Great Lakes Region

Houghton Falls, Wisconsin. Credit: T. Olson

Although the Great Lakes face many challenges, the region is fortunate to have thousands of acres of coastal and wetland habitat that possess exceptional ecological, historical, and recreational value.  Several of these land areas have been protected for decades—among them Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, Porcupine Mountains State Park, Superior National Forest, and many others.

NOAA’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) seeks to preserve extraordinary habitat that faces development, contamination, or other threats.  CELCP is a competitive grants process that provides state and local governments with matching funds to purchase significant coastal and estuarine lands, or conservation easements on such lands, from willing sellers.  Lands or conservation easements acquired through CELCP are protected in perpetuity so that they may be enjoyed by future generations.  The impact has been great: since 2002, over 75,000 acres of coastal habitat across the United States has been conserved, including more than 7,500 acres of Great Lakes coastal habitat.

GLRI: Bolstering CELCP

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has significantly enhanced CELCP’s ability to protect vital Great Lakes coastal and estuarine habitat.  Thanks to the GLRI and assistance of state agencies, local organizations, and private landowners, six properties (and 535 acres) have been successfully and permanently preserved through the GLRI supplemental to the CELCP program.  Several additional GLRI-supported projects are ongoing.


Frog Bay Tribal National Park’s Lake Superior beach, November 2011. Credit: Feldman.

CELCP Highlight: Frog Bay Tribal National Park

Frog Bay Tribal National Park, located near Bayfield, Wisconsin, celebrated its grand opening on August 3, 2012 and drew media attention from across the Great Lakes region.  Encompassing 88 acres of primordial boreal forest in the far northern reaches of the state, the park includes a one-quarter-mile stretch of uninhabited and pristine Lake Superior beach.

The land that now comprises the national park had long been privately owned, and its 94-year-old owner wanted to see the land preserved.  However, neither the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, for whom the land holds tremendous cultural and spiritual import, nor the Bayfield Regional Conservancy (BRC) could afford to purchase the land outright.  At the same time, the owner could not afford to donate the full property.  A matching investment of $488,000 in CELCP funds, along with a partial donation from the land’s former owner, enabled the Red Cliff tribe to acquire the land.  The BRC holds the conservation easement.

Frog Bay Tribal National Park forest and beach, November 2011. Credit: Feldman.

The creation of Frog Bay Tribal National Park has been a success story in every way.  It is an ecological gem, home to nearly 90 species of birds; rare and endangered plants; and bobcats, black bears, and wolves.  It has allowed the Red Cliff community to retrieve a rich part of its history and preserve cultural traditions.  It also the first tribal national park to be open to the public.

GLRI funding: a year-by-year breakdown

In FY 2010, CELCP was awarded $4,500,000  through GLRI.  This funding supported a competitive grants process that protected coastal habitat in five areas in the Great Lakes:

  • Bete Grise Wetlands, Michigan
  • Houghton Falls, Wisconsin

    Lake Erie Bluffs, Perry Township, Ohio. Credit: L. Mountz.

  • Kelleys Island Preserve, Ohio
  • Mashek Creek, Wisconsin
  • Lake Erie Bluff Preservation Project (Part I), Ohio

In FY 2011, CELCP was awarded $949,244 through GLRI.  Funding supported three projects:

  • Frog Bay Tribal National Park, Wisconsin
  • Lost Creek Watershed, Wisconsin
  • Lake Erie Bluff Preservation (Part II), Ohio


In FY 2012, CELCP funding of $2,019,107 supported Phase III of the Lake Erie Bluff Preservation in Ohio.


In FY 2013, CELCP funding of $801,800 through GLRI supported the acquisition of the Moon Valley parcel by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.


In FY 2014, CELCP was awarded $1,330,316.  Projects have not yet been selected.


For more information:

Elizabeth Mountz, Coastal Management Specialist
NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management
Phone:  (301) 563-1148
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