Local Organizations Awarded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funds

The Environmental Protection Agency announced 28 grants for projects that will help protect and restore our Great Lakes.

It’s called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and grants total more than $12.5 million.

The initiative was launched in 2010 to protect the Great Lakes.

Since then, it’s paid for more than 2,000 projects.

The Grand Traverse Conservation District and the Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay say the money is crucial here in Northern Michigan.

“It’s really important to not only you and I who live up here, but to the people who come here to spend their vacation and spend their money,” said Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network Coordinator Katie Grzesiak.

The health of the Great Lakes is not only crucial to our ecosystem and our environment, but our economy.

And there’s plenty to worry about.

“There’s a lot of issues all over the Great Lakes. Just different issues with invasive species, with excessive nutrients, and toxins getting into the water,” said Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay Program Director Sarah U’Ren.

That’s why this money is so important to groups like the Watershed of Grand Traverse Bay.

A nearly $500,000 grant will help reduce run-off rain water in Northport from getting into the Grand Traverse Bay.

“We’re concerned about run-off because it contains pollutants like excessive nutrients, sediments, toxins, trash, that sort of thing.”

They’re planning to use what they call green infrastructure or low-impact development practices.

“These are things like pervious pavement, rain gardens, infiltration trenches, tree box filters. Anything that we can use to have water soak into the ground before it gets to the Bay.”

The Grand Traverse Conservation District is getting more than $300,000.

That will go toward invasive species on land that can also cause problems in the water.

“Instead of just focusing on the bad plants, we get to get out there and put in some beautiful native species that will support our habitats,” Grzesiak said. “In the spring, the beautiful flower trillium is a beautiful flower that everyone loves to come up and see.”

The Watershed is looking at starting engineering work for rain flow this summer, and the Conservation District has started working on invasive plant clean up.