Kayaker on the Huron River

Southeast Michigan to Benefit from $1.6 Million in Conservation Grants That Will Improve Community and Habitat Resilience

Public-private partnership funds seven projects to reduce stormwater impact, improve water quality, enhance habitat and increase accessibility and usability of public green space

Huron River

DETROIT (March 16, 2021) Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund partners today announced seven projects selected to receive $1.6 million in grant funding to benefit communities and wildlife habitats in southeast Michigan. The grants awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) will leverage $1.4 million in matching contributions to generate a total conservation impact of more than $3 million.

These investments will strengthen regional resilience for communities by installing green infrastructure, increasing urban tree canopy, and restoring riverbank and floodplain habitat. Additionally, projects will restore critical habitat for wildlife including monarch butterflies and migratory birds, while creating and enhancing public access and improving water quality.

The projects supported by these grants will:

  • Add 3.3 million gallons of stormwater storage
  • Plant more than 650 trees for increased stormwater storage and improved habitat
  • Add 44 instream habitat structures
  • Help restore the quality and connectivity of the region’s unique habitats
  • Improve quality of life for residents by increasing public access to natural areas and parks for local communities through six new access points

“This public-private partnership is committed to investing in projects that deliver multiple benefits for the people and wildlife that call southeast Michigan home,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The grants awarded today represent the third year of investments made by the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund and demonstrate the Fund’s ability to deliver ecological and community resilience benefits at a regional level.” 

Seven corporate, foundation and government funding partners joined NFWF to create the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund. The fund is supported by contributions from:

  • Cleveland-Cliffs
  • The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • The U.S. Forest Service

Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund 2021 grant recipients include:

  • Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, to improve habitat along the Huron River at Willow Metropark in Wayne County by restoring eroded river bank, in-stream, floodplain and native prairie habitat.
  • City of Detroit, to install a bioretention project at Patton Park, a 93-acre, city-owned park located on the border of Detroit and Dearborn, to capture runoff.
  • Oakland County Parks and Recreation, to remove the failing Davisburg Mill Pond Dam to restore the natural stream channel and adjacent wetlands.
  • Chandler Park Conservancy, to install green stormwater infrastructure in Chandler Park, Detroit to reduce combined sewer overflows and flooding to adjacent community property owners.
  • Detroit Future City, to restore habitat and create public green space along 1.3 acres of vacant land in East Poletown, Detroit by removing invasive species, adding biodiversity through planting of native trees and shrubs, and enhancing educational public space.
  • Friends of the Rouge, to build more than 7,000-square-feet of green stormwater infrastructure by planting trees, installing rain gardens and removing impervious surfaces.
  • City of Hamtramck, to plant at least 300 trees throughout the city of Hamtramck and strengthen partnerships built with the local community.

“As we look to improve the quality of life in southeast Michigan by investing in parks and trails, it is also essential to support green infrastructure and resilient solutions to the critical challenges posed by climate change,” said JJ Tighe, Parks & Trails Initiative director for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “We’re thankful for the collaboration across both public and private partners to solve for these challenges with local and community-based solutions.”

"Our foundation is delighted to participate in this wonderful collaborative effort, which enables us to leverage multiple contributions for maximum group impact," said Neil Hawkins, president of the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation. "It's a win-win opportunity for the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem and for the many people whose well-being depends on it."  

“The Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund continues to exemplify the strength of public-private partnerships,” said Chris Korleski, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office. “The fund brings together federal and non-governmental partners that leverage Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds to deliver on-the-ground projects in southeast Michigan communities, including communities that have historically been underrepresented and underserved.”

“Flooding is a major concern for urban communities,” said Lois R. DeBacker, managing director of Kresge’s Environment Program. “Climate change directly impacts water supply, and changes in precipitation are placing stress on the built and natural systems that provide fresh water, manage stormwater and treat wastewater. One of our primary goals at Kresge is helping cities implement climate change mitigation and adaptation approaches that advance racial and economic equity. The efforts being supported by the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund to install green infrastructure, increase urban tree canopies, and restore riverbank and floodplain habitats will help communities that are disproportionately vulnerable to urban flooding and extreme rainfall become better equipped to reduce and prepare for the impacts of climate change.”

To learn more about the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund and the seven projects announced today, please visit

Since 2018, Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund has awarded 21 grants worth more than $4.5 million and leveraged an additional $5.8 million in matching contributions, generating a total conservation investment of more than $10.3 million. 

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 and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 5,000 organizations and generated a total conservation impact of more than $6.8 billion. Learn more at

About Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.
Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America. Founded in 1847 as a mine operator, Cliffs also is the largest supplier of iron ore pellets in North America. In 2020, Cleveland-Cliffs acquired two major steelmakers, AK Steel Corporation and ArcelorMittal USA LLC, vertically integrating its legacy iron ore business with quality-focused steel production and emphasis on the automotive end market. Cleveland-Cliffs’ fully integrated portfolio includes custom-made pellets and Hot Briquetted Iron (HBI); flat-rolled carbon steel, stainless, electrical, plate, tin and long steel products; as well as carbon and stainless steel tubing, hot and cold stamping and tooling. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland-Cliffs employs approximately 25,000 people across its mining, steel and downstream manufacturing operations in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit

About the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation
The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation’s mission is to advance an environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant metropolitan Detroit and a flourishing Great Lakes ecosystem. The Foundation is focused on improving water quality, especially in the watersheds impacting metro Detroit and Bayfield, Ontario; promoting environmental health, justice and sustainable development; and supporting the arts as a means to strengthen the metropolitan Detroit region. One-third of the foundation’s annual $12 million grants budget is targeted towards improving water stewardship and promoting green stormwater infrastructure. For more information, visit

About The Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information visit

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 Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.’s devotion to his hometown of Detroit and greater Buffalo, home of his Buffalo Bills franchise. Prior to his passing in 2014, Mr. Wilson requested 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. The foundation has 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. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. For more information, visit

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 U.S. Forest Service
Established in 1905, the Forest Service’s mission 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 one of the largest forestry research organizations in the world. Public lands managed by the Forest Service provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply and contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. The agency also supports sustainable management on about 500 million acres of private, state and tribal forests including forests in urban areas. For more information, visit


Contact: Rob Blumenthal,, 202-857-0166