Current and Past Great Lakes Habitat Restoration Projects
The NOAA Restoration Center works to restore habitat for Great Lakes fish species, helping to support ecosystems, communities, and local economies. These efforts have largely been supported through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Since 2010, the NOAA Restoration Center has supported 85 habitat restoration projects in the Great Lakes region through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. These projects have restored more than 4,600 acres of habitat and opened almost 500 miles of stream for fish.
Below are descriptions of projects funded in Fiscal Years 2017 through 2021. Additional projects from prior years can be found in our Restoration Atlas.
Powderhorn Lake Connectivity Project
The Great Lakes Commission will be awarded $89,965 in FY2021 to support reestablishing the hydrologic connection between Lake Michigan and Powderhorn Lake, a freshwater lake located in Chicago, Illinois. Once connected as part of a large collection of marshes, lakes, and rivers, these areas have been isolated by urban and industrial development. This project will hydrologically reconnect Powderhorn and its northern neighbor, Wolf Lake, which connects to Lake Michigan through the Indian Creek pathway to Calumet River. The effort will enhance fish and bird populations and associated recreational activities on publicly accessible land close to a major population center. This project was previously supported through the NOAA-Great Lakes Commission partnership.
YMCA Shoreline Restoration Project
The Great Lakes Commission will be awarded $453,506 in FY2021 to restore fish and wetland habitat in the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern, building on past NOAA investments in the area. Unnatural debris at the site, including foundry fill, sand, slag, metal scrap, and broken bricks, will be replaced with wetland plants to enhance habitat for Great Lakes native species, including northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegill, walleye, and others.
White River Restoration Project
The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission will be awarded $1,389,964 in FY2021 to restore habitat in two high quality, cold-water tributaries to the White River, which is a Country Scenic River under Michigan’s Natural River Act. These streams are designated trout streams and support self-sustaining populations of native brook trout. Funding will support the design and removal of four undersized, damaged culverts, providing more than 7 miles of unobstructed fish passage from Lake Michigan. In-stream and stream bank habitat improvements will restore more than 7 acres of wetland floodplain habitat and 1,000 feet of in-stream habitat.
Stoney Creek Marshville Dam Project
The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission will be awarded $1,210,707 in FY2021 to design and remove a remnant of the Marshville Dam, which was constructed on Stony Creek in the early 1800s. Stony Creek provides high-quality cold water habitat for brook trout. Through this project, an open span timber bridge will be installed to replace three culverts and the dam remnant obstructing fish passage and 500 lineal feet of in-stream habitat will be restored. This will open 6.5 miles of stream and allow fish to access 18.0 acres of adjacent wetlands.
Little Cedar Creek Project
The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission will be awarded $967,905 in FY2021 for restoration work in Little Cedar Creek, the longest tributary of Cedar Creek and a high-quality cold water tributary to the Muskegon River. The project will restore 3.5 miles of fish passage, restore 500 feet of in-stream fish habitat, and reconnect 12 acres of wetland habitat and essential spawning and nursery habitat for lake-run and resident fish species such as brook trout, brown trout, and sculpin. This project was previously supported through the NOAA- West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission partnership.
Detroit and Rouge River Restoration and Revitalization
The Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research and the University of Michigan will be awarded $93,635 in FY2021. The Detroit River and Rouge River comprise two of the Great Lakes region’s Areas of Concern with a complex legacy of sediment contamination. While significant work has been completed by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Legacy Act, considerable work in these two urban watersheds remain. This project will engage with and align local and regional parties in the Detroit and Rouge River watersheds to establish a clear and timely success path for supporting non-federal match for sediment remediation. Work will continue and expand on activities previously funded by NOAA. Outcomes of the project include a comprehensive, community-based strategy and innovative approaches to build cost sharing partnerships for sediment remediation in the Detroit and Rouge River AOC systems.
Ford’s Cove Shoreline and Coastal Wetland Restoration Project
The Great Lakes Commission received $264,514 in FY2020 for a feasibility study to evaluate and plan for the restoration of degraded coastal wetland, nearshore, and shoreline habitat in a heavily developed section of Lake St. Clair. Proposed project activities will benefit a wide diversity of species by reducing high-energy wave impacts and improving nursery habitat, cover, and forage for fish and other wildlife.
Manistique River Sediment Remediation
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality received $18,771,330 between FY2013 and FY2019 to remove contaminated sediments from the Manistique River Area of Concern in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Several planning and remedial actions were carried out through the various phases of this project. This work led to the removal of over 50,000 cubic yards of sediment containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the river, which are known to cause elevated concentrations of PCBs in fish and present a human health consumption risk.
Kids Creek Stream Corridor Restoration Project
The Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Initiative received $1,708,529 between FY2018 and FY2020 to improve habitat on a 3,000-foot section of Kids Creek in the Grand Traverse Bay watershed of Michigan's northwest Lower Peninsula, and to replace three undersized culverts that are restricting hydrologic flow. Once implemented, this project will improve in-stream habitat, reduce scouring and sedimentation, and provide a stable environment for macroinvertebrate species as well as native fish species such as brook trout.
St. Clair-Detroit River System Coastal Restoration Initiative
The Great Lakes Commission received $2,898,861 between FY2018 and FY2020 to implement a diverse suite of coastal restoration projects along the St. Clair-Detroit River System in the coastal counties of southeast Michigan. Two sites, the Lake Erie Metropark restoration project and the Brandenburg Park engineering and design project, were selected for the first year of this multi-year award. Funding was recommended in the second and third years of this award to support construction at both sites. By improving degraded coastal wetlands and nearshore habitats, these projects will restore high quality migration, spawning, nursery, and refuge habitat for native fish species which is limited in the St. Clair Detroit River system.
Reconnecting and Restoring Northern Lower Michigan’s Premier Coldwater River Systems
Huron Pines received $1,329,661 between FY2018 and FY2020 to remove several high-priority fish passage barriers that were identified as priorities for restoration across the Northern Lower Michigan region. Restoration efforts will address one of the most significant issues threatening Great Lakes fisheries, habitat fragmentation in coldwater river systems. Huron Pines and partners will reconnect 23 upstream miles by removing two fish passage barriers. They will also develop designs and remove another two barriers in the same watershed so that brook trout and other native species can access an additional 66 miles of key habitat within the Thunder Bay River watershed.
Muskegon Lake – Design, Restoration, Monitoring, and Planning
The Great Lakes Commission received $819,926 in FY2018 for engineering and design, restoration, ecological monitoring, and long-term planning within the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern. This work includes the design of restoration projects at two shoreline properties along Muskegon Lake, post-restoration management of a restoration site at Heritage Landing, ecological monitoring and long-term maintenance planning for NOAA-funded restoration projects within the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern.
Belle Isle's Lake Okonoka Habitat Restoration
The Friends of the Detroit River will be awarded $57,661 in FY2021 to support post-construction activities for the Lake Okonoka reconnection and shoreline restoration project on Belle Isle in Michigan. NOAA previously supported a feasibility study, design plans, and construction at the site through the NOAA-Friends of the Detroit River partnership. This project will greatly improve water quality conditions in the lake, ultimately providing fish in the Detroit River access to historic spawning and nursery habitat and countless benefits for reptiles, amphibians, and migratory birds.
Black Creek Marsh Coastal Wetland Restoration Project
The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority received $863,000 between FY2014 and FY2017 to construct a series of shallow open water channels and small ponds through part of the Black Creek Marsh within the Lake St. Clair Metropark. This project created channels and ponds that will provide fish spawning and rearing habitat even during periods of low Great Lakes water levels. Ultimately, this will increase the diversity and abundance of fish species in the Clinton River Area of Concern. The project will also increase recreational opportunities within the Metropark.
Celeron Island Habitat Restoration
The Friends of the Detroit River received $9,218,799 between FY2017 and FY2019 to restore Celeron Island, a 68-acre island in the lower Detroit River at the mouth of Lake Erie. Emergent and offshore shoals will be constructed to prevent erosion of the island’s southern end and northeast side. These structures will protect the island from strong lake-driven waves and will allow for the regeneration of wetlands in the quiet water formed behind the shoals. NOAA previously funded the feasibility, design, and engineering phases. This phase of the restoration project is a major step in completing habitat re-construction among the islands in the lower part of the Detroit River to provide spawning, nursery and feeding habitat for Great Lakes native fish and wildlife.
Sugar Island Habitat Restoration
The Friends of the Detroit River will be awarded $6,349,322 in FY2021 for the restoration of Sugar Island, a 34-acre island in the lower Detroit River at the mouth of Lake Erie. NOAA previously supported design plans and construction at the site through the NOAA-Friends of the Detroit River partnership. Multiple partners have been involved in developing the Sugar Island habitat restoration project including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who owns and manages the island as part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The area of the Detroit River where the island is located serves as one of the most important spawning areas for western Lake Erie. However, fish populations surrounding Sugar Island are relatively low due to sediment disturbance originating from the eroding, south-facing cliff. Funding will support restoration of the island’s south end and nearshore area, including a series of curvilinear off-shore habitat shoals surrounding 20-acres of shallow calm, backwater fish nursery and spawning habitat off the southern end of the island.
Hennepin Marsh Restoration
The Friends of the Detroit River will be awarded $4,315,841 in FY2021 for the restoration of Hennepin Marsh that borders the shoreline of Grosse Ile in the Trenton Channel, just south of the Grosse Ile Toll Bridge. NOAA previously supported a feasibility study and design plans at the site through the NOAA-Friends of the Detroit River partnership. The project site encompasses approximately 25 acres of island shoals and emergent wetlands. The protective perimeter of barrier shoal islands are eroding, and the wetlands behind them are therefore potentially threatened by current, wave, and ice actions of the Trenton Channel. Historically, lake sturgeon, lake whitefish, white bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, rock bass, sunfish, and many other fish species could be found at the project site. To prevent further erosion to the shoal islands in the south marsh, the islands will be rebuilt and protected from future erosion. Woody debris, log structures, stone spawning beds, and stone will also be added to recreate robust habitat for native fish.
Lakeview Wildlife Management Area: Hemi-Marsh Habitat Restoration Project
The Great Lakes Commission will be awarded $645,255 in FY2021 to support the design and construction of marsh habitat in Lakeview Wildlife Management Area. Lakeview WMA contains five large coastal ponds that are connected by numerous natural and manmade built channels. The habitat is currently thick with mats of dense cattails and encroachment of invasive species. This project will utilize a wetland enhancement technique known as “channeling and potholing” to improve coastal marsh habitat to restore historic conditions prior to cattail invasion. The restoration will improve the hydrology and habitat connectivity to benefit spawning northern pike and other fish as well as create breeding habitat for nesting Black Terns and migrating marsh birds and waterfowl.
Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park Shoreline and Aquatic Habitat Project
The Great Lakes Commission will be awarded $962,800 in FY2021 to support pre-construction activities aimed at creating coastal wetland habitat in a predominantly hardened shoreline area of the Niagara River in the City of Buffalo, New York. The project will restore up to 5 acres of submerged and emergent wetlands, including 2,500 feet of shoreline, deepwater channels, and fish enhancement structures. The newly created wetland ecosystem will directly contribute to the Niagara River Area of Concern’s delisting and will serve a critical coastal resiliency function for the Western New York region. NOAA previously supported planning activities at the site through the NOAA-Great Lakes Commission partnership. This project is part of a larger transformative effort to redesign and re-construct LaSalle Park into the new Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park.
Collins Park Stream Restoration Feasibility Study
The Great Lakes Commission will be awarded $201,035 in FY2021 for a feasibility study to evaluate potential restoration options for improving biodiversity and creating nursery habitat in the Duck Creek watershed, located upstream of Toledo’s highly industrialized waterfront on the Maumee River. The project portion of the creek is very channelized and much of the creek flows through subsurface culverts. Surrounding areas are currently managed as a municipal golf course and maintained parkland. Eventual implementation of this project will address objectives laid out by the Maumee AOC Program to achieve Ohio’s beneficial use restoration targets and provide connectivity between other AOC habitat improvement projects.
Restoration of the Ottawa River in Jermain Park
The Great Lakes Commission will be awarded $730,271 in FY2021 to create wetland habitat and stabilize eroding stream banks along the Ottawa River. Over the last century, ditching, tiling, and development have impacted the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the Ottawa River and its tributaries, leading to severely degraded habitat for fish and wildlife. This project will support design and construction activities and directly address GLRI Action Plan III Focus Area I by creating 2.7 acres of wetland habitat, stabilizing 2,300 feet of eroding streambank, and enhancing 750 feet of riparian buffer.
Little Portage Wildlife Area Coastal Wetland Restoration
Ducks Unlimited received $149,924 in FY2018 for restoration at Little Portage Wildlife Area, a 407-acre coastal wetland and upland complex located at the confluence of the Portage and Little Portage Rivers in Ottawa County, Ohio. The area’s water control structures and pump were completely non-functional, making it impossible to manage water levels and aquatic vegetation in the wetlands and resulting in a significant decline in the quality of the habitat. With this funding, Ducks Unlimited developed design plans to restore hydrologic exchange and management capability to at least 225 acres of coastal wetland habitat.
Toussaint Wildlife Area Coastal Wetland Restoration Project
Ducks Unlimited received $1,323,698 between FY2016 and FY2018 restoration at the Toussaint Wildlife Area, a 231-acre coastal wetland complex located in a bend of the Toussaint River in Ottawa County, Ohio. The project will restore fish access into the wetlands and remove levees and water control structures to restore water flow and improve the condition of the marsh.
Maumee River Wetland Restoration at Penn 7 Project
The City of Toledo received $1,891,291 between FY2015 and FY2020 to complete a feasibility study and designs, and to construct 15.2 acres of emergent coastal/floodplain wetland habitat on the lower Maumee River. This restoration effort will result in improved rearing habitat for juvenile migratory fish and restored upland and aquatic habitat for other fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals in the Maumee Area of Concern.
Howard Marsh Phase II Restoration
Ducks Unlimited received $4,233,699 between FY2018 and FY2020 for construction to restore approximately 210 acres of emergent coastal wetlands and 25 acres of upland forest and native grass at Howard Marsh Metropark, a 987-acre agricultural property in Lucas County near the shore of Lake Erie and within the Maumee Area of Concern. Once implemented, the project will hydrologically connect the restored wetlands with Lake Erie.
Cuyahoga River Restoration at Cascade Valley View Metropark
The Great Lakes Commission received $3,842,912 between FY2018 and FY2019 to develop designs and restore habitat in the main stem of the Cuyahoga River and its associated floodplain. Nearly 60 acres of floodplain on the Cuyahoga River will be restored through this project to help address several fish and wildlife related Beneficial Use Impairments. Prior restoration activities at the site, funded by a Clean Ohio grant, include the restoration of headwater tributaries via daylighting of culverted streams, wetlands restoration, and reforestation of upland areas.