The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is one of 16 federal agencies participating in this Administration initiative to protect and restore the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was started in 2010 and has already made major strides in cleaning up Areas of Concern, stopping the spread of invasive species, and restoring fish and wildlife habitat throughout the Great Lakes watershed.
The USACE does not provide grants with GLRI funds, but uses them to plan, design, and construct restoration projects in collaboration with states and other nonfederal partners. With the first three years of GLRI funds, the USACE has started or completed construction of 20 restoration projects in four of the five GLRI focus areas.
The USACE has a handful of regional programs specifically for the Great Lakes that are being extensively used by GLRI. The Great Lakes Fishery & Ecosystem Restoration (GLFER) program is being used to plan, design, and construct projects to restore wetlands, fishery passages around dams, and controls for sea lamprey and other aquatic nuisance species. The Great Lakes Remedial Action Plan program is being used to help states and local partners plan and design actions to cleanup and delist AOCs. The Great Lakes Tributary Model program is being used to develop computer models that are used by state and local agencies to evaluate and compare alternatives for soil conservation and nonpoint source pollution prevention.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Focus Areas:
- Focus Area 1: Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern includes pollution prevention and cleanup of the most polluted areas in the Great Lakes.
- Focus Area 2: Invasive Species includes instituting a “zero tolerance policy” toward new invasions, including preventing the establishment of self-sustaining populations of invasive species such as Asian carp.
- Focus Area 3: Nearshore Health and Nonpoint Source Pollution includes a targeted geographic focus on high priority watershed and polluted runoff reductions from urban, suburban, and agricultural sources.
- Focus Area 4: Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration includes brining wetlands and other habitat back to life, and the first comprehensive assessment of the entire 530,000 acres of Great Lakes coastal wetlands to target restoration and protection efforts using the best science.
- Focus Area 5: Accountability, Education, Monitoring, Evaluation, Communication, and Partnerships includes the implementation of goal and results based accountability measures, learning initiatives, outreach, and strategic partnerships.