Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government


GLRI Results

Focus Areas and Results

Since its start in FY 2010, GLRI has accelerated cleanup of the most polluted Great Lake sites, reduced phosphorous loadings that often cause harmful algal blooms, and helped keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes. Significant work still remains. Federal agencies of the GLRI Regional Working Group continue to focus on Great Lakes restoration through on-the-ground and in-the-water projects which target the most significant environmental problems.

Federal agencies of the GLRI's Regional Working Group are accelerating Great Lakes protection and restoration within each of the GLRI Focus Areas.

Focus Area 1 – Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern (AOCs)

113 Beneficial Use Impairments have been removed from 30 AOCs. (103 at 28 AOCs since the start of the GLRI in 2010.) Nine BUIs were removed in FY 2021 and seven in FY 2022. BUI removals in FY 2021 and FY 2022 were at:

Six AOCs have been delisted through December 2021.

Focus Area 2 – Invasive Species

  • GLRI partners implemented invasive species control activities on more than 200,000 acres through FY 2020.
  • GLRI has been central to efforts that keep self-sustaining populations of silver, bighead, and black carp out of the Great Lakes.

Focus Area 3 – Nonpoint Source Pollution Impacts on Nearshore Health

  • The Center for Disease Control awarded GLRI funding for The Harmful Algal Bloom Program at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to develop the state’s first blue-green algae beach signs.
  • Through FY 2020, GLRI has implemented projects resulting in a projected reduction of more than 2 million pounds of phosphorus which contributes to harmful algal blooms around the Great Lakes in priority watersheds.
  • Through FY 2020, GLRI implemented projects that capture more than 375 million gallons of untreated urban runoff annually. These projects increase green space in urban areas, reduce bacterial contamination, and return vacant properties to productive use.

Focus Area 4 – Habitat and Species

  • More than 6,000 river-miles have been cleared for fish passage through FY 2020.
  • More than 460,000 acres of habitat, including over 65,000 acres of coastal wetlands, have been protected, restored or enhanced through FY 2020.
  • In 2020, historic high-water levels and storm events presented significant challenges to continued efforts to increase Great Lakes Piping plover population numbers. Staff from federal agencies, universities, and volunteers met these challenges even during the emergence of COVID-19 to rescue numerous nests and carry out a successful captive rearing program for this species. A record 53 Piping plover eggs were salvaged from clutches, a high rate (85%) of eggs incubated were hatched, and the most captively reared chicks were released in a season (39). These captive rearing efforts continued the momentum necessary to increase numbers that will be found in the Great Lakes for future generations.
  • GLRI partners continue to complete projects focusing on federally-listed endangered, threatened, and candidate Great Lakes aquatic and terrestrial species. Native fish species restoration projects and technical support made available to federal, tribal, and state fisheries agencies has accelerated restoration of Great Lakes commercial and recreational fisheries annually valued at greater than $7 billion.

Focus Area 5 – Foundations for Future Restoration Actions

  • GLRI partners have monitored and assessed the overall health of the Great Lakes, including monitoring of contaminants in Great Lakes fish, water quality and the lower food web in the offshore waters, and excess nutrients and harmful algal blooms in priority areas. This work informs management decisions regarding Great Lakes issues such as fisheries, harmful algal blooms and hypoxia. GLRI partners annually implement coordinated, intensive science and monitoring plans for each Great Lake.
  • Through FY 2020, more than 575,000 youth have been impacted through education and stewardship projects.