Partnership Between NFWF and USDA Forest Service Announces $776,000 in Grants for Lower Great Lakes Forestry Technical Assistance

Funding supports two projects in Ohio and Michigan

White-breasted nuthatch, Ohio

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 16, 2023) – A partnership between the USDA Forest Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced $776,000 in additional grant funding for two projects that will accelerate the planning and implementation of land stewardship practices for woodlands and forests within the lower Great Lakes region via technical assistance to private landowners. The additional funding announced today will expand the scope and impact of the grants awarded last year, generating a total on-the-ground conservation impact of more than $2 million. 

“This partnership with USDA Forest Service is an exciting effort that will advance shared voluntary conservation objectives in the lower Great Lakes—particularly in the context of private woodlands that have not previously seen sufficient investment or forestry technical assistance,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “These projects will meaningfully engage thousands of private woodland landowners in Michigan and Ohio and improve water quality and habitat through improved management.”

This partnership supports NFWF’s Great Lakes Business Plan and was launched in 2022 as a special initiative under NFWF’s Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) program. SOGL 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. The new SOGL funding provided through the USDA Forest Service Forest Stewardship Program is part of a multi-year Congressional Directive to support private forest management in the lower Great Lakes region.

“The USDA Forest Service is proud to be a part of this collaborative conservation effort with the NFWF to deliver forest management assistance to more than 9,000 landowners within the lower Great Lakes Basin, through the Forest Stewardship Program,” said Susan Ellsworth, Eastern Region Director for Forest Health, Forest Markets, and Cooperative Forestry with the USDA Forest Service. “These projects demonstrate the cooperation between the USDA Forest Service, state forestry agencies, and our conservation partners to support private landowners as they work to improve watershed resiliency and sustainably manage private forest lands within the lower Great Lakes region.”

This funding will increase the scope of two projects in Ohio and Michigan that will benefit fish and wildlife habitat, and water quality in the lower Great Lakes basin through stewardship and management of private woodlands in this critical region. Collectively, the two projects will improve management of at least 20,000 acres of private forests and woodlands and engage more than 9,000 landowners.

Grantee: Ohio Department of Natural Resources    
Grant Title: Enhancing Lake Erie Forests Through Partnerships and Small Woodland Owner Technical Assistance (Ohio)
New Funding Awarded: $333,700
Total Grant Award: $648,700
Grantee Matching Funds: $315,000
Project Description: The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will expand forestry technical assistance and landowner education in northern Ohio’s Lake Erie watersheds to enhance the health and productivity of woodlands, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat. Project will utilize multiple approaches and partners to increase access to and impact of forestry technical assistance, engaging 2,000 landowners and ultimately improving management through voluntary actions on 2,000 acres of woodlands.

Grantee: Michigan Department of Natural Resources    
Grant Title: Technical Assistance for Family Forest Landowners to Improve Woodland Health and Water Quality (Michigan)
New Funding Awarded: $442,300
Total Grant Award: $757,300
Grantee Matching Funds: $315,000
Project Description: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will engage diverse partners to conduct spatial analysis and help local water utilities implement their source water protection plans with family forest landowners in their watersheds. Project will educate landowners about forest management and protection, engage 7,500 landowners to support improved voluntary management actions on approximately 18,400 acres, and plant 40,000 trees in riparian zones.

To learn more about Sustain Our Great Lakes, including applicant eligibility, funding priorities and submission requirements, visit

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate, foundation and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 6,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of $8.1 billion. NFWF is an equal opportunity provider. Learn more at

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



Rob Blumenthal, 202-857-0166,