Great Lakes Region

The health of the Great Lakes depends on the health of the entire ecosystem: the Great Lakes themselves, plus coastline, wetlands, rivers, watersheds, and the flora and fauna that call these places home. Many opportunities exist to protect and restore critical ecosystem elements even as we strive to improve our understanding of emerging issues and their impacts. Toward this end, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has made habitat and species protection one of its five priorities.


Read on to learn more about NOAA’s Habitat and Wildlife Protection and Restoration projects:


Mashek Creek, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. Acquired through CELCP.

Coastal Land Conservation in the Great Lakes

The Coastal Land Conservation project will support coastal partners to permanently protect high priority coastal habitats within the Great Lakes watershed.  Great Lakes habitat protection will be accomplished via two existing NOAA land protection programs:  the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) and the Great Lakes Areas of Concern Land Acquisition Program.  Both programs are administered in partnership with Great Lakes state Coastal Zone Management programs.

NOAA’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) preserves and protects habitats with exceptional ecological, historical, and recreational value. CELCP was established in 2002 as a nationwide program to assist local and state agencies with protecting and conserving important coastal and estuarine habitats. GLRI funding has enabled CELCP to expand protection of vital Great Lakes coastal and estuarine habitat. To date, 535 acres of pristine Great Lakes coastal land has been permanently protected through the GLRI’s supplemental funding to the CELCP.

The Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC) Land Acquisition Project is modeled after the CELCP program.  However, instead of solely focusing on ecologically intact habitat, the AOC Land Acquisition Project also targets areas that are high priority for habitat restoration.  The Land Acquisition Project provides GLRI funds so that state and local agencies can purchase land in AOCs.  Acquiring damaged habitat is the first step in establishing a pipeline of GLRI-supported restoration projects, which specifically work to remove habitat-related beneficial use impairments (BUIs).

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