GLRI Focus Area 4: Habitat

The health of the Great Lakes depends on the health of the entire ecosystem: the Great Lakes themselves, plus coastline, wetlands, rivers, watersheds, and the flora and fauna that call these places home. Many opportunities exist to protect and restore critical ecosystem elements even as we strive to improve our understanding of emerging issues and their impacts. Toward this end, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has made habitat and species protection one of its five priorities.

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NOAA and partners completed a project to restore fast-flowing rapids on the St. Marys River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. See web story. The work has helped increase the number of juvenile fish in the area, according to a recent study published in the journal Restoration Ecology. offsite link

Responders’ Need for Accurate ESI Maps: Are We Prepared for Oil Spills at Niagara Falls and Mackinac Island?: So what would happen if there was an oil spill at Niagara Falls or Mackinac Island? This possibility is why NOAA develops Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps to prepare for potential oil spill disasters.

Habitat Restoration in the Great Lakes: By the Numbers: Check out these key numbers that help illustrate the scope of NOAA’s habitat restoration work in the region through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

GLRI Story Map offsite link: Since 2010, NOAA has worked through the GLRI to restore habitat across the Great Lakes region. NOAA projects have improved fish passage, cleaned up contaminated debris, restored coastal wetlands, and removed invasive species. Take a virtual tour of some of these major restoration projects from across the region, from the Buffalo River in New York to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Habitat Restoration in the Great Lakes: By the Numbers: Check out these key numbers that help illustrate the scope of NOAA’s habitat restoration work in the region through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Read on to learn more about NOAA’s Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration projects:

Collaborative management of emerging littoral issues in Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior

In partnership with NPS and Wisconsin state offices, NOAA is organizing a collaborative benthic mapping effort to address significant littoral management issues that have emerged in the Wisconsin waters of Lake Superior.

Environmental sensitivity data update for high spill risk areas

This project will update the Environmental Sensitivity Index maps for the Straits of Mackinac, and the St. Clair-Detroit River System. When an oil spill occurs, ESI maps help responders meet one of the main response objectives: reducing the environmental consequences of the spill and the cleanup efforts. 

Great Lakes shoreline assessment

To complement ongoing work under the nearshore framework, this project is aimed at identifying shared coastal management principles and goals (within each state and possibly across states). Projects will target nearshore habitat benefits for lake trout, walleye, lake sturgeon, yellow perch, cisco, and migratory birds and ducks.

Habitat restoration through NOAA’s Restoration Center

With the support of the GLRI, NOAA’s Restoration Center has been able to support multiple habitat restoration projects in Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs) and other targeted areas that improve fish and wildlife habitat and populations. Restoration project types include fish passage, marine debris removal, hydrologic reconnection, in-stream and nearshore habitat improvements, and invasive species removal.

Marengo River watershed: Design for reducing coastal impacts of flooding

This project will do a comparative study between the Marengo and another unimpaired watershed in the region to be used as a baseline to reflect historic, functioning conditions to be used as indicators. Potential baseline watersheds include, but are not limited to, the White River, Potato River, Cranberry River or Bark River in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.

Sustainable nearshore management solutions to prevent critical habitat loss at Illinois Beach State Park

This project lays the foundations for basin-scale sediment management planning and understanding of Lake Michigan’s nearshore physical processes.


See also: Habitat: Completed projects