$14.8 Million in New Grants for Great Lakes Restoration Announced by Sustain Our Great Lakes Partnership

Funding supports 48 projects across the Great Lakes basin

White tail deer fawn in field

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 26, 2022) – The Sustain Our Great Lakes partnership today announced $14.8 million in competitive grant funding for 48 projects that will restore key habitats for wildlife, improve water quality and enhance urban greenspace throughout the Great Lakes basin. The grants will leverage approximately $18.3 million in additional project support from grantees, generating a total on-the-ground conservation impact of $33.1 million. 

Sustain Our Great Lakes is a public–private partnership that supports habitat restoration throughout the Great Lakes basin and advances the objectives of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a federal program designed to protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes ecosystem. Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the program receives funding and other support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Cleveland-Cliffs, General Mills, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA Forest Service. This year, the program received additional support from the Bezos Earth Fund. The grants awarded today represent the largest single grant slate ever awarded by the SOGL program, an achievement that is due to the continued, strong support of program partners and a historic investment from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“Sustain Our Great Lakes is a model public-private partnership that demonstrates the strength of collaboration,” said Chris Korleski, director for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office. “We are able to leverage Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds to increase the investment in communities for on-the-ground projects that reduce stormwater runoff, restore habitat, and reduce sedimentation and nutrient runoff. Working with federal and non-governmental partners, corporate and nonprofit partners and grant recipients we are able to support projects that improve water quality across the Great Lakes basin.” 

A portion of the funding awarded today was made through a Sustain Our Great Lakes partnership effort to restore and preserve natural areas and biodiversity in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan watershed. This opportunity was funded by the Caerus Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the Walder Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more about this initiative here. 

“The grants announced today by Sustain Our Great Lakes will advance key conservation priorities and objectives of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The 48 grants will restore habitat and improve water quality for the region’s globally unique habitat and natural resources and emphasize the importance of partnerships and community collaboration.”

This year’s SOGL grants will support projects in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to sustain, restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitat, improve water quality and enhance urban greenspace. The projects will enhance the quality and connectivity of streams and riparian habitat to benefit brook trout; control invasive species and restore unique habitats across the basin to benefit priority species, including rusty-patched bumble bee and Blanding’s turtle; restore wetland habitat quality and structure for migratory birds, waterfowl, piping plover and brook trout; improve nearshore health and urban greenspace through green stormwater infrastructure; and reduce sedimentation and nutrient runoff to improve water quality. 

“NRCS is pleased to be part of this partnership that will improve soil health while also making a difference for communities, wildlife, and water quality,” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “This public-private investment is an important piece of our work in the Great Lakes region.”

Collectively, the 48 projects receiving grants will:

  • Restore more than nine miles of stream and riparian habitat
  • Reconnect 154 miles of river for fish passage
  • Remove or rectify 31 barriers to aquatic organism passage
  • Restore 2,400 acres of wetland habitat
  • Prevent more than 645 tons of sediment from entering waterways annually
  • Add 66 million gallons of stormwater storage capacity
  • Improve land management using regenerative agriculture practices on 32,000 acres of farmland

“These projects will benefit communities and wildlife that depend on a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem.” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “We’re excited to support this partnership and the conservation outcomes that it continues to deliver for the Great Lakes.”

Since 2006, Sustain Our Great Lakes has awarded 453 grants worth more than $111 million and leveraged an additional $130 million in matching contributions, generating a total conservation investment of more than $241 million.

For a complete list of the grants announced today, and to learn more about Sustain Our Great Lakes, including applicant eligibility, funding priorities and submission requirements, visit

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) works with the public and private sectors to sustain, restore and enhance the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats for current and future generations. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF has grown to become the nation’s largest private conservation grant-maker, funding more than 20,400 projects and generating a total conservation impact of $7.4 billion. Learn more at

About Cleveland-Cliffs
Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America. Founded in 1847 as a mine operator, Cliffs also is the largest manufacturer of iron ore pellets in North America. The Company is vertically integrated from mined raw materials, direct reduced iron, and ferrous scrap to primary steelmaking and downstream finishing, stamping, tooling, and tubing. We are the largest supplier of steel to the automotive industry in North America and serve a diverse range of other markets due to our comprehensive offering of flat-rolled steel products. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland-Cliffs employs approximately 27,000 people across its operations in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit

About the Caerus Foundation
The Caerus Foundation aims to expand educational opportunities for young people, alleviate human suffering, cultivate a more inclusive arts community, and preserve the natural world for future generations. The Foundation’s environmental efforts include protecting and restoring ecosystems with emphasis on the Midwest. Caerus also supports science education and awareness building to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and engage communities in safeguarding natural areas.

About Crown Family Philanthropies
Rooted in the legacy of Arie and Ida Crown, as well as the Jewish tradition of tikun olam—or repairing the world—Crown Family Philanthropies (CFP) is driven by more than 70 years of family commitment to social impact. CFP funds vital and sustainable projects and organizations in the areas of education; health and human services; global health; Jewish giving; and the environment, where their grantmaking supports efforts to value, preserve and restore natural ecosystems through innovative science-based approaches, emphasizing collaborative efforts which deliver measurable results.

About General Mills
General Mills supports projects that restore and enhance habitat for fish and wildlife in the Great Lakes Basin through the Sustain Our Great Lakes Program and in the Southern Great Plains through the Conservation Partners Program. The projects funded by General Mills help farmers accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture principles.

About the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is a grantmaking organization dedicated primarily to sustained investment in the quality of life of the people of Southeast Michigan and Western New York. The two areas reflect the devotion of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his beloved Buffalo Bills NFL team. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson provided that a significant share of his estate be used to continue a life-long generosity of spirit by funding the Foundation that bears his name. Based in Detroit, the Foundation began with a grantmaking capacity of $1.2 billion over a 20-year period, which expires January 8, 2035. This structure is consistent with Mr. Wilson’s desire for the Foundation’s impact to be immediate, substantial, measurable, and overseen by those who knew him best. For more information visit

About the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) leads the nation’s environmental science, research, education, and assessment efforts. The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office oversees the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative which is used to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world – the Great Lakes. 

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

About the USDA Forest Service
Established in 1905, the Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit

About the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
As the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s primary private lands conservation agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners make investments in their operations and local communities to keep working lands working, boost rural economies, increase the competitiveness of American agriculture, and improve the quality of our air, water, soil, and habitat. Through one-on-one, personalized and voluntary assistance, NRCS works with producers and communities to find the best solutions to meet their unique conservation and business goals to ensure the health of our natural resources and the long-term sustainability of American agriculture.

About the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District 
MMSD is a regional government agency, providing water reclamation and flood management services for 1.1 million people in 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee Area. Award winning and globally recognized, MMSD is a partner for a cleaner environment. From green infrastructure, watershed planning, technology advancements and energy creation, the District strives to make its cities and villages better, healthier places to live.

About the Walder Foundation
The Walder Foundation was established by Joseph and Elizabeth Walder to address critical issues impacting our world. The Foundation’s five areas of focus—science innovation, environmental sustainability, the performing arts, migration and immigrant communities, and Jewish life—are an extension of the Walders’ lifelong passions, interests, and their personal and professional experiences. Learn more at



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