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Great Lakes Restoration


This year our Great Lakes Restoration Conference will be held in Detroit, Mich. Our new dates are May 8-9, 2019 in Detroit, Mich.! Registered attendees for the postponed October conference will be automatically registered for the new conference and registration will re-open in January 2019. We will work to minimize changes to our program as much as possible. Thank you for your patience!


LAKE SUPERIOR LEVEL – $25,000 or more

LAKE MICHIGAN LEVEL – $10,000 to $24,999

LAKE HURON LEVEL – $5,000 to $9,999

LAKE ONTARIO LEVEL – $2,500 to $4,999

LAKE ERIE LEVEL – $1,000 to $2,499

DETROIT RIVER LEVEL – $500 to $999

BELLE ISLE LEVEL – $300 to $499

Dave Ullrich

*schedule subject to change*

7:00 a.m. – Registration opens, Breakfast

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. – Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. – Breakout Sessions

Legal and Legislative Status for Water Affordability
This session will address the hurdles and the opportunities related to legal and legislation on water affordability.

Moderator: Hilliard Hampton, Freshwater Future
Oday Salim, Staff Attorney, National Wildlife Federation and Director, University of Michigan Law School Environmental Law & Sustainability Clinic (invited)
Mark Fancher, ACLU of Michigan (invited)
Thomas Stevens, Legislative Policy Division, City of Detroit (invited)


Let’s All Get on the Same Page – definitions, terminology, meanings, understandings and perceptions of Environmental DEI/J
How do you define equity? What does it mean to be inclusive? People come to this work from different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. As stakeholders and decision makers explore and address DEIJ issues, we need to all operate from the same playbook. This workshop will help unlock the language and terminology in the world of DEI.

Carla Walker, President, think BIG strategies, LLC.
Two additional facilitators TBD


From Rust to Blue Economy: Inland Seas of Opportunities and Challenges
As the region rebrands itself from the Rust Belt to the Water Belt, how will it attract new businesses without compromising the health of the water, which is the very asset that attracts businesses in the first place? Join policy and business leaders from the region to discuss this emerging tension in the Great Lakes basin.

Moderator: Andy Hoffman, Ross School of Business; School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan
Joel Brammeier, President and CEO, Alliance for the Great Lakes
Kathryn Buckner, President, Council of Great Lakes Industries – Invited
Industry Representative – Invited


Protecting the Great Lakes and Public Health from Toxic PAHs
Advocates from Michigan and Wisconsin bring a compelling story of Great Lakes protection and restoration in the form of their successful local policy-making efforts targeting toxic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) from certain pavement sealant products entering Great Lakes waters with urban stormwater runoff.

Rebecca Esselman, Watershed Planner, Huron River Watershed Council
Ezra Meyer, Water Resources Specialist, Clean Wisconsin


GLRI Large Scale Restoration of Detroit River’s South Islands
Over the past two centuries, the Detroit River has experienced degradation of fish and wildlife habitat. With implementation of the lower Detroit River Island Habitat Restoration Projects, significant strides are underway to restore important coastal habitat. This workshop presents the river’s historical degradation, project development, adaptive solutions, and community engagement.

Moderator: Sam Lovall, Project Manager, Friends of Detroit River
Bob Burns, Technical Manager Friends of Detroit River
John O’Meara, Principal Engineer Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.
Andrew McDowell, Associate Landscape Architect, SmithGroupJJR

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch and Speaker

Water Affordability Panel

1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. – Breakout Sessions

Great Lakes Business Network: Line Five and Beyond
Learn more about the Great Lakes Business Network and the work that’s been done around the Enbridge’s Line 5—the oil pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac.

Beth Wallace, Great Lakes Partnerships Manager, National Wildlife Federation
Business Network members (TBD)

The Great Lakes Clean Water Infrastructure Promise
Clean water infrastructure is a core governmental service vital to health and economies. Despite the abundance of Great Lakes fresh water, states throughout the basin struggle to maintain their water infrastructure while keeping costs in check. Leaders from nonprofits talk about how states are delivering on the clean water promise.

Steve Morse, Executive Director, Minnesota Environmental Partnership
Katie Rousseau, Director, Clean Water Supply, Great Lakes, American Rivers


Actionable Strategies for Proactive, Inclusive Community Engagement
Systems thinking, scientific method and rapid prototyping: a new tool kit promises impact for overcoming our most intractable challenges. This workshop provides capacity building support for organizations to enable them to be more targeted, effective and successful as they engage in their mission based work.

Eve Pytel, Director, Delta Institute
Bill Schleizer, CEO, Delta Institute


A watershed approach in the Lower Fox River
If you were a point source, would you work with farmers? Yes, it’s complicated. If you find answering that question difficult or interesting, then come explore the watershed approaches that are part of Wisconsin law. Warning! You will use our tools and some role-play so this could be fun!

Todd Brennan, Senior Policy Manager, Alliance for the Great Lakes
Ryan Smith, Land Stewardship Lead, Delta Institute
Olga Lyandres, Land Stewardship Senior Specialist, Delta Institute


Reaching beyond the choir: How to influence behavior
Changing behavior is hard. Unfortunately it is not as simple as relaying data and facts. Good news is there are simple tactics you can use to reach beyond innovators and “the choir.” This workshop will present strategies based on real world examples and how to relate them to your work.

Jessica Espenshade, Agriculture Program Coordinator, National Wildlife Federation
Elizabeth Lillard, Agriculture Program Specialist, National Wildlife Federation

2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Field Trips (offsite)

Belle Isle Habitat Restoration Projects
Price: $10.00
Hosted by Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Learn about habitat enhancements at the 125-year-old Belle Isle Park: reconnection of 65 acres of lake habitat to the Detroit River, 5 acres of Detroit River spawning reef targeted for 17+ fish species, 5 acres of new fish nursery in the nearshore, and restoration of the globally-significant 200-acre flatwoods forest. Participants should wear hiking shoes and dress for the weather. The hike will avoid wet parts of the island and stick to existing paths and trails.


Collaborative Community Open Space and Green Infrastructure on Detroit’s Eastside
Price: $10.00
Hosted by Eastside Community Network
Eastside Community Network is committed to working with communities to alleviate localized flooding and regional stormwater overflow. Through robust engagement and the use of a 3D visualization tool, residents and businesses have played active roles in the development of stormwater management applications/designs for the open spaces around them.


Roll in Detroit: A Bike Tour of the River, Murals, & the Nation’s Oldest Public Market
Price: $10.00
Hosted by Eastern Market Corporation
Put your best wheel forward and enjoy a bike ride of Detroit. Ride along the Riverwalk to see the Detroit River, one of the fastest moving bodies of water in the country that empties the water from the upper Great Lakes to the lower Lakes. From rail to trail, explore the two-mile greenway that connects the Riverwalk to Eastern Market, the nation’s oldest and largest public market. At the market, learn about planning efforts for a centralized stormwater management system and see dozens of murals that grace the area’s buildings. Participants should expect a 15 minute walk to/from the start/finish of the tour. The tour will include a 2 mile bike ride and walking.


The Detroit Riverfront – Transformation of an industrial waterfront into a globally-recognized public waterfront destination
Price: $10.00
Hosted by Smith Group JJR
Covering 4 miles of the Detroit Riverfront, we will explore the transformation of a once industrial working riverfront, now a public amenity that boasts play spaces for children; interpretive and educational elements depicting how urban stormwater is treated; and the creation of urban habitat and wetland systems. Attendees should expect a 15 minute walk to/from the start/finish of the tour and a 4 mile walk along the riverfront.


The Unaffordable Water Tour
Price: $10.00
Hosted by We the People of Detroit
On the Unaffordable Water Tour, we invite you to participate in a ‘bucket brigade’ to stock and distribute water with grassroots organizers. We’ll visit the community water relief station at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and hear from activists with We the People of Detroit and Flint Rising about the landscape of rising, inequitable water rates in both cities and the consequences for families and communities. Participants will then travel to the North End (to meet at the One Mile or Oakland Avenue Urban Farm) to learn more about the social and medical consequences of unaffordable water.


Wetland, Green Infrastructure and Aquatic Molecular Science Laboratory Tour
Price: $10.00
Hosted by Health Urban Waters Program, Wayne State University
Join us to visit a variety of features relating to aquatic science, Great Lakes marsh restoration and green infrastructure at Lake St. Clair Metropark, which boasts one of the largest remaining natural coastal wetlands along the Huron-to-Erie corridor, supported by a partnership of academia, parks, government, and civil service organizations. Attendees should expect lengthy walking on uneven trails that could be muddy.


City of Flint: Recovery Progress
Price: $10.00
Hosted by the Flint Development Center
The Flint Water Crisis revealed drinking water problems, breakdowns in government systems, and systemic racism that are present in many Great Lakes urban centers. This tour will provide a brief history of the crisis with a focus on highlighting recovery progress by visiting City Hall, neighborhoods, Community Center, and Flint River. Please note: This field trip leaves from the hotel at 1:30 p.m. Attendees of this field trip will not be able to attend any afternoon workshops on Wednesday.


Islands of Restoration in the Lower Detroit River
Price: $45.00
Hosted by Michigan Sea Grant
Over the past centuries the Detroit River has experienced degradation of habitat. However, significant strides to restore important coastal habitat have been made due to the islands restoration. This on-river experience will tour the completed Stony Island, work in progress at Celeron Island, and discuss the planning of Sugar Island. This is a 2 1/2 hour boat ride. There is a $45 fee associated with this field trip to help offset the cost of the boat rental. Please note: This field trip leaves from the hotel at 1:30 p.m. Attendees of this field trip will not be able to attend any afternoon workshops on Wednesday.


Kayak Tour of the Lower Rouge Industrial stretch of the Lower Rouge River Water Trail
Price: $45.00
Hosted by Friends of the Rouge
Come experience a guided tour of the Lower Rouge Industrial stretch in the Rouge River by kayak. Trip will feature information industrial/environmental history, highlights from projects happening at Forman Park, Fort Street Bridge Park/Fordson Island and the EPA- Honeywell lower Rouge River Sediment Remediation Project to name a few. You must have kayak experience to attend this trip. $45 fee includes kayak rental, paddle and personal floatation device. Please note: This field trip leaves from the hotel at 1:30 p.m. Attendees of this field trip will not be able to attend any afternoon workshops on Wednesday.

6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Evening Reception at the Ford Piquette Plant

*Schedule subject to change*

7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. – Breakfast


8:20 a.m. – 8:35 a.m. – Welcome

Short welcome

8:45 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. – Breakout Sessions

Collective Infrastructure:  Using decentralized systems and community to create more sustainable infrastructure
What is community-scale infrastructure? Learn about innovative approaches to develop decentralized infrastructure that strengthens community ties and builds resilience.

Bob Zimmerman, Charles River Watershed (not confirmed)
Jackson Koeppel, Soulardarity (not confirmed)
Rev. Joan Ross, Northend Woodward Community Coalition (not confirmed)
Jenny Lee, Allied Media (not confirmed)


Expanding Coverage of Great Lakes Issues for General Audiences
Looking for more coverage of Great Lakes issues? Need content to help engage your audiences? Public media has launched two journalism initiatives in the Great Lakes to improve coverage and reach more audiences. See some recent work, and share your opinions on what is needed with the editorial leadership of these important public initiatives.

Mary Ellen Geist, Great Lakes Bureau Chief, GreatLakesNow.org, Detroit Public Television
Ed Moore, Director of Content, Detroit Public Television


Huron Pines and the Healthy Watersheds Consortium: Connecting Land and People for Conservation Success
Huron Pines recently received funding from the national Healthy Watersheds Consortium grant program to increase capacity for watershed protection in the Great Lakes. This workshop shares information on the Healthy Watersheds Consortium program and Huron Pines’ strategies for putting our communities in the driver’s seat for long-term natural resource protection.

Abigail Ertel, Community Program Lead, Huron Pines
At least one other organizational partner, such as the U.S Endowment for Forestry or Community members


“Pools are for fun not for closing:” Addressing a history of inequity and segregation around swimming in Milwaukee
Wisconsin Sea Grant and Milwaukee Water Commons have partnered to ensure that every child and adult in Milwaukee has safe and meaningful experiences with water. To date, we have mapped swimming pool deserts in Milwaukee and employ experiential learning activities. We’ll discuss projects, challenges, and successes in reaching our goal.

Deidre Peroff, Social Science Outreach Specialist, Wisconsin Sea Grant
Brenda Coley, Co-Executive Director, Milwaukee Water Commons


Intersecting community engagement with social, economic and ecological revitalization of Michigan’s 14 Areas of Concern.
The Michigan Office of the Great Lakes is partnering with the University of Michigan to explore the effectiveness of local Public Advisory Councils assisting with delisting of AOCs and with subsequent social, economic, and ecological revitalization within neighboring communities. Two master’s projects are currently underway: one a retrospective analysis of lessons learned across the AOCs; and the second focused on dynamics at the point of delisting and beyond.

Moderator: Rick Hobrla, Engineer Manager, Michigan Office of the Great Lakes
Dr. Paul Seelbach, Professor of Practice, University of Michigan
Allison Voglesong-Zejnati, Master’s Thesis Student, University of Michigan
Collin Knauss, Master’s Project Student, University of Michigan

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – Lightning Sessions: 15 minute breakouts

The Lake Erie Track: An update on Lake Erie HABs
Harmful algal blooms have become an almost annual event on Lake Erie in the summer. Join us for the latest update on the blooms and what’s being done to prevent them.

Speakers TBD


The Lake Erie Track: Healing Our Waters with Innovation and Data
Learn how the grassroots activation surrounding Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie inspired the “Smart Lake,” a new breed of smart and connected infrastructure that enables intelligent community water management.

Bryan Stubbs, Executive Director, Cleveland Water Alliance


The Lake Erie Track: The Great Lakes Dredged Material Center for Innovation at the Riverside Confined Disposal Facility in Toledo, Ohio
The first of its kind in the Great Lakes, the Dredged Material Center for Innovation in Toledo, Ohio is a critical step toward eliminating open lake placement of dredged sediment through beneficial uses such as agricultural improvements. This workshop will provide a dynamic, visual overview of the project and lessons learned.

Fernando Camargo, P.E., Project Manager, Hull & Associates, Inc.


The Toxics & Invaders Track: An update on PFAS in the Great Lakes
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have been found in groundwater throughout the Great Lakes. Join us for an update on this toxin in drinking water.

Speakers TBD


The Toxics & Invaders Track: The Recycling Enigma
Recycling is essential to create a circular economy where used products are the main way to obtain materials to create new products. However products that we create out of recycled materials may unintentionally be contaminated with toxics such as flame retardants. How do we break out of this toxic recycling enigma?

John Jackson, Co-Chair, Toxics Free Great Lakes Network


The Toxics & Invaders Track: The Great Lakes New Zealand Mud Snail Collaborative
The New Zealand mud snail is rapidly expanding its range throughout the Great Lakes Region. The impact mud snails may have on native communities are currently unknown. Learn how a regional collaborative is seeking to improve knowledge on potential impacts, minimize spread, better inform management activities, and raise public awareness.

Nichol DeMol, Great Lakes Habitat Program Manager, Trout Unlimited


The Great Lakes Innovation Track: Biomimicry for Social Innovation
Biomimicry for social innovation presents Nature as Mentor, Model and Teacher anchored on Life’s 3.8 billion years of experience. Explore how you can tap into this rich source to improve your personal and organizational skills, training opportunities and development. Your growth will benefit your work and passion for the Great Lakes!

Gloria Rivera, Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit Coordinator


The Great Lakes Innovation Track: Water’s Law—What Would It Mean for Lakes & Streams To Have Their Own Legal Rights?
Instead of suing to protect your stream, what if your stream could sue to protect itself? In the last decade there have been numerous examples of courts and legislatures conferring legal rights to natural resources. This workshop explores the possibility of doing that in the Great Lakes region.

Oday Salim, Staff Attorney, National Wildlife Federation and Director, University of Michigan Law School Environmental Law & Sustainability Clinic


The Great Lakes Innovation Track: Mapping Water Access with 360° Imagery
Southeast Michigan Council of Governments led a recent effort to map more than 400 miles of navigable waterways in Southeast Michigan with 360 degree imagery. The resulting data documents accessibility to the water in photographic detail, allowing users to better understand the opportunities and limitations for water recreation, tourism, and place-making in Southeast Michigan.

Tyler Klifman, Planner, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Breakout Sessions

What Is A Community To Do? Developing An Action Plan To Measure & Ensure Compliance With The Lead & Copper Rule
Lead in drinking water can present a significant public health risk.  The Lead and Copper Rule is complex, and the relationship between compliance and health protection is confusing. This workshop will explain the Rule, the risks of lead in water, and strategies to ensure water utilities comply with the Rule.

Elin Betanzo, P.E. Principal Safe Water Engineering, LLC


Demonstrating Green Stormwater Infrastructure with Art, Science, and Community Values
Detroit’s Museum of African American History and Science Center are building a GSI demonstration site that integrates science education, African American culture, and stormwater management. In this panel, we will explore how this single practice is creating triple bottom line benefits for many stakeholders, from grassroots organizations to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Dr. Gloria House, Detroit Independent Freedom Schools Movement
Leslie Tom, Chief Sustainability Officer, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Lisa Wallick: Manager, Stormwater Management Group, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department


Training: Analyze Power, Build Power, Use Power
What change do you want and who has the power to create that change? Attend this mini-training and learn about a useful tool and process that can help you achieve that change.

Speakers TBD


The Risks of Net-Pen Aquaculture in the Great Lakes
Our Great Lakes are currently threatened by commercial net-pen fish farming facilities (aquaculture). Hear directly from experts about the adverse impacts of aquaculture, first-hand accounts of current activities in the Great Lakes, as well as legislative and administrative actions at the state and federal level in protecting the Great Lakes and in-land waters from aquaculture.

Marc Smith, Director of Conservation Partnerships, National Wildlife Federation
Taylor Ridderbusch, Great Lakes Organizer, Trout Unlimited
Dan Eichinger, Executive Director, Michigan United Conservation Clubs


Great Lakes Green Infrastructure Champions: using mentoring to build capacity
The Great Lakes Green Infrastructure Champions Mentoring Network paired emerging green infrastructure champions with pioneers in green infrastructure. This workshop will discuss how the mentoring network helped communities build capacity to advance green infrastructure, featuring a mentor and a mentee, and describe opportunities for future engagement.

Victoria Pebbles, Program Director, Great Lakes Commission
Elaine Sterrett Isely, Director of Water Programs, West Michigan Environmental Action Council
Michael Kuss, General Manager, Michigan City Sanitary District

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Lunch and plenary

Lunch program

2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m – Breakout Sessions

Building a Water Resilient Great Lakes City
Detroit could be a leader in implementing innovative, multifunctional greenways. A coordinated effort between government and community could ensure that greenways, and other multimodal corridors, are designed to serve multiple functions and benefit surrounding neighborhoods. Come learn about our work to discover how to achieve this through integrative stormwater management.

Khalil Ligon, Senior Planner, City of Detroit Planning & Development Department
Todd Scott, Executive Director, Detroit Greenways Coalition
Oday Salim, Staff Attorney, National Wildlife Federation and Director, University of Michigan Law School Environmental Law & Sustainability Clinic


Mobilizing, Equipping and Building Capacity in Frontline Communities to create Water Warriors and achieve Water Liberation
Conference program if your workshop is selected.  It will also summarize the accomplishments of water warriors.  This workshop is designed to showcase different water injustices by connecting the issues and impacts to build capacity, resiliency and resistance toward Water Liberation.

Marnese Jackson, Environmental & Climate Justice Regional Organizer, NAACP
Jerome Reide, Midwest Regional Director, NAACP
Tavian Moore, Greater Grand Rapids Youth and College Environmental and Climate Justice Chairperson, NAACP
Aryale Cannon, Greater Grand Rapids Youth and College Environmental and Climate Justice Co-Chairperson, NAACP


Creation of a Great Lakes Bi-National Climate Adaptation Strategy
This workshop will explore how, based on the general duty to cooperate as a customary principle of international water law, and based on their commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada and the U.S. should create a comprehensive binational strategy for climate adaptation in the Great Lakes Basin, with special attention to the climate impacts to Great Lakes Indigenous communities.

Nick Schroeck, Associate Professor, University of Detroit Mercy Law School
Patrícia Galvão Ferreira, Law Foundation of Ontario Scholar, University of Windsor
Jane Elder, Executive Director of Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
Tribal Law speaker


Lake Erie Coastal Wetland Restoration: Howard Marsh Case Study
Howard Marsh Metropark – a conversion of 750 acres of farmland into coastal wetlands – opened to the public in April 2018 and provides significant regional environmental benefits returning a lost asset back to Lake Erie through reduction in phosphorous loading in runoff and creation of critical fish and wildlife habitat.

Tim Schetter, PhD, Director of Natural Resources, Metroparks Toledo
Emily McKinnon, PE, Principal Civil Engineer, SmithGroupJJR
Denis Franklin, Natural Resources Supervisor, Metroparks Toledo

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Breakout Sessions

Great Lakes Drinking Water Guide: An Advocacy and Outreach Resource for Watershed and Community Groups
We need to engage more deeply on drinking water issues. River Network, its partners and advisory group, has developed a layperson-drinking water guide that includes components on treatment, safety, funding, equity, community engagement and policy. This session will introduce the guide, explain how to use locally and seek further input.

Moderator: Paco Ollervides, Great Lakes Leadership Development Manager, River Network
Jumana Vasi, Consultant
Oday Salim, Staff Attorney, National Wildlife Federation and Director, University of Michigan Law School Environmental Law & Sustainability Clinic
Katherine Baer, Director of Science and Policy, River Network


Restoring the Grand Rapids – Two Guys, a Dream and a Microbrew
A dream that started with two kayaking buddies over a microbrew in downtown Grand Rapids: “But where are the rapids?” Learn how they have grown into a powerful and motivating non-profit called Whitewater, dedicated to revitalizing the Grand River and putting the namesake rapids back in the Grand for everyone’s enjoyment.

Matt Chapman, Project Coordinator, Grand Rapids Whitewater
Wendy Ogilvie, Director of Environmental Programs, Grand Valley Metro Council
Tonya Lewandowski, Senior Engineer, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.


The Economic Impact of Protecting and Restoring the Great Lakes: A Quantitative Economic Analysis of GLRI Investments
Much is known about GLRI’s environmental impacts, but less information is available about the program’s economic impacts. This session highlights the results of a study that answers a critically important question in the Great Lakes region: how has the U.S. federal government’s investments under GLRI impacted the Great Lakes economy?

Moderator: Mike Shriberg, National Wildlife Federation
Kathryn Buckner, Council of Great Lakes Industries
Heather Braun, Great Lakes Commission
Gabriel Ehrlich, PhD, Research Seminar on Quantitative Economics, University of Michigan
Nina Ignaczak, Issue Media Group


Engaging End Users in Collaborative Research: Experiences from the western Lake Erie basin
Since its inception in 2012, the University of Michigan Water Center has worked to bridge research and practice by bringing researchers and end-users together to address common challenges on the Great Lakes. This session will provide multiple perspectives on the benefits of collaborative research for the policy and research communities, reflecting on the impacts realized through work in the western Basin of Lake Erie.

Moderator: Jennifer Read, University of Michigan Water Center
Melissa Damaschke, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
Margaret Kalcic, the Ohio State University
Gail Hesse, National Wildlife Federation (invited)

4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Conference Closing