuses on restoration activities that address delisting targets for habitat-related beneficial use impairments in Great Lakes Areas of Concern.
Working with Our Partners
NOAA is currently funding three coastal restoration projects in the Great Lakes through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These projects, totaling more than $16 million, are also creating jobs in a depressed economic area. Activities include creating and improving fish passage, and restoring important habitat such as freshwater wetlands and natural dune systems along the Great Lakes coast.
In 2010 and 2011, through the President’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, NOAA’s Great Lakes Habitat Restoration Program awarded $15.5 million to 17 projects throughout the region. With support from NOAA, these projects will improve fish passage, clean up marine debris, restore coastal wetlands, and remove invasive species. These projects will restore more than 1,200 acres of habitat and open more than 100 miles of river for fish passage—an important step in restoring the Great Lakes.
The NOAA Restoration Center maintains strong relationships with a number of non-profit organizations. In the Great Lakes, we are working with the Great Lakes Commission, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation. Through these partnerships, we focus on providing climate change expertise to inform restoration planning and implementation, assisting with design and engineering, conducting on-the-ground restoration work, and assisting with project evaluation to inform future restoration efforts. NOAA is also working with Sustain Our Great Lakes, a public-private partnership, to sustain, restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitat in the Great Lakes basin.