As of 2014, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative had started 86 projects in Illinois totaling $75 million. The wildlife recreation industry in the state totals $3.8 billion annually, according to a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey. Wildlife watching made up the largest amount of spending on this kind of recreation in the state, totaling $1.3 billion. Anglers and hunters each spent about $1 million. Birds using the Mississippi and Great Lakes as flyway stopover habitat depend on the health of the Lakes to make their journey each year. The southern part of the state may not touch the Great Lakes, but some of the great hunting in the area each year is due to the health of the Lakes ecosystem.
Although the Great Lakes touch a small area in Illinois, a large population of people benefit from their presence. The Lakes provide drinking water for 7 million people in Illinois, and draw 20 million people to the shore and beaches each year. Strengthening the health of the Lakes has the potential to draw even more people to the lakefront on an annual basis. In total, over 350,000 jobs in Illinois are connected to the Great Lakes.