Focus Areas and Results
Since its start in FY 2010, GLRI has accelerated cleanup of the most polluted Great Lakes sites, reduced phosphorus loadings that often cause harmful algal blooms, and helped keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes. However, significant work still remains. The Federal agencies of the GLRI’s 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.
GLRI results are reported in Reports to Congress and the President.
Under the first GLRI Action Plan, covering fiscal years 2010-2014, federal agencies met or exceeded 72% of the applicable targets that had been established.
Under the first three years of the second GLRI Action Plan, covering fiscal years 2015-2019, federal agencies thus far met or exceeded 90% of the applicable targets that had been established.
Federal agencies of the GLRI's Regional Working Group are accelerating Great Lakes protection and restoration within each of the GLRI Focus Areas. As of December 2017:
Focus Area 1 – Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern
- Since 2010, the Presque Isle, PA; Deer Lake, MI; and White Lake, MI Areas of Concern (AOC) have been delisted. In addition, federal agencies and their partners have completed the cleanup and restoration actions necessary for delisting seven additional AOCs, including three in FY 2017: River Raisin, MI; St. Marys River, MI; and Lower Menominee, MI/WI.
- Since 2010, a total of 66 Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs), at 24 AOCs in the eight Great Lakes States, have been removed, more than six times the total number of BUIs removed in the preceding 22 years. Eight BUIs were removed in FY 2017 at: Black River, OH (2); St. Marys River, MI; Lower Menominee River, MI/WI (2); St. Clair River, MI (2); and Rochester Embayment, NY. Three BUIs have been removed so far in FY 2018 at: Cuyahoga River, OH; St. Marys River, MI; and Waukegan Harbor, IL.
- Since 2010, over 4 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment (over 51,000 in FY 2017) has been remediated through GLRI-associated projects.
Focus Area 2 – Invasive Species
- Since 2010, GLRI partners implemented invasive species control activities on over 134,000 acres (more than 18,000 acres in FY 2017).
- 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
- Since 2015, GLRI has implemented projects that have resulted in a projected reduction of over 767,000 pounds of phosphorus (over 360,000 in FY 2017) which contributes to harmful algal blooms around the Great Lakes in priority watersheds.
- In 2017, EPA and its partners developed a draft U.S. Domestic Action Plan to achieve recently adopted Lake Erie phosphorus reduction targets. EPA worked with 4 Federal Agencies and 5 States to develop the plan and has begun stakeholder consultation on the Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan.
Focus Area 4 – Habitat and Species
- Since 2010, more than 4,900 river-miles (over 350 in FY 2017) have been cleared for fish passage.
- Since 2010, more than 225,000 acres of habitat (over 40,000 in FY 2017), including coastal wetlands, have been protected, restored, or enhanced.
- Since 2015, 24 projects (7 in FY 2017) focusing on federally-listed endangered, threatened, and candidate Great Lakes aquatic and terrestrial species have been completed in the Great Lakes. 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 assessed Great Lakes ecosystem health and tracked ecosystem changes, including intensive monitoring on Lake Huron, to improve decisions regarding harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, plankton and benthic communities, key nearshore zone issues, contaminant trends, target setting, resource allocations, and control options. GLRI partners annually implement coordinated, intensive science and monitoring plans for each Great Lake.
- In FY 2017, over 600 educators were given hands-on training in Great Lakes based
- education and stewardship. These educators will reach an average of over 35,000 students annually.
- In 2017, worked with 4 Federal Agencies and 5 States to develop Lake Erie phosphorus reduction plans and begin stakeholder consultation for a Lake Erie Domestic Action Plan. The plan relies largely on optimization of existing programs, funding incentives and outreach to accelerate phosphorus reductions through voluntary programs.