What We Do
​Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore | Credit: EPA
  • Sustain Our Great Lakes Program

    The Great Lakes are among the most important natural resources in the world. With more than 20 percent of the earth’s surface fresh water, 10,000 miles of shoreline and 30,000 islands, they provide drinking water for tens of millions of people and habitat for a vast array of plants and wildlife, including more than 200 globally rare species.

    The region’s immense network of coastal marshes, inland wetlands, and forests provide critical ecological services, such as water filtration and storage, flood control, nutrient cycling, and carbon storage. The Great Lakes also offer unmatched opportunities for shipping, industry, tourism, and outdoor recreation that have fostered one of the largest economies in the world.

    Despite these values, the Great Lakes have been significantly degraded by human activity during the past two centuries. Threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species and pollution have impaired water quality, wildlife populations, and quality of life in the basin.

    Funding priorities for this program include:

    • ​Aquatic connectivity (e.g., dam removal, bridge and culvert replacement, installation of fish passage structures);
    • Riparian and stream habitat (e.g., streambank stabilization, invasive species control, restoration of native vegetation, placement of in-stream structures);
    • Wetlands (e.g., invasive species control, restoration of native vegetation, hydrological restoration); and
    • Green stormwater infrastructure (e.g., construction/improvement of urban wetlands, installation of bioswales, pervious surfaces, and rain gardens, and native tree planting).

    From 2006 through 2019, the program has awarded 337 grants worth $81 million in federal and corporate partner funding. Grantees matched this funding with an additional $93.5 million, for a total conservation investment of over $174.5 million. Some of the important outcomes generated by this investment include 2,145 miles of restored aquatic connectivity, 42,878 acres of restored habitat, and 281 miles of restored stream and riparian habitat.

    NFWF administers the Sustain Our Great Lakes program in partnership with ArcelorMittal, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service. Significant program funding is provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a federal program designed to protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes ecosystem. Partners supporting the new funding available for projects in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan watershed include the Caerus Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Walder Foundation.


 Application Information

  • (Updated: 1/13/2020)

  • (Updated: 1/13/2020)

  • (Updated: 1/13/2020)


 Program Information

  • (Updated: 8/13/2018)


 Staff Representatives






 Due Dates

  • 2/11/2020
    Pre-Proposal Deadline

  • 4/16/2020
    Full Proposal Deadline