Top 10 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant finalists account for 37 percent of funds


Echo recently took a look at the finalists for $161 million worth of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants, breaking them down by state and group type. Here we’ll check out two more metrics: Biggest winners and GLRI focus areas.

But first, remember that these numbers are still preliminary. Finalists have until the end of June to submit the last paperwork before they’re eligible for the awards.

Also, the totals don’t account for subcontracts within grants. For example, Michigan State University is in line for $3.3 million in grants that it won outright, but it could see more initiative funds from other grant winners who have partnered with the school.

Check out the complete list of finalists for yourself here.

Top 10 groups, total dollars

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Out of 136 finalists, these 10 groups stand to pull in nearly $60 million, which is 37 percent of the total $161 million.

1. Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment: $14.5 million for 29 projects, including two grants totaling $3.3 million for restoration work on Portage Creek, which is part of a Superfund site in southwest Michigan.

2. Central Michigan University: $10 million for one project, a broad coastal wetlands monitoring program put together by the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Consortium. The plan is detailed in more than 200 pages on the Great Lakes Commission’s website.

3. Clarkson University (Potsdam, N.Y.): $6.5 million for one project, a Great Lakes fish monitoring program titled “Pushing the Science.”

4. The Nature Conservancy: $6 million for 9 projects, including two grants around $1.4 million each for work the the Maumee River and Green Bay/Fox River Areas of Concern.

5. Brown County (Green Bay): $4.2 million for four projects, including $1.5 million for habitat restoration in the Cat Island chain in lower Green Bay.

6. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency: $4.1 million for five projects, including $1.5 million for habitat restoration in the Ashtabula River Area of Concern.

7. University of Minnesota: $3.9 million for five projects, including $1.5 million for public outreach on invasive species.

8. Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District: $3.7 million for seven projects, including $1.1 million for a fish passage project in the Menominee River Area of concern and $878,000 thousand for projects to develop total maximum daily loads for four water bodies.

9. Michigan State University: $3.3 million for seven projects, including $1.5 million to educate health care providers about Great Lakes fish.

10. University of Illinois at Chicago: $3.3 million for three projects, including $239,000 for work on a reactive stormwater filter to prevent beach water pollution.

The top ten list treats the branches of the University of Wisconsin System (UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, etc.) as separate entities. Otherwise, the system would be fifth on the list with $4.9 million for 10 projects.

GLRI Focus Areas

The initiative focuses on five areas of Great Lakes restoration. Here’s how the grants shake out under those categories:

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1. Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration: $55 million for 64 projects, including $2.1 million for the Muskegon Conservation District’s habitat restoration in the White Lake Area of Concern.

2. Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern: $47 million for 41 projects, including $2 million for the City of Ishpeming’s diversion of Partridge Creek in the Deer Lake Area of Concern.

3. Nearshore Health and Nonpoint Source Pollution: $35 million for 104 projects, including $2.9 million for 15 Michigan DNRE beach projects.

4. Invasive Species: $15 million for 23 projects, including nearly $1 million for a New York State Department of Education project titled “Safe Dreissena Control: Breakthrough for Unionid Restoration.”

5. Accountability, Monitoring, Evaluation, Communication and Partnerships: $13 million for 30 projects, including $1.4 to the Great Lakes Observing System for tributary monitoring.

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant finalists account for 37 percent of funds

  1. Cat Island chain (lower Green Bay) is NOT part of the Apostle Islands (Lake Superior) …

  2. There are a few other very notable things about how the grants came down. First, looking at the overall list, it is immediately clear that NGOs working on public outreach and policy issues received virtually no money at all, certainly none in the Toxics category. Although Toxics represents $41 million of the total, and is second on the list of total funding, this figure is somewhat misleading – none of it addresses green chemistry,toxics policy work, research on alternatives and substitutions, for example, and virtually all of the projects are specific and narrow and rarely represent the kind of work necessary for real policy change and the promotion of public-private collaboration necessary to push policy forward.

    Which is not to say that the projects which will receive funding are undeserving or won’t contribute to pollution prevention/remediation, but the absence of major NGOs from this category should be distressing to everyone. It was also disheartening to see some organizations who did get money, who have received big money in the past, and from the perspective of many citizens who have dealt with them, haven’t achieved anything, but turn out to be big winners again with the same old same old.

    It cannot be left only to private foundations to shoulder the cost of supporting the critical work of NGOs and public policy organizations, especially in the current economy. To the contrary, funding these organizations must be seen as an essential aspect of federal funding for the environment in general, and the Great Lakes in particular because unless these organizations receive support, the playing field on which the battle over who will determine the fate of the Lakes will be even more uneven than it is today.

    What we are seeing today is that Federal funding is going into many projects that should have been supported by state funding, except the states can’t afford to do it and the situation is critical; the inevitable result is that NGOs and policy fall to the bottom of the pile. This is a wholly untenable situation.

    Let me be clear that I am not against funding many of the initiatives which will receive funding because they are very important; certainly research, remediation, the fight against invasives, etc. must be supported. I’m just as interested is seeing restoration projects as anyone – who wouldn’t be in favor of saving wetlands, critters, nearshore areas, watersheds, etc.? But there should be a better balance of funding which includes NGOs working on policy, toxics, green chemistry, etc. throughout the Basin.

    The reason for omission of many of these proposals is that they were unable to provide specific quantifiable outcomes and measurable results within relatively short time frames. But anyone who has ever worked on toxics knows that it takes a long time to see results, that are often extremely difficult to quantify, but that over the long run they can have major impact. Just take a look at the state and local toxics initiatives around the Great Lakes and beyond; just take a look at some of Lisa Jackson’s recent comments on toxics policy – many of them have their origin in the long hard work of science and policy issues brought forward by NGOs for decades, and much of the work that revealed the need for these policies originated in the Great Lakes decades ago.

    Let’s cheer the good news that money is coming into vital projects in the Great Lakes, but let’s not forget that until all aspects of saving the Lakes have the capacity to carry out their work, there is still a very long way to go.

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