Skip to main content


Focus Areas and Results

Since its start in FY 2010, GLRI has accelerated cleanup of the most polluted Great Lakes sites, reduced phosphorus loadings that often cause harmful algal blooms, and helped keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes. However, significant work still remains. The Federal agencies of the GLRI’s 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.

GLRI results are reported in Reports to Congress and the President.

Under the first GLRI Action Plan, covering fiscal years 2010-2014, federal agencies met or exceeded 72% of the applicable targets that had been established.

Under the first four years of the second GLRI Action Plan, covering fiscal years 2015-2019, federal agencies thus far met or exceeded 92% of the applicable targets that had been established.

GLRI Action Plan II Measures

See the projects that are funded each year

Key accomplishments

Federal agencies of the GLRI's Regional Working Group are accelerating Great Lakes protection and restoration within each of the GLRI Focus Areas. As of October 2018:

Focus Area 1 – Toxic Substances and Areas of Concern

Menominee River AOC restoration
City of Marinette and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources pursue restoration at Menekaunee Harbor.

  • Since 2010, the Presque Isle, PA; Deer Lake, MI; and White Lake, MI Areas of Concern (AOCs) have been delisted. In addition, federal agencies and their partners have completed the cleanup and restoration actions necessary for delisting eight additional AOCs, including one in FY 2018: Rochester Embayment, NY.  
  • Since 2010, a total of 70 Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs), at 24 AOCs in the eight Great Lakes States, have been removed, seven times the total number of BUIs removed in the preceding 22 years. Seven BUIs were removed in FY 2018 at:
    • Cuyahoga River (OH);
    • St. Mary’s River (MI);
    • Waukegan Harbor (IL);
    • Ashtabula River (OH);
    • Lower Menominee River (MI/WI);
    • Rochester Embayment (NY); and
    • Buffalo River (NY)
  • Since 2010, over 4 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment (over 48,000 in FY 2018) has been remediated through GLRI-associated projects.

Focus Area 2 – Invasive Species

Unified Fishing Method
Illinois Department of Natural Resources deploys Unified Fishing Method in a pilot project.

  • Since 2010, GLRI partners implemented invasive species control activities on over 148,000 acres (more than 14,000 acres in FY 2018).
  • 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

planting native trees
Local volunteers plant native trees to improve stormwater flow on Mill Creek in Ohio.

  • Since 2015, GLRI has implemented projects that have resulted in a projected reduction of over 1.1 million pounds of phosphorus (over 340,000 in FY 2018) which contributes to harmful algal blooms around the Great Lakes in priority watersheds.
  • In 2018, EPA worked with 4 federal agencies and 5 states to finalize Lake Erie phosphorus reduction plans toward meeting a binational 40 percent phosphorus reduction target.

Focus Area 4 – Habitat and Species

woman showing wild rice plant growing
Nottawaseppi Huron Band transplanted over 1,100 wild rice root masses to the Pine Creek Indian Reservation.

  • Since 2010, more than 5,200 river-miles (over 320 in FY 2018) have been cleared for fish passage.
  • Since 2010, more than 370,000 acres of habitat (over 140,000 in FY 2018), including coastal wetlands, have been protected, restored or enhanced.
  • Since 2015, 31 projects (7 in FY 2018) focusing on federally-listed endangered, threatened, and candidate Great Lakes aquatic and terrestrial species have been completed in the Great Lakes. 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

overhead view of dam
Selective Fish Passage site at Union Street Dam in Traverse City, Michigan

  • GLRI partners have assessed Great Lakes ecosystem health and tracked ecosystem changes, including intensive monitoring on Lake Ontario, to improve decisions regarding harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, plankton and benthic communities, key nearshore zone issues, contaminant trends, target setting, resource allocations, and control options GLRI partners annually implement coordinated, intensive science and monitoring plans for each Great Lake.
  • In FY 2018, over 900 educators were given hands-on training in Great Lakes-based education and stewardship. These educators will reach an average of over 35,000 students annually.