Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world — the Great Lakes.

As one of GLRI’s 16 task force members, the Forest Service uses Great Lakes Restoration Initiative resources to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and to accelerate progress toward long term restoration goals for this important ecosystem.

On September 24, 2014 the EPA released a new action plan that guides federal agencies in the protection of watershed resources through FY 2019. GLRI Action Plan II summarizes the actions that federal agencies are implementing during FY15-19. Planned actions build on restoration and protection work carried out under the first GLRI Action Plan, with a major focus on:

  • Cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern
  • Preventing and controlling invasive species
  • Reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful/nuisance algal blooms
  • Restoring habitat to protect native species


2015 U.S. Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grants

In January 2016 the Forest Service awarded $375,049 in GLRI restoration grant funding for 10 projects across six Midwest and Northeast states. The selected projects serve to reduce invasive plant impacts and help restore impaired watersheds and water quality. The six states with awarded projects include three projects in Michigan and two projects in Wisconsin, and one project each in Minnesota, Indiana, New York and Pennsylvania. Projects will take place on lands of various ownership, but include restoration activities on the Superior, Huron-Manistee, Hiawatha, and Chequamegon-Niclolet National Forests.

Awarded projects include:

Click here for more information on Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants.

Eastern Region's Cooperative Weed Management Areas in Support of GLRI

The U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service partner with federal, state and local government agencies, tribes, individuals and other interested groups, to establish community organizations to reduce the impacts of invasive plants that degrade habitat for native waterfowl and other wildlife. These Cooperative Weed Management Areas (CWMAs) provide early detection and rapid response programs for invasive plant species and treat infestations through chemical, mechanical, cultural, and biological methods. Although CWMAs exist independent of the GLRI, their important work often supports similar goals and may be funded through GLRI grants.

Click here to learn more about CWMAs in the Eastern Region!

The Great Lakes Basin [map]

There are six national forests within the Great Lakes basin:

National Forests & GLRI

There is a strong connection between the health of national forests within the Basin and the health of the Great Lakes, from the tributaries that drain into the lakes, to the invasive species threatening their health – projects on National Forest System lands make a difference!

Forests bring significant benefits to our land, water, and communities, such as:

  • Clean Water
  • Healthy aquatic ecosystems
  • Clean air - by filtering pollutants

In urban areas - trees & forests: 

  • Reduce storm water runoff
  • Cool the air
  • Provide recreation
  • Provide critical habitat for fish & wildlife

In rural areas - trees & forests:

  • Protect municipal water supplied
  • Reduce flooding
  • Replenish ground water aquifers
  • Provide recreation
  • Provide critical habitat for fish & wildlife

Sources on Forests & Water

Protect Clean Water Guide:

Forests, Water, & People Analysis:

Did You Know: 52 million people depend on water from northern forests?!ut/p/z0/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfIjo8zijQwgwNHCwN_DI8zPyBcqYKBfkO2oCABZcx5g/?position=Not&navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&ss=1109&pnavid=160000000000000&navid=160120000000000&cid=stelprdb5281902