Sustain Our Great Lakes Partnership Celebrates $7.4 Million in Conservation Grants for Great Lakes Restoration in 2020 and Announces 2021 Request for Proposals

Funding in 2020 supported 33 projects across the Great Lakes basin. $8.5 million will be available for grants in 2021.

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 11, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sustain Our Great Lakes partners today celebrated $7.4 million in grant funding for 33 projects awarded in 2020 that will restore key habitats for wildlife, improve water quality and enhance urban greenspace throughout the Great Lakes basin. The program also announced its 2021 Request for Proposals, which will offer $8.5 million in grant funding, and the addition of General Mills as a key funding partner for grants supporting conservation projects in the agricultural sector.

The $7.4 million in grants announced today will leverage approximately $7.6 million in additional project support from grantees, generating a total on-the-ground conservation impact of $15 million. These grants will support projects in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin and the Canadian province of Ontario to sustain, restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitat, improve water quality and enhance urban greenspace.

The projects are enhancing the quality and connectivity of streams and riparian habitat to benefit brook trout, controlling invasive species and restoring unique habitats across the basin to benefit priority species, including rusty-patched bumble bee and Blanding’s turtle, restoring wetland habitat quality and structure for migratory shorebirds, waterfowl, least bittern, and northern pike, improving nearshore health and urban greenspace through green stormwater infrastructure, and reducing sedimentation and nutrient runoff to improve water quality.

Collectively, the 33 projects receiving grants in 2020 are:

  • Restoring more than 35 miles of stream and riparian habitat
  • Reopening 106 miles of river for fish passage
  • Removing or rectifying 23 barriers to aquatic organism passage
  • Controlling invasive species on 2,800 acres of wetland, upland and riparian habitat
  • Restoring 2,900 acres of wetland habitat
  • Preventing more than 738 tons of sediment from entering waterways annually
  • Adding 6.7 million gallons of stormwater storage capacity
  • Installing more than 43,000 square feet of green stormwater infrastructure

“Sustain Our Great Lakes continues to demonstrate the unique power of public-private partnerships 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 the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which administers the program. “Supported by our new partnership in Wisconsin and the established Sustain Our Great Lakes program, the grants awarded in 2020 represent an even greater investment in critical conservation actions that will help wildlife and human communities thrive. We look forward to continuing to grow this dynamic partnership’s impact across the region through the 2021 funding opportunity announced today.”

“It’s exciting to see how Sustain Our Great Lakes is helping to transform the region for the better,” said Charlie Wooley, Great Lakes regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We are proud to support the partnership and the resulting projects that work to make the Great Lakes cleaner and safer for fish, wildlife and local residents.”

Additionally, the Sustain Our Great Lakes program today announced its 2021 Request for Proposals, which will offer $8.5 million in grant funding to:

  • Restore and enhance stream and riparian habitat
  • Restore and enhance coastal systems
  • Expand green stormwater infrastructure in Great Lakes communities
  • Maintain and enhance benefits of habitat restoration through invasive species control
  • Restore and preserve natural areas and biodiversity in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan watershed
  • New in 2021: Accelerate implementation of conservation practices and regenerative agriculture on working lands

The program also pleased to announce that General Mills will be joining as a new partner in 2021. Support from General Mills, along with continued investment from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will fund projects under the new regenerative agriculture category for the upcoming 2021 grant slate.

Since 2006, Sustain Our Great Lakes has awarded 372 grants worth more than $88 million and leveraged an additional $109 million in matching contributions, generating a total conservation investment of more than $197 million.

The public-private partnership 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 program receives funding and other support from ArcelorMittal, NRCS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, and NOAA.

A portion of the funding awarded in 2020 was made through a new 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:

For a complete list of the grants awarded in 2020, and to learn more about Sustain Our Great Lakes 2021 funding opportunity, including applicant eligibility, funding priorities and submission requirements, visit Follow the program on Twitter (@SOGL) to keep up with the latest Great Lakes news and program announcements.

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 $6.1 billion. Learn more at

About ArcelorMittal
ArcelorMittal is the world's leading steel and mining company, with a presence in 60 countries and primary steelmaking facilities in 18 countries. In 2019, ArcelorMittal had revenues of $70.6 billion and crude steel production of 89.8 million metric tons, while iron ore production reached 57.1 million metric tons. Our goal is to help build a better world with smarter steels. Steels made using innovative processes which use less energy, emit significantly less carbon and reduce costs. Steels that are cleaner, stronger and reusable. Steels for electric vehicles and renewable energy infrastructure that will support societies as they transform through this century. With steel at our core, our inventive people and an entrepreneurial culture at heart, we will support the world in making that change. This is what we believe it takes to be the steel company of the future. For more information about ArcelorMittal please visit  

About the Caerus Foundation
The Caerus Foundation supports organizations and programs that expand educational opportunities for young people, cultivate a more inclusive arts community, preserve the natural world for future generations, and engage communities to alleviate poverty, reduce violence, and build self-sufficiency.  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.  Learn more at

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 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.D.A. Forest Service
Established in 1905, the U.S. 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 Natural Resources Conservation Service
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides one-on-one, personalized advice on the best solutions to meet the unique conservation and business goals of those who grow our nation’s food and fiber.  NRCS helps 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 health of our air, water, and soil. NRCS also generates, manages, and shares the data, research and standards that enable partners and policymakers to make decisions informed by objective, reliable science. In simpler terms, NRCS’s focus is “Helping People Help the Land.” For more information, visit

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 it’s cities and villages better, healthier places to live.
Learn more at and

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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