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GLRI Results

Focus Areas and Results

Since its start in FY 2010, GLRI has accelerated cleanup of the most polluted Great Lake sites, reduced phosphorous loadings that often cause harmful algal blooms, and helped keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes. Significant work still remains. Federal agencies of the GLRI Regional Working Group continue to focus on Great Lakes restoration through on-the-ground and in-the-water projects which target the most significant environmental problems.

Federal agencies of the GLRI's Regional Working Group are accelerating Great Lakes protection and restoration within each of the GLRI Focus Areas.

Focus Area 1 – Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern (AOCs)

Graph of BUIs Removed Over Time

107 Beneficial Use Impairments have been removed from 30 AOCs. (97 at 28 AOCs since the start of the GLRI in 2010.) Nine BUIs were removed in FY 2021 and one so far in FY 2022. BUI removals in FY 2021 and FY 2022 were at:

Six AOCs have been delisted through December 2021.

Focus Area 2 – Invasive Species

  • GLRI partners implemented invasive species control activities on more than 200,000 acres through FY 2020.
  • GLRI has been central to efforts that keep self-sustaining populations of silver, bighead, and black carp out of the Great Lakes.

Focus Area 3 – Nonpoint Source Pollution Impacts on Nearshore Health

  • The Center for Disease Control awarded GLRI funding for The Harmful Algal Bloom Program at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to develop the state’s first blue-green algae beach signs.
  • Through FY 2020, GLRI has implemented projects resulting in a projected reduction of more than 2 million pounds of phosphorus which contributes to harmful algal blooms around the Great Lakes in priority watersheds.
  • Through FY 2020, GLRI implemented projects that capture more than 375 million gallons of untreated urban runoff annually. These projects increase green space in urban areas, reduce bacterial contamination, and return vacant properties to productive use.

Focus Area 4 – Habitat and Species

  • More than 6,000 river-miles have been cleared for fish passage through FY 2020.
  • More than 460,000 acres of habitat, including over 65,000 acres of coastal wetlands, have been protected, restored or enhanced through FY 2020.
  • In 2020, historic high-water levels and storm events presented significant challenges to continued efforts to increase Great Lakes Piping plover population numbers. Staff from federal agencies, universities, and volunteers met these challenges even during the emergence of COVID-19 to rescue numerous nests and carry out a successful captive rearing program for this species. A record 53 Piping plover eggs were salvaged from clutches, a high rate (85%) of eggs incubated were hatched, and the most captively reared chicks were released in a season (39). These captive rearing efforts continued the momentum necessary to increase numbers that will be found in the Great Lakes for future generations.
  • GLRI partners continue to complete projects focusing on federally-listed endangered, threatened, and candidate Great Lakes aquatic and terrestrial species. Native fish species restoration projects and technical support made available to federal, tribal, and state fisheries agencies has accelerated restoration of Great Lakes commercial and recreational fisheries annually valued at greater than $7 billion.

Focus Area 5 – Foundations for Future Restoration Actions

  • GLRI partners have monitored and assessed the overall health of the Great Lakes, including monitoring of contaminants in Great Lakes fish, water quality and the lower food web in the offshore waters, and excess nutrients and harmful algal blooms in priority areas. This work informs management decisions regarding Great Lakes issues such as fisheries, harmful algal blooms and hypoxia. GLRI partners annually implement coordinated, intensive science and monitoring plans for each Great Lake.
  • Through FY 2020, more than 575,000 youth have been impacted through education and stewardship projects.
Results achieved for the 23 Measures of Progress in the GLRI Action Plan III as of February 28, 2022. Fourteen measures have annual targets; the rest track progress towards long-term goals. EPA provides detailed information in annual Reports to Congress.
Shaded cells display results achieved/targets.Targets met are shown in plain text in green-shaded cells. Targets not met are in italics in red-shaded cells. Cells without numerators and denominators show results for measures that do not have targets.
Measure Baseline/ Universe1 FY19 Result/ Target2 FY20 Result/ Target3 FY21 Result/ Target4 FY22 Result/ Target5
1.1.1. Areas of Concern where all management actions necessary for delisting have been implemented. (Cumulative) B: 12
U: 31
12/17 15/16 16/18 17/19
1.1.2. Beneficial Use Impairments removed in Areas of Concern. (Cumulative) B: 80
U: 225
89/85 97/93 106/101 107/109
1.1.3. Areas of Concern with a complete and approved list of all management actions necessary for delisting. (Cumulative) B: 18
U: 31
19 22/22 24/24 24/26
1.2.1. State and tribal organizations that collect and share information with vulnerable populations regarding the consumption of Great Lakes fish, wildlife, and harvested plant resources. NA NA 9 Available only after fiscal year end reporting. Available only after fiscal year end reporting.
1.3.1. Discrete chemical monitoring and assessment activities conducted. NA NA 15
2.1.1. Rapid responses or exercises conducted. B: 8
37/8 20/8
2.1.2. Projects that manage pathways through which invasive species can be introduced to the Great Lakes ecosystem. B: 16.25 avg.
80 38
2.1.3. Early detection and surveillance activities conducted. B: 12.25
53 14
2.2.1. Aquatic/terrestrial acreage controlled. (Cumulative) B: 153,569
2.3.1. Technologies and methods field tested. (Cumulative) B: 92
105 119
2.3.2. Collaboratives developed/enhanced. (Cumulative) B: 10
16 17
3.1.1. Estimated pounds of phosphorus reductions from conservation practice implementation throughout Great Lakes watersheds. (Cumulative) B: 1,113,603
1,551,605/ 1,070,000 1,776,934/ 1,600,000
3.1.2. Acres receiving technical or financial assistance on nutrient management in priority watersheds. (Cumulative) B: 1,872,485
U: 9,500,000
1,983,329 2,073,262/ 2,200,000
3.2.1. Estimated gallons (in millions) of untreated stormwater runoff captured or treated. (Cumulative) B: 252
274/250 376.8/350
3.2.2. Miles of Great Lakes shoreline and riparian corridors restored or protected. (Cumulative) B: 26
26 34.28/33
3.3.1. Nutrient monitoring and assessment activities conducted. B: 30
NA 31/30
3.3.2. Nutrient or stormwater runoff reduction practices or tools developed or evaluated. B: 10
NA 14/10
4.1.1. Acres of coastal wetland, nearshore, and other habitats restored, protected, or enhanced. (Cumulative) B: 370,488
U: 1,550,000
4.1.2. Miles of connectivity established for aquatic species. (Cumulative) B: 5,289
4.2.1. Species benefited where actions have been completed to significantly protect or promote recovery of populations. (Cumulative) B: 0
NA 1/1
5.1.1. Youth impacted through education and stewardship projects. (Cumulative) B: 377,000
461,654 578,584
5.2.1. Annual Great Lakes monitoring conducted and used to prioritize GLRI funding decisions. NA NA Yes
5.2.2. Identify and address science priorities to support implementation of GLRI and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. NA NA Yes
1 Baselines for cumulative measures identify results through FY 2018 or, for Measure 3.1.1, FY 2017. Baselines for non-cumulative measures identify regularly expected annual results. The measure 3.1.2 baseline and universe now exclude acreage outside Great Lakes priority watersheds.
2 The FY19 column includes results and, if applicable, targets from Action Plan II measures and for other cumulative Action Plan III measures.
3 The FY20 column identifies targets and results through September 30, 2021 for the GLRI Action Plan III measures.
4 The FY21 column includes targets and results for AOC measures (1.1.1, 1.1.2, and 1.1.3) through September 30, 2021. Results for other measures will be reported after they have been compiled. 
5 The FY22 column includes targets for AOC measures (1.1.1, 1.1.2, and 1.1.3) and results through February 28, 2022 - additional FY22 results for these measures may still be achieved. Results for other measures will be reported after the fiscal year ends.