Restoring the Great Lakes: Success stories about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative 2024

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Cover of the 2024 edition of Restoring the Great Lakes: Success stories about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative featuring small lake sturgeon swimming in the water

For decades, the Great Lakes were in peril, neglected and polluted. Thankfully, they were not beyond hope, and ongoing efforts to clean up and restore these incredible natural resources were supercharged with the creation of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2010. The initiative significantly accelerated and amplified conservation actions across the Great Lakes basin.

Since the initiative’s inception, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been entrusted with more than $575 million through interagency agreements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We’ve put that money to work across all the Great Lakes states, leveraging those investments by working with Tribes, federal, state, private, and nonfederal partners.

In 2023 alone, we completed 93 projects that restored over 4,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat, reduced threats from invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

Learn more about invasive species
, contributed to improving fish and wildlife populations, and generated critical information for future strategic actions. These actions ensure stewardship of natural resources while also investing in the region’s fishing, hunting and wildlife watching economy, which generates $18 billion in annual revenue.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been a catalyst for unprecedented coordination and innovation, with our agency playing an enormous role. By working with communities, respecting public input, and sustaining dozens of partnerships, we’ve developed a shared vision for addressing the biggest threats to the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem.

Our projects have garnered wide-spread public support, rekindled cultural connections, and benefited local communities, all while improving fish and wildlife populations. By improving the resiliency of freshwater habitats and delivering landscape-level habitat conservation on both public and private lands, we can ensure a strong future for the Great Lakes region.

Collectively, we have made great strides, but our work is not done. We will continue working with integrity and in collaboration to restore this precious irreplaceable resource. We hope you enjoy reading about a few of these incredible accomplishments in this booklet and on our website.

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Habitat restoration
Wildlife restoration
FWS and DOI Region(s)