Sustain Our Great Lakes Announces $1.4 Million in Grants to Benefit Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Watershed

Funding supports eight projects to improve habitats, green space and water quality 

Least bittern

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 31, 2021) – A unique Wisconsin-based partnership under the Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) program today announced $1.4 million in conservation grant funding. The grants support eight projects that will restore and preserve natural areas and biodiversity in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan watershed. The grants announced today will leverage approximately $3.1 million in additional project support from grantees, generating a total on-the-ground conservation impact of $4.5 million. 

This additional funding under SOGL is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and supported by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Caerus Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Walder Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This unique funder collaboration leverages funds and expertise from public agencies and private philanthropy to significantly increase regional investment in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan watershed and drive meaningful change in the region’s habitats, waters and greenspace to benefit wildlife and human communities alike.

“This unique public-private partnership focused on Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan watershed continues to drive meaningful improvements to the quality and resilience of habitats and waterways at a basin-wide scale,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The grants announced today will provide support to local entities as they work to restore habitat, enhance biodiversity and improve water quality.”

“This year’s grant awards highlight the benefits of the Wisconsin SOGL collaboration,” said Kevin Shafer, executive director of MMSD. “This strong partnership is providing direct improvements to Lake Michigan and to the people who benefit from the Great Lakes.”

“Given the epic size of Lake Michigan and the millions of people living within its watershed, partnerships like SOGL’s Wisconsin Fund are vital to protecting water quality and the environment,” said Vicki Elkin, executive director of the Fund for Lake Michigan. “We’re thrilled to pool resources with other funders to amplify our impact and accomplish more than any of us could on our own.”
The eight grants awarded today will support projects across Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan watershed that will work to restore and preserve habitats and natural landscapes and improve water quality. The projects will enhance the quality and connectivity of streams habitat, control invasive species, restore wetland habitat, and improve nearshore health and water quality through green stormwater infrastructure to enhance biodiversity and safeguard habitat for critical species. Collectively, the eight projects receiving grants will:

  • Control invasive species on 440 acres of wetland, upland and riparian habitat
  • Prevent more than 57 tons of sediment from entering waterways annually
  • Add 10 million gallons of stormwater storage capacity
  • Install more than 21,000 square feet of green stormwater infrastructure
  • Create or improve 41 acres of green space
  • Plant more than 120 trees for green infrastructure and habitat benefits

This year’s Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Watershed awards include:

  • City of Greenfield ($225,000) will improve habitat resilience to development and nonpoint source pollution as well as enhance and safeguard critical habitat for native species within the headwaters of Honey Creek. Project will protect, restore and support urban biodiversity and habitat quality through floodplain/riparian wetland restoration, fish passage improvement, main channel re-meandering, in-stream restoration, improved green space and community access.
  • Clean Wisconsin ($116,500) will install green stormwater infrastructure including trees, bioswales and rain gardens, to reduce stormwater runoff while also providing cooling, improving air quality and providing pollinator habitat in Garden Homes, a highly urbanized neighborhood. Project will plant 100 trees and install vegetative infrastructure to add 9,180,000 gallons of stormwater storage annually.
  • University of Wisconsin – Green Bay ($146,000) will restore Midwestern oak savanna/wet meadow and riparian forest in a newly acquired natural area along Wequiock Creek, adjacent to the Point au Sable Nature Reserve in lower Green Bay, Wisconsin. Project will control invasive species and restore a native riparian corridor by widening native habitats along a stream corridor adjacent to a natural area with Great Lakes coastal wetlands, hardwood swamp and oak woodland.
  • Sheboygan County ($200,000) will improve aquatic and wetland habitat within Sheboygan Marsh and increase public access and educational opportunities. Project will improve up to 400 acres of habitat by restoring marsh and wetland hydrology, improving wildlife habitat, controlling invasive species and developing recreational facilities.
  • Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve, Inc. ($268,000) will restore native hardwood and coniferous forests, wetlands and prairie habitats in the Woodland Dunes Nature Center and Preserve and support environmental programming for local school districts. Project will restore or enhance wildlife and migratory bird stopover habitat at a variety of coastal preserve sites.
  • Quasimondo Physical Theatre ($75,000) will expand green stormwater infrastructure in an underserved Milwaukee community, prevent runoff pollutants from entering Lake Michigan and increase local ecological equity. Project will add 46,000 gallons of stormwater storage annually by installing a native rain garden, bioswales, a stormwater orchard, three permeable pavement mosaics designed by local minority artists, and a green wall.
  • Door County Land Trust ($83,000) will protect one mile of stream bank on Stony Creek in Door County, WI, by placing a fee acquisition on 43 acres of land on the Kruswick property. Project will preserve habitat for native animals and plants, especially habitat that supports Lake Michigan fisheries and migratory birds and provide public access to the creek and property for recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, bird watching, hunting and snowshoeing.
  • Milwaukee Public Schools ($600,000*) will design and construct green stormwater infrastructure at five public schools in Milwaukee to reduce stormwater runoff and engage community youth in environmentally conscious programming. Project will replace asphalt with 26,810 square feet of bioswales, native plantings and other green infrastructure as well as plant more than 100 trees to add 4.3 million gallons of stormwater storage annually. *$318,500 of total award amount funded by the SOGL Wisconsin partnership, and the remainder of the grant will be funded by the basin wide SOGL grant program.

The SOGL program today announced an additional 27 grants supporting ecological restoration and green stormwater infrastructure across the Great Lakes basin. For a complete list of the grants announced today by the SOGL program, and to learn more about SOGL, including applicant eligibility, funding priorities and submission requirements, please visit SOGL’s home page here

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 $6.8 billion. Learn more at

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 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. Learn more at and

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 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



Rob Blumenthal,, 202-857-0166