Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Wetlands in CVNP
Wetlands in CVNP

©Ed Toerek

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)
The National Parks of the Great Lakes region are taking part this year in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), an unprecedented Federal investment in the health of the Great Lakes. This interagency effort will provide focused, coordinated funding to address long-standing Great Lakes ecosystem issues.

At the request of President Obama, Congress has appropriated $475 million for the GLRI in 2010; these funds are administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which in turn is providing approximately $10.5 million to the National Park Service (NPS). Funding will support 13 projects in 11 park units this year, in what is projected to be a 5-year program.

According to NPS Midwest Regional Director Ernie Quintana, “This effort is an outstanding opportunity to accomplish restoration work in our parks that would not otherwise be possible.” The GLRI is based on the 2005 “Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy,” to which a broad range of governmental and non-government groups contributed. It addresses five focus areas:

  1. Protection and cleanup of the most polluted areas in the lakes
  2. Combating invasive species
  3. Protection of high priority watersheds and reduced runoff from urban, suburban and agricultural sources
  4. Restoration of wetlands and other habitats
  5. Implementation of accountability measures, learning initiatives, outreach and strategic partnerships

In addition to the funds to be administered directly by 16 Federal agencies, a portion of the GLRI is being made available through grants; more information is available at

Great Lakes NPS Sites
The NPS administers sites on or near Lake Superior (Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Grand Portage National Monument, Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw National Historical Park and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore); Lake Michigan (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore); and Lake Erie (Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial). Most of the NPS’s GLRI projects will address ecosystem restoration in multiple park units.

CVNP GLRI Participation
Cuyahoga Valley National Park will participate in the GLRI by presenting to the public a greater emphasis on the ecosystem restoration initiatives, through increased interpretation and education, as well as continued invasive plant removal activities. Funds will be used to prepare and finalize plans to restore wetlands at the park and participate more fully in the Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan, which focuses on actions to protect and restore the Lake Erie ecosystem. “Our participation in the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will fulfill an outstanding need of communicating the importance of removing exotic species; restoring wetlands, and restoring a critical ecosystem. This initiative is not only a park issue - it is a community issue. The funding will help engage visitors and the outlying communities in exotic species management and wetland restoration,” said Paul J. Stoehr, Superintendent (Acting).

Other NPS Projects

  • Monitor contaminants such as mercury, lead, and DDT on an intensified annual schedule that will provide more data on trends and patterns of contaminant loading and bioaccumulation. (All Great Lakes parks)

  • Identify and begin restoration of areas contaminated by previous land uses, such as light stations, dumps, fuel spills, and firing ranges. (Apostle Islands NL, Pictured Rocks NL, Isle Royale NP, Indiana Dunes NL, Sleeping Bear Dunes NL)

  • Devise an effective and approved permanent ballast water treatment system for the Ranger III vessel used by Isle Royale National Park, to help prevent and/or slow the spread of invasive organisms.

  • Significantly increase activity to remove invasive species in national parks; raise public awareness of this issue and of how the public can contribute to limiting invasives. (All Great Lakes parks, as well as Mississippi River and Recreation Area, Saint Croix National Scenic River, and Voyageurs National Park)

  • Analyze engineering alternatives, including public input and environmental compliance, for the restoration of natural shoreline processes at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

  • Conduct comprehensive marine assessments in all Great Lakes parks to obtain better baseline information on aquatic habitat, water quality, and ecological conditions.

  • Implement priority recommendations from condition assessments that have been conducted over the last eight years, including spill prevention and response plans and inventory of conditions in coastal rock and inland forest pools. (Apostle Islands NL, Indiana Dunes NL, Isle Royale NP, Pictured Rocks NL)

  • Research the conditions that are causing large die-offs of fish-eating birds at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, to provide better information to manage the problem.

  • Take action to prevent further damage to rare plant and animals, such as the piping plover, caused by overabundant wildlife. (Apostle Island NL, Indiana Dunes NL, Sleeping Bear Dunes NL)

  • Restore and enhance subdunal wetlands at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, leading to re-establishment of natural processes for water purification, carbon sequestration, flood abatement, and preservation of plant and animal habitats.

  • Begin work to remove or re-design dams, docks, and similar structures that obstruct the natural water flow in streams and along coasts. This will restore habitats for fish, amphibians, and reptiles. (Isle Royale NP, Apostle Islands NL, Pictured Rocks NL, Sleeping Bear Dunes NL, Grand Portage NM) Pictured Rocks and Apostle Island National Lakeshores will initiate a program to promote natural resources stewardship concepts, energy-saving sustainable practices, and “green” tourism initiatives in communities adjacent to the parks. Increase NPS involvement in the Lakewide Management Plans for Lakes Superior, Michigan and Erie that are coordinated by the U.S. EPA.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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