Restoration Success Stories

Federal investments to restore the Great Lakes are producing results for communities around the region in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition will be chronicling successful projects that protect drinking water, keep beaches open, create jobs and uphold the quality of life for the millions of people who call the region home.

Check out our success story slide shows by state. See all success stories from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, or region wide stories. To read more about a story, just click on the picture.

Check out restoration success story videos, some produced by the coalition and other groups, including the Joyce Foundation.

You can also view the success stories we’ve collected for our conferences—2011 in Detroit, 2012 in Cleveland, and 2013 in Milwaukee.

Success Stories

Click on the project title below to learn more about each restoration success story. The success stories are sorted by state–find your state’s success stories here: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. We have a few regional success stories, as well.


Naturalized Shoreline near Duluth Helps Fish, Wildlife, Recreation
Restored shoreline reduces flooding in Chambers Grove Park and provides an increased opportunity for recreation.

Knife River Restoration Repairs Stream Banks, Reduces Sediment Load
Erosive stream banks on the Knife River were restored by reducing the stress from water flowing into the bank, decreasing sedimentation in the Knife River.

Duluth Stream Corps Restores Shorelines, Reduces Erosion
Duluth landowners volunteered to provide access to their streamside property for restoration and naturalization projects, resulting in 22 miles of restored stream shores and improved water and habitat quality.

Northern Minnesota River has Stronger Riverbanks, Less Erosion
Installing fallen trees, re-establishing flood plains, and planting new trees along Minnesota’s Flute Reed River helped stabilize the river, reduce sedimentation, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife.

Removing wood waste will restore fish habitat in St. Louis River estuary
A $2.4 million cleanup will remove more than 40,000 tons of wood waste that sawmills discarded in the St. Louis River estuary a century ago.

Costly cleanup brings Minnesota waterway back to life
A $62 million cleanup in Duluth Harbor made the heavily polluted Stryker Bay safe for fish, wildlife and humans.

Minnesota scientists working to save moose herd
Researchers have restored 1,000 acres of moose habitat in northeastern Minnesota, and are taking other management activities, in an effort to help the animals survive climate change.

Project transforms wasteland into natural wonder
A wetland restoration project in Duluth-Superior harbor turned an industrial wasteland into one of the region’s best birding sites.


Controlling Invasive Species in Winegar Pond
Blocking the entry of common carp and removing invasive plants has restored Winegar Pond’s natural ecology, improved wildlife habitat, and enhanced outdoor recreation.

Restored Wisconsin River Provides Home for Wildlife, Reduces Flooding
Restoring the natural curves and riverbank of the Pike River in Wisconsin has reduced flooding and erosion, while increasing fish and wildlife habitat.

Removing Invasive Plants Limits Their Spread Through Wisconsin
Invasive plant species are being removed to preserve the natural condition of southeast Wisconsin’s ecosystems.

National park kills deer to preserve native vegetation
Sharpshooters have killed nearly 200 excess deer at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to preserve rare stands of Canada yew, a native shrub that was once common in the Great Lakes region.

Project protects critical bird habitat
A land purchase in northern Wisconsin increased public access to the Lake Michigan shoreline and protected valuable bird habitat.

Dredging toxic sediment completes cleanup of Sheboygan River
A $62 million dredging project removed 50,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the lower Sheboygan River in Wisconsin. The project was the final phase of a long effort to clean up the river and get it removed from a list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

First tribal national park in U.S. opens on Lake Superior
An 88-acre parcel of land along the Lake Superior coast in northern Wisconsin was recently dedicated as the first tribal national park in the United States. Frog Bay Tribal National Park opened in August 2012. It features a globally significant forest and is adjacent to Frog Bay and the Frog Creek estuary, The park is owned by the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa but is open to the public.

GLRI grant helps save rare gorge along Lake Superior
The Town of Bayfield, Wis., joined forces with two land conservancies and federal agencies to preserve 77 acres of ecologically significant land known as Houghton Falls, which includes 2,200 feet of shoreline along Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay.

Dam removal opens 25 miles of Milwaukee River to fish
The removal of the Millpond Dam in Campbellsport, Wis., gave fish and other aquatic life access to the uppermost 25 miles of the Milwaukee River.

Huge source of PCBs removed from Milwaukee River
The dredging of 140,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Milwaukee’s Lincoln Creek and the Milwaukee River channel removed the largest source of PCBs in the river system.

Project turns pollution site into natural playground
A habitat restoration project in the headwaters of Lake Superior is transforming a Great Lakes Area of Concern into a haven for fish, wildlife and outdoors enthusiasts.

Small project creates big benefits for Wisconsin creek
A low-budget fish passage project will reap large dividends for a Wisconsin trout stream. Though it cost less than $15,000, the project gave fish access to two miles of invaluable spawning habitat in Troutmere Creek, a tributary of the Marengo River.

Green Infrastructure Resurrects Polluted Beach 
A coalition of more than 20 government agencies, businesses, and community groups developed and implemented a $705,500 plan for reducing bacterial pollution at Bradford Beach, a Lake Michigan beach on Milwaukee’s north side.

Dredging Cleans Up a River, Revitalizes Neighborhood  
State and federal agencies joined forces to complete a $22 million cleanup project that resulted in the removal of 167,000 cubic yards of toxic mud from the bottom of the Kinnickinnic River, on Milwaukee’s south side.

Floating Islands Provide Habitat in Industrialized Sections of the Milwaukee River 
Floating islands along the industrialized corridor of the Milwaukee River have provided fish, such as smallmouth bass and green-eared sunfish, habitat and a way to navigate upstream.

Forest Beach Migratory Preserve: A Flyway Replaces the Fairway 
Turning a 116-acre golf course into a nature preserve has allowed migratory birds a place to shelter along the coast of Lake Michigan.

Streamside Rearing Facility helps Restore Lake Sturgeon 
The lake sturgeon may be able to return to the Great Lakes in greater numbers thanks to this sturgeon rearing facility that has introduced more than 7,400 of the native fish back to the Lakes.

Campus Stormwater Discharge Reduced Due to Green Landscaping 
The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee has installed green rooftops, bioswales, and other natural landscaping projects that have lead to a dramatic decrease in the water the campus discharges into the Milwaukee sewer system.

Neighborhood Revitalization: A Community Effort Cleans Up the Kinnickinnic 
Restoring Milwaukee’s Kinnickinnic River is helping to reduce flooding risks, improve public safety, provide a home for fish and wildlife, and bring families back to their neighborhood river.

Large Woody Debris Restores the Whittlesey Creek 
Placing logs and other large woody debris in Whittlesey Creek in Wisconsin has restored a natural flow to the river and provided habitat for fish and wildlife.

Hank Aaron Trail Hits a Home Run: Restoring the Menomonee River Valley 
Once a railroad yard for the Milwaukee Road, the land adjacent to the Menonmonee River in Milwaukee has been restored to a more natural state, allowing wildlife to return and providing the public with outdoor recreational opportunities.

A High School Wetland Wastewater Treatment Facility Helps Protect the Great Lakes 
The Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School replaced an old septic tank with an engineered wetland to filter their wastewater, thereby removing excess nutrients from the water supply and creating a habitat for local wildlife.

Cat Island Restoration Project Restores Native Fish Populations 
A former barrier island chain off the coast of Green Bay is being rebuilt to protect wetlands and habitat, allowing native fish like bluegill and largemouth bass to return.

Removing Culverts, Dams, and Obstacles Restores Fish Passage to the Milwaukee River 
Removing dams, culverts, and other obstructions along the upper Milwaukee River has reconnected more than 100 miles of streams, allowing native fish like northern pike to return to parts of the river they had been cut off from.

Farmer’s Fields Transformed to Help Wildlife and Water Retention 
Restoring habitat on the site of former Wisconsin farmland has helped reduce runoff, created a home for wildlife and created outdoor recreation for people in the community.

Project Helps Reduce Runoff on a Dairy Farm 
Runoff from dairy farms with high nutrient levels can cause algal blooms, but the Brickstead Dairy is working to reduce the amount of nutrients that enter surface water to protect water quality.

A City Reconnects to its River 
Stabilizing the river banks, removing invasive species, installing rain gardens and adding a park along the Root River has improved the health of the river, while providing public access.

A Brewery Complex Renewed with Blue Ribbon Management Practices 
The former Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery is being turned into a sustainable neighborhood that follows best stormwater management practices and is now able to absorb 75 percent of the stormwater that falls on the site, in the process preventing 85 percent of the pollutants in the stormwater from reaching the city’s drains.

Controlling Phosphorous Run-off: A Pilot Project Experiments with Monitoring and Management 
New grazing and monitoring programs for the Oneida tribe buffalo herd are helping reduce excessive fertilizer and manure runoff from entering the Fox River.


Replanting Trees Following Emerald Ash Borer Infestation Reduces Stormwater Runoff, Improves Lake Michigan Water Quality
Fifty trees planted along roads to partially replace the ash trees lost following an emerald ash borer infestation are decreasing runoff into Lake Michigan.

Burnham Wildlife Corridor established along Lake Shore Drive
Migratory birds and butterflies have a safe place to stop over, thanks to the Burnham Wildlife Corridor. Invasive species have been removed and volunteers have planted thousands of native trees and shrubs in their place.

Chicago’s Northerly Island Brings Nature to Windy City
Funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is restoring a native prairie and marsh ecosystem to Chicago’s Northerly Island in Lake Michigan to provide habitat to native fish and wildlife, and an outdoor recreation space in the city for people.

North Point Marina Beach Safe for Swimming Once More
Open expanses of sand attracted many gulls to the North Point Marina beach polluting the water. By restoring native plants to Lake Michigan beach and the dune habitat, gulls stopped frequenting the beach and water quality has been restored, allowing a popular beach to remain open most of the season.

Chiwaukee Restoration Removes Invasive Species
Removing invasive species all along Lake Michigan’s shoreline near Chicago has helped native species return. A stronger habitat with native species will help slow and filter water before it enters Lake Michigan.

Calumet Conservation Corps Removes Invasive Species
Removing invasive species throughout many Chicago parks has helped native species return. A stronger habitat with native species will help slow and filter water before it enters Lake Michigan and provide an enjoyable space for the public.

Lake Michigan Ravine Health and Education Program
Groups in Northeastern Illinois are focused on restoring ravine habitat by working with private landowners to reintroduce native plants, which will help decrease sediment build-up in Lake Michigan. 

Dead Dog Creek Restoration
Eroded stream banks are being restored to reduce nutrients and sediments in Lake Michigan.

Curbing erosion in ravine reduces pollution in Lake Michigan
A project that stabilized eroding stream banks in the Lake Bluff Ravine, about 35 miles north of Chicago, will reduce the amount of sediment washing into Lake Michigan by 302 tons annually.

More natural Chicago beach attracts wildlife
Restoring 21 acres of sand dunes and aquatic habitat at Chicago’s 63rd Street Beach transformed a barren stretch of coastline into a more natural landscape that is popular with beach-goers and migratory birds.

Waukegan Harbor on the road to recovery 
A $48 million cleanup is removing 175,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Waukegan Harbor, located just north of Chicago on Lake Michigan.


Great Marsh Restoration Reduces Basement Flooding, Improves Wildlife Habitat
Removing a ditch system and invasive plants around Indiana’s Great Marsh has improved Lake Michigan’s water quality, improved wildlife habitat, and reduced flooding in people’s basements.

Naturalizing a stormwater retention basin improves water quality, enhances wildlife habitat
The Thorgren Basin was retrofitted to remove sediments and pollutants from stormwater and to provide wildlife habitat.

Important marsh restored in Grand Calumet River

A $52 million project removed 252,000 cubic yards of toxic mud from the Grand Calumet River and restored the 25-acre Roxana Marsh, which provides critical habitat for birds, fish and other aquatic life.

After 80 years, a creek runs through Indiana Dunes State Park
Releasing a creek that was contained in a large pipe for 80 years has improved a popular Indiana state park and reduced the volume of polluted runoff entering Lake Michigan.

Indiana cleanup project will benefit Lake Michigan
A $52 million pollution cleanup was a major step in efforts to restore the Grand Calumet River, which has long been a leading source of contaminants entering Lake Michigan.

War on invasive plants restores a famous bog
Removing invasive plant species and restoring the natural flow of water is restoring natural functions and creating new fish and wildlife habitat at a nationally recognized wetland along the Lake Michigan coast, near Chicago.

Sea lamprey barrier will aide Great Lakes fishery
A barrier installed in northern Indiana’s Trail Creek will reduce the number of sea lamprey in Lake Michigan, where the blood-sucking invaders prey on fish.


Restoring Wetlands Provides Recreation Opportunities
Restoring wetlands in the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge is allowing native plants and wildlife to return, supporting outdoor recreation opportunities.

Restoring the Huron River Improves Aquatic Ecosystems, Revitalizes Local Economies
Restoring the Huron River has restored its ecological health and expanded recreational opportunities.

Reducing Stormwater Impacts in Lake Michigan Watershed Improves Water Quality
Restoring streams and installing rain gardens has reduced sedimentation and nutrient loading in Little Traverse Bay.

Removing Invasive Frog-bit Colonies Prevents its Spread Through Michigan
Removing invasive frog-bit from the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary helped restore fish and waterfowl habitat.

Restoring Local Creek Brings Diverse Communities Together
A diverse community in Michigan is coming together to reduce harmful stormwater impacts in their watershed.

Thornapple River Restored
Removing the Nashville Dam on the Thornapple River in Southwest Michigan has improved fish habitat and water quality, increased fish diversity, and provided more recreational opportunities.

Muskegon Lake Phytoremediation Project
Muskegon Lake is using poplar trees to absorb soil contaminants on brownfield sites around the lake. The poplar trees provide ground cover, preventing erosion.

Native Species Return to a Fen along the Kalamazoo River
Fens along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan are being restored by removing invasive species so that native species can thrive.

River Habitat Restorations Leads to a 38-fold increase in Trout Population
A council of Trout Unlimited used strategically placed tree trunks to increase the variability of habitat in the Coldwater River outside of Grand Rapids. The improved habitat lead it a dramatic increase in the trout population.

New Map helps Communities Plan their Green Infrastructure Projects
A map of natural areas and green infrastructure along the Grand River is giving communities a sense of where new investments and protections are needed.

Reconnecting the Blue Heron Lagoon to the Detroit River Restores Habitat for Fish and Wildlife
The Blue Heron Lagoon has improved water quality and habitat thanks to a restored connected to the Detroit River.

Belle Isle’s South Fishing Pier Attracts Fish and Fishermen Once Again
Shoals are now slowing the river around the South Fishing Pier, providing habitat for fish and attracting fishermen once more.

Restoring Connectivity In The Two Hearted River Watershed
Stream crossings and banks were restored to naturalize stream flow, reduce sedimentation, and increase connectivity between river habitats.

Former Golf Course Transformed Into Wetlands And Public Green Space
A former golf course is restored to its natural conditions to stabilize stream banks, reduce sedimentation and nutrient runoff, and provide an outdoor public recreational area.

Liberated creek no longer a source of mercury pollution
Restoring the natural channel of a northern Michigan creek diverted the waterway from underground mines that were an ongoing source of mercury pollution in nearby Deer Lake and the southern Lake Superior watershed.

Removing small dam yields big results
The removal of the Wayne Road Dam from the Rouge River, near Detroit, restored fish passage and reconnected a large section of the river to the larger Great Lakes ecosystem.

Restored wetland helps wildlife, curbs water pollution
A restored coastal wetland along Lake Erie has created new wildlife habitat and a natural filter for polluted runoff.

Dam removal unleashes a creek
Removing a dam in southern Michigan unleashed a river that had been harnessed for nearly two centuries.

Grant preserves vast natural area along Lake Superior
A federal grant and a large private donation were combined to preserve more than two miles of Lake Superior shoreline and over 3,000 acres of adjacent forestland.

Smartphone app provides real-time beach conditions
People heading to a Great Lakes beach can now check water and weather conditions before leaving home. A smartphone app called myBeachCast has real-time information on 1,800 Great Lakes and inland beaches.

Historic project removes first of three dams
An unprecedented dam removal project in Michigan has removed the first of three dams.

Dam removal a boon for Michigan river, community festival
Removing the Chesaning Dam in northeast Michigan and replacing it with an innovative series of rock weirs gave fish access to 37 miles of the Shiawassee River and preserved the community’s popular Showboat Festival.

New bridge liberates a northern Michigan trout stream
Replacing two culverts with a bridge over the Black River in northern Michigan restored the trout stream’s natural flow and reconnected 18 miles of free flowing river to Lake Huron.

Repaired pump injects new life into large wetland
Replacing a failed pump structure at the Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area in eastern Michigan has restored a large wetland, improved wildlife habitat and increased waterfowl hunting opportunities.

Michigan’s first ‘green road’ protects water quality
A West Michigan city has transformed a half-mile of street into a green road that captures and filters polluted stormwater runoff from 60 acres of streets and industrial land. The project will reduce the volume of pollutants draining off the land and entering White Lake, which is a Great Lakes Area of Concern.

Scientists improve methods for trapping, killing sea lamprey
Researchers working in the St. Mary’s River discovered better methods for trapping and killing sea lamprey, an invasive species that poses the single greatest threat to the $7 billion Great Lakes fishery.

Large trees placed in trout stream to create new fish habitat
The U.S. Forest Service placed 1,200 trees in Michigan’s Au Sable River over the course of a decade to create new habitat for fish and other aquatic life.

Artificial reefs provide new habitat for lake sturgeon
The installation of rocky reefs in the St. Clair River, north of Detroit, is expected to increase the number of lake sturgeon and other fishing living in the river.

Grant adds huge parcel to Lake Superior natural area
A Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant enabled conservation groups in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to add 1,475 acres to the spectacular Bete Grise Preserve, located neat the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Scientists working to curb bird die-offs
Researchers at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore are unraveling the causes of deadly botulism outbreaks that have killed more than 80,000 Great Lakes shorebirds since 1990.

National Park ferry discovers ballast water solution
The first permanent ballast water treatment system on a Great Lakes freshwater ship was installed on the M/V Ranger III, which ferries visitors from Houghton, Michigan, to Isle Royale National Park.

Fish benefitting from artificial reefs in Lake Huron
Artificial reefs constructed in Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay are providing new spawning habitat and boosting fish populations.

Cleanup removes mercury from a Michigan lake 
A dredging project removed 43,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the bottom of Muskegon Lake and advanced efforts to have the lake removed from a list of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

Innovative project boosts sturgeon population
An innovative fish hatchery is bolstering the sturgeon population in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. This project, and others like it, could increase the number of these iconic fish throughout the Great Lakes.

Removing dams boosts trout population 
Removing several dams from a defunct fish farm in northern Michigan restored natural conditions in 37 miles of a trout stream, which increased the native brook trout population.

Crews hit the road to improve a Michigan trout stream
Improvements at 10 road-stream crossings over Silver Creek improved fish passage and reduced the amount of sediment washing into the trout stream, which is a tributary of the Ocqueoc River and Lake Huron.

New bridge restores a trout stream’s natural flow
Replacing a narrow culvert that restricted the Platte River, a blue ribbon trout stream in northern Michigan, restored the river’s natural flow and reduced stream bank erosion that was suffocating prime spawning areas for trout and salmon. The bridge that replaced the culvert also increased public safety by providing a safe road over the river.

Alteration to dam improves fishery in Lake Huron
A 60-year-old dam on the Potagannissing River, located on northern Lake Huron’s Drummond Island, was modified to permit fish passage and bolster the region’s northern pike fishery.

Removal of Two Dams in Michigan Restores River, Eliminates Safety Hazard
Federal Great Lakes restoration funds supported the removal of two obsolete, crumbling dams on the Paw Paw River, in southwest Michigan, removing fish barriers, restoring the river’s natural channel and providing more recreational activities.

Michigan Restoration Project Removes Pollutants Harmful to Human Health
Federal Great Lakes restoration funds helped support the removal ofmore than 500,000 pounds of harmful pollutants from the St. Mary’s River, improving water quality and providing healthier habitat for fish and wildlife. The cleanup also reduced the health risks to humans who eat fish from the river.

Great Lakes Restoration Funds Helping Citizens in Oakland County, Michigan, Remove Old Dam
Federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds are helping community in greater Detroit remove an old dam to improve water, fish habitat and recreational opportunities.

River Clean-up in Detroit, Michigan, Attracts Fish, Wildlife, Economic Development
Restoration efforts removed contaminants in a lagoon on the Detroit River, improving the water quality and allowing fish and birds to return. The project also sparked economic development along the restored river.

War on invasive plant allows native species to return 
In 2003, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources began to remove the invasive strain of common reed, known as Phragmites, which had taken over large areas of William C. Sterling State Park. The park, which lies within the River Raisin delta, provides critical habitat for fish and wildlife and supports several rare and threatened species of plants and animals.

Marsh Restoration Protects Critical Wildlife Habitat 
Restoring Tobico Marsh was part of a larger effort to heal damaged wetlands and remove contaminated sediments from the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay. The bay is one of the prime walleye fishing and waterfowl-hunting areas in the Great Lakes, despite serious environmental problems.

Decades of cleanup work paying off for White Lake 
Intensive cleanup activities have improved water quality, fish health, and reduced phosphorus concentrations in White Lake, which is one of the 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern.

Restoration of Michigan’s Muskegon Lake Benefiting Wildlife, Communities, Local Economy 
Federal Great Lakes restoration funds restored two miles of shoreline and habitat along Muskegon Lakes, allowing fish, turtles, shorebirds, and waterfowl to return. Economists estimate that the $10 million project will produce more than $66 million in economic benefits, a 6-to-1 return on investment.


Creek Restoration in Ohio Helps Lake Erie Habitat, Golf Course Bottom Line
Prior to restoration work Ward Creek, which runs through the Lost Nation Golf Course, would periodically flood preventing the golf course from being fully used. Plantings have helped reduce flood waters, increasing revenue for the golf course and improving habitat for wildlife.

Healthier stream could play role in reintroduction of trout
A restored stream in the suburbs of Cleveland could become a site where state officials reintroduce native Ohio brook trout. Removing a dam and restoring the natural channel of Sulphur Springs provided new fish habitat and reduced the amount of sediment washing into the stream.

Wetlands restored along Lake Erie
A $1.3 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project is restoring nearly 600 acres of coastal wetlands at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. The first of four projects transformed 171 acres of farmland into wetlands and coastal marsh.

Students help design creek restoration project
A creek restoration project near a suburban Cleveland high school reduced flooding and became a living laboratory for students at the school.

Land purchases protect rare Lake Erie ecosystems
The preservation of two parcels of land on Ohio’s Kelleys Island protected an imperiled Great Lakes alvar ecosystem and a rare red cedar forest.

Dam removals fuel recovery of urban stream
The removal of four dams restored fish habitat in nine miles of Baldwin Creek, an urban stream that flows into Lake Erie near Cleveland.

Project restoring valuable wetlands along Lake Erie
A $1.3 million project funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is restoring coastal wetlands along western Lake Erie.

New boats cruise for garbage in Cleveland harbor
Two unique boats are cleaning up debris in Cleveland harbor that affects water quality and harms wildlife. The vessels, called Flotsam and Jetsam, will remove up to 800 tons of debris annually from the harbor.

Cleanup removes mountain of steel slag along Ohio river
A $12 million cleanup removed a huge pile of steel slag along the Black River, in Lorain, Ohio, which improved water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.

Project restores a natural refuge in midst of urban area
Restoring the Lacustrine Refuge, a four-acre wetland adjacent to a Lake Erie tributary in Cleveland, created wildlife habitat, reduced polluted runoff and is expected to generate recreational opportunities valued at $2.4 million.

New park on Lake Erie protects critical wildlife habitat
A $1.6 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant helped establish the Lake Erie Bluffs Park in northeast Ohio. Located on the shores of Lake Erie, the park protects a stretch of scenic natural beach that provides critical habitat for 20 rare species of plants and animals.

Lake Erie watersnake saved from extinction
An intensive public education campaign and habitat restoration work brought the Lake Erie watersnake back from the brink of extinction. With the watersnake’s population nursed back to nearly 12,000 animals, it became just the 23rd species to be taken off the federal Endangered Species list.

Massive cleanup restores Ashtabula River
A sediment cleanup and habitat restoration project have transformed the lower two miles of the Ashtabula River and advanced efforts to get it de-listed as a Great Lakes Area of Concern.

Nature returns to an urban creek in Cleveland
Urban development in Cleveland left Big Creek, a tributary of the Cuyahoga River, a polluted mess that was prone to flooding. An ambitious restoration project returned the creek to a more natural state. The project reduced polluted runoff and created wetlands and other habitat that benefited fish, wildlife and people who live near the creek.

Ottawa River Clean-up in Toledo, Ohio, Removes Contaminated Sediments that Pose Risk to People, Wildlife
Federal Great Lakes restoration funds support removal of 260,000 cubic yards of toxic sediments along a 5-mile stretch of the Ottawa River in Toledo, Ohio, that posed a risk to people and wildlife—including major sportfish such as walleye and perch.

Dam removal improves water quality, fish habitat in urban stream near Cleveland, Ohio
Federal Great Lakes restoration funds removed an old dam from Euclid Creek, which allowed for the return of fish and other aquatic life to the waterway. The project increased recreational fishing opportunities and improved water quality, helping the creek to meet water quality standards.

Neighbors Work to Reduce Runoff 
Residents of two streets in a Cleveland suburb are installing rain barrels and rain gardens to reduce storm water impacts—and to inspire other neighbors to take simple steps to eliminate a major stressor facing their watershed and Lake Erie.

Marsh Restoration Paves Way for Return of Native Wildflowers 
Restoration efforts are helping control the invasive weed Phragmites, and allowing native plants and wildlife to return to Mentor Marsh, including bald eagles.

Wetland Restoration Creating Urban Oasis for People, Wildlife 
The West Creek Confluence Project, which established a floodplain and streambank for the creek, shows that even heavily developed properties in urbanized areas can be restored to improve ecological function.

Comeback Continues for Iconic River
As part of the long-term effort that’s bringing the Cuyahoga River back to life, work began in July of 2012 to create habitat for fish, restore wetlands and improve public access to the river. The 11-acre site is located on the Scranton Peninsula on the Cuyahoga River shipping channel, which is the final six miles of the river before it empties into Lake Erie.


Restored creek keeps sediment from reaching Lake Erie
Improvements to Cascade Creek in Erie, Pa., reduced urban flooding and decreased the load of sediment flowing into Lake Erie by more than 200 tons annually.

GLRI funds expand wildlife reserve along Lake Erie
Federal funds and private grants were used to buy two parcels of land that added 297 acres to the David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve, located on the shores of Lake Erie in northern Pennsylvania.

Research uncovers two new fish diseases in the Great Lakes 
Research funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative discovered two new fish diseases that could affect salmon and trout in the Great Lakes.

Lake Erie site taken off list of pollution hotspots
In 2013, Presque Isle Bay in Erie, Pa., became just the second site to be removed from the government’s list of Great Lakes toxic hotspots. A decade long cleanup effort reduced contaminant levels in sediment and improved fish health.

Important lake trout hatchery is back in service
The renovated Allegheny National Fish Hatchery re-opened in 2012, seven years after a deadly fish virus and infrastructure problems forced the facility to shut down. The facility will bolster the struggling lake trout fisheries in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Fish Passage Project bolsters a Steelhead Fishery
A fish passage structure built in a Lake Erie tributary in Pennsylvania created a steelhead fishery and gave resident and migratory fish access to four additional miles of free-flowing stream by reconnecting the lake with the upper reaches of the watershed.

New York

Removing Invasive Plants to Restore Buffalo’s Times Beach
Invasive plants were removed from the Times Beach Nature Preserve and replaced with native plants to support migratory birds and pollinators.

Preserving shoreline and wetland habitat in the St. Lawrence Valley
Valuable shoreline and wetland habitat are being protected form unwise development in the St. Lawrence Valley of upstate New York.

Restoring Fish Habitat at Lake Shore Marshes
Ducks Unlimited excavated potholes and channels in invasive stands of narrow-leaved cattail, restoring spawning habitat for migrating fish species.

Buffalo River being transformed into community treasure
A nearly one-mile stretch of the Buffalo River that was dominated by factories for several decades is being turned into a greenway that improves water quality in the river and creates new wildlife habitat.

Huge cleanup in Buffalo River reaches milestone
A $44 million cleanup that will remove one million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the Buffalo River has reached the halfway point.

Lake trout makes surprising comeback in Niagara River
Researchers recently discovered that lake trout are reproducing naturally in the Niagara River. The discovery could bolster efforts to restore the lake trout population in the river and Lake Ontario.

Barrier a new tool to control Lake Ontario’s sea lamprey population 
A new sea lamprey barrier and trap in New York’s Orwell Brook will protect fish in Lake Ontario and reduce the cost of controlling the deadly invader’s population.

Innovations restoring fish species in Lake Ontario
The U.S. Geological Survey is simultaneously restoring two native fish species — Atlantic salmon and bloater — at different levels of Lake Ontario’s food web.

Reducing erosion resurrects a New York trout stream
Stabilizing eroding stream banks along New York’s Clear Creek resurrected a trout stream by reducing the amount of sediment washing into the waterway. The project is part of a growing effort to help New York reclaim its heritage as a state teeming with healthy trout streams.

Wetland Restoration near Buffalo, N.Y., to Improve Fish and Wildlife Populations
Removing invasive plants and restoring a 15-acre wetland on Buffalo Creek, is helping improve fish and wildlife populations in the creek—as well as bolster efforts to restore the Buffalo River Area of Concern.


Mapping historic harmful algal bloom events helps combat future outbreaks, protect public health, recreation
Mapping historic harmful algal blooms has increased our understanding of the relationship between blooms and their causal factors and will lead to more effective future management.

Business Owners, Anglers Work to Prevent Spread of Invasive Species Through Bait Trade
Researchers discovered that the live bait trade presents a potential pathway for aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes.

Invention may help solve ballast water crisis
A New Jersey professor has invented a ballast water treatment system could end the era of ocean freighters hauling invasive species into the Great Lakes.

Program works to undo the Great Lakes chemical brew
Sea Grant programs in five Great Lakes states launched a program to attack the problem of people washing prescription medications down sinks and toilets. The program kept thousands of pounds of biologically active drugs from reaching the Great Lakes, where the medications can harm fish, wildlife and contaminate drinking water.

Project aims to make Great Lakes wind-power ‘bird friendly’
A $2 million project that mapped bird migrations in the Great Lakes could guide the location of new wind turbines to areas where the massive turbines are less likely to kill birds and bats.

Program helps boaters prevent spread of invasive species
Minnesota Sea Grant’s “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” campaign has taught millions of Great Lakes boaters the importance of washing their boats to prevent the spread of invasive species. Now the program is expanding.

One Response to Restoration Success Stories

  1. Paul Flansburg says:

    I applaud your continued and prudent use of and advocacy for funding. Clearly, a lot of problems have been abated/reversed. In particular, I love the convenience of having clean, essential drinking water readily available. I also love when a local community bands together to solve a problem that reaches well beyond themselves. Thank you for providing such a comprehensive source of information!

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