Great Lakes Region

Marine Debris in the Manistique Area of Concern

NOAA’s Restoration Center’s work in the Great Lakes is focused on supporting community-identified restoration priorities in Areas of Concern—environmentally degraded areas within the Great Lakes basin. The Restoration Center has carried out numerous projects in past years funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative with the aim of improving fish passage, cleaning up marine debris, restoring coastal wetlands, and removing invasive species.


FY2015 Projects

Projects TBD

FY2014 Projects
  • Black River Landing and Heron Rookery Restoration Project (Lorain, OH) - $1,347,644 awarded to the City of Lorain:  The main goal of this project is to restore the physical conditions of the Black River’s riverbank and aquatic habitat to benefit fish and other species by stabilizing the stream bank and restoring in-stream habitat.
  • Lower Black River Heron Rookery Restoration Phase II Assessment (Lorain, OH) - $175,000 awarded to the City of Lorain: Experts will determine the presence and extent of any subsurface contamination and make recommendations for restoration of a six-acre riverside area to natural conditions.  Once restored, this area will be suitable for nesting herons and other birds. In addition, the proposed restoration will expand the floodplain area that is connected to the Black River, providing important water quality benefits to aquatic plants and animals.
  • The Howard Farms Habitat Restoration Phase II Project in the Maumee AOC (Toledo, OH) - $1,488,944 awarded to Ducks Unlimited: Funding will support the completion of critical infrastructure improvements (e.g. levees, water control structures, pumps, fish passage structure) that were initiated with Phase I of the project. The overall goal of the project is to restore 568 acres of coastal wetlands which will also restore hydrologic exchange, fish access and wetland & upland habitat on the Howard Farms property.
  •  Black Creek Marsh Coastal Wetland Restoration Project (St. Clair, MI) - $648,000 awarded to the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority: This project will reconnect the Black Creek Marsh with Clinton River, restoring marsh habitat and increasing the diversity and abundance of fish species and other wildlife. The project will also increase recreational opportunities within the Lake St. Clair Metropark.
  •  Marine Debris Removal and Prevention on Belle Isle (Detroit, MI) - $50,000 awarded to the Alliance for the Great Lakes: The Alliance will remove 250 tons of debris from the shoreline and will work with over 500 volunteers on local shoreline cleanup efforts.  Funding for this project is provided by both GLRI and the National Ocean Service’s Marine Debris Program.
  •  Hydrological analysis and pre-design of Belle Isle’s Lake Okonoka for Habitat Enhancements (Detroit, MI) -$319,692 awarded to the Friends of the Detroit River: A hydrologic analysis, feasibility study and pre-design work will be conducted to complete two important restoration projects: Belle Isle forested wetland restoration and Lake Okonoka reconnection and shoreline restoration. Once implemented, these projects will restore nearly 300 acres of habitat.
  •  Clinton River Spillway Restoration – Phase I Implementation Project (Detroit, MI) - $2,511,800 awarded to the Macomb County Public Works Office: This project will restore four areas within the spillway corridor including replacing an existing concrete rubble shoreline with a living shoreline and addressing invasive species. This project builds off of a previously funded GLRI award that supported the engineering and design of the restoration project.
  •  Muskegon Lake Habitat Restoration Project (Muskegon, MI) - $5,966,500 awarded to Great Lakes Commission and working with local partners including the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission: This project will remove mill debris from Muskegon Lake, restore open water conditions, and improve fish and wildlife habitat at several sites including the Veterans Memorial Park. The project builds off of a previously funded GLRI award that supported the engineering and design of the restoration needed.
  •  Chambers Grove Spawning Habitat Enhancement and Shoreline Restoration Project (Duluth, MN) - $400,000 awarded to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources):  This project will remove 800 feet of hardened shoreline in a critical spawning area of the St. Louis River estuary. This will help to restore the natural function of the shoreline and to re-establish spawning habitat for lake sturgeon, walleye, and smallmouth bass.
  •  Buffalo River AOC Habitat Restoration Project (Buffalo, NY) - $2,919,053 awarded to the Great Lakes Commission and working with local partners including the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper: This project will support the implementation of the Riverfest Park and Blue Tower Turning Basin and support the engineering and design of several additional sites needed to improve habitat in the Buffalo River Area of Concern.
  •  Stream and Wetland Restoration in the Ulao Creek Milwaukee Estuary AOC Project (Milwaukee, WI) - $692,626 awarded to Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department: This project will restore high quality spawning, rearing, and nursery habitat for fish and wildlife including important recreational species such as northern pike, walleye and white sucker which have been diminished due to former habitat fragmentation.
  •  Kinnickinnic River Stream and Habitat Rehabilitation Project (Milwaukee, WI) – $200,000 awarded to Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District: This project will determine the best means to restore lost habitat and improve water quality along nearly 5,000 feet of riverbank on the Lower Kinnickinnic River. Once completed, the restoration will benefit up to 39 species of fish from Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern.


FY2013 Projects
  • Buffalo River Area of Concern Habitat Restoration Project (Buffalo, NY) - $1,762,000: This project will implement the Riverbend Phase II habitat restoration and prepare design plans for Old Bailey Woods and adjacent parcels, Blue Tower Turning Basin, and River Fest Park. Implementing these projects will improve the overall health of the ecosystem and directly contribute to the removal of the degradation of fish and wildlife populations and loss of fish and wildlife habitat BUIs, ultimately delisting the AOC.
  • Howard Farms coastal wetland habitat in Ohio’s western Lake Erie basin - $383,329: Through a regional partnership with Ducks Unlimited, this project will restore coastal wetland habitat in Ohio’s western Lake Erie basin and is the largest farmland-to-coastal wetland restoration in the western Lake Erie watershed in many decades. This project will be funded over multiple years, and once fully implemented, at least 2,500 feet of natural stream channel and 980 acres of associated wetland and upland habitats will be restored to the historic Cedar Creek riverbed. More than 28 fish species will benefit from restoring and reconnecting these coastal marshes to Lake Erie.
  • Menomonee River Fish Barrier Removal Project (Menomonee, MI) - $142,100: The NOAA funding will be used to complete the design necessary for the removal and restoration of five fish passage barriers along the Menomonee River. Each barrier completely spans the river channel.
  • Develop the engineering design of habitat restoration on two islands in the Detroit River Area of Concern (Detroit, MI) -$480,692: The proposed project will conduct a comprehensive investigation of the sediment quality in the areas of the proposed restoration; develop alternative approaches to construction [due to possible results from the sediment analysis a “do Nothing” alternative will also be included]; perform an evaluation of the alternatives involving local stakeholders, MDNR, MDEQ and NOAA; select a preferred alternative; finalize design, and produce shovel-ready design documents.
  • Rouge Oxbow Restoration Project – Phase III Design (Dearborn, MI) - $256,272: This is the final phase in the restoration of the Oxbow at the Henry Ford. The design will hydraulically reconnect the oxbow to the Rouge River and continue habitat restoration that wasbegun under Phase I in 2003. This will be accomplished by removing the existing fill berm and removing a portion of the existing concrete channel.The design will modify the riverbank and include bioengineering techniques, riparian habitat creation, slope stabilization, and site access. Of equal importance is construction of appropriate hydraulic structures at the oxbow channel inlet and outlet that breach the existing earthen berm and provide an open hydraulic connection that can withstand the high velocities associated with flood flows and will contain the 100-year storm.
  • St. Louis River Restoration Initiative Implementation in Radio Tower Bay Phase II (Duluth, MN) - $1,500,000: Additional phase to a project funded in FY10 that will include the removal of additional debris and restoration of benthos and enhance aesthetics and access; to provide an overall improvement to fisheries habitat and increase recreational fishering opportunities.
  • St Marys/Little Rapids Habitat Restoration Project (St Marys River, MI) - $6,000,000: This project will restore water flow to historic rapids habitat in the St. Mary’s River through the re-design and replacement of an existing causeway which is presently constricting flow. Implementation of this project is the last remaining restoration action needed to remove the AOC’s habitat-related beneficial use impairments (BUIs) and is an important step in delisting the AOC. This project builds off of a previously funded GLRI award that supported the engineering and design of the restoration project.

FY 2012 Projects
  • Marine Debris Removal and Prevention on Belle Isle (Belle Isle, MI) – $50,000: Alliance for the Great Lakes will remove 375 tons of non-accumulating debris and naturalize 72 linear feet of shoreline and coastal wetland with native plants and natural rock in the Detroit River Area of Concern.  This project will improve habitat for native fish species including muskellunge, smallmouth bass, and walleye.  Funding for this project is provided by both GLRI and the National Ocean Service’s Marine Debris Program.
  • Upper St. Clair River Habitat Restoration (Port Huron, MI) - $2,000,000: The Community Foundation of St. Clair County will restore 4,300 feet of shoreline by removing 700 feet of seawall and 2,600 tons of debris, will construct 0.75 acres of native fish spawning habitat, and will construct 1.75 acres of shallow water nursery habitat in the St. Clair River Area of Concern.  This project will benefit native fish species including lake sturgeon, lake whitefish, and walleye.
  • Restoring hydrologic connectivity, fish passage and coastal marsh at Ottawa NWR in the Maumee River AOC (Toledo, OH) - $700,000: Ducks Unlimited will restore hydrologic exchange and fish passage to Lake Erie for 1,460 acres of emergent wetland habitat in the Maumee River Area of Concern.  This project will benefit the Lake Erie nearshore native fish community and other wetland dependent wildlife.
  • Restoring Fish Passage in the Red Run Headwaters (Troy, MI) - $985,000: The City of Troy, Michigan will remove the Aquatic Center Pond Dam, replace two failed metal culverts with concrete box culverts, and reestablish over three acres of native riparian vegetation buffer in the Red Run Drain.  The project will restore over 1,400 acres of stream channel and reconnect 1.7 miles of headwater tributaries to the lower Lane Drain in the Clinton River Area of Concern.
  • Invasive Vegetation Control in the Lower Black River Area of Concern (Lorain, OH) - $925,000: Lorain County will remove invasive plant species throughout the lower Black River riparian area in Black River Area of Concern. Both chemical treatment and manual removal methods will be used over a two year time period to control invasive vegetation that is widespread within the project corridor. Native shrub species will be planted within the project area once the invasive species have been removed. Twenty seasonal employees will be hired by the project. These employees will be local unemployed residents of the county.
  • Maumee Corps: Putting People to Work Restoring Habitat in the Maumee AOC (Toledo, OH) - $800,000: The Maumee Corps will be a team of seasonal, part-time, and full-time workers focused on habitat restoration in the Maumee Area of Concern.  The primary role of the Maumee Corps will be invasive vegetation removal using prescribed burns, herbicide treatment with backpack sprayers, and mechanical removal using loppers, pruners and mowers.  In total, the Maumee Corps is expected to support 26 seasonal, part-time, temporary and/or full time positions.  It is anticipated that when all of these projects are completed, more than 1000 acres of habitat will be improved.
  • Marine Debris Removal in the Manistique River Area of Concern (Manistique, MI) - $850,000: This project will determine the most appropriate restoration techniques to remove sawmill debris and associated contaminants in the Manistique River Area of Concern.  Upon implementation of the recommended restoration techniques, this project will ultimately result in delisting the Area of Concern.


FY 2011 Projects
  • Wayne Road Dam Removal and Habitat Improvement Project (Wayne, MI) – $1 million: The Alliance of Rouge Communities will remove the Wayne Road Dam. This will restore fish passage to migratory species such as salmon, walleye, northern pike and small mouth bass, and improve shoreline habitat. It will also reconnect 22 miles of the Rouge River with the Great Lakes.
  • Lower Black River Habitat Restoration (Lorain, OH) – $1 million:  In the second phase of this project, the city of Lorain, Ohio will build more than 2,800 feet of habitat for walleye, smallmouth bass, and northern pike. This project will also restore up to two acres of riparian habitat, and will remove more than 45,000 cubic yards of recyclable steel mill slag in the Black River, a tributary to Lake Erie.
  • Muskegon Lake Hydrologic Reconnection and Mill Debris Removal (Muskegon, MI) – $313,000: The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission will develop designs for a project that will soften 2,850 feet of shoreline, restore up to 126 acres of floodplains and emergent wetlands, and remove more than 197,000 metric tons of unnatural lake fill debris. Once implemented, these restoration actions will fulfill the remaining 51% of habitat-related beneficial use impairments in the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern.
  • Clinton River Spillway and Fish Habitat Restoration (Clinton Township, MI) – $340,000: Macomb County will develop plans to improve fish passage along two miles of restored channel, directly connecting nearly 200 acres of river corridor to Lake St. Clair.
  • Buffalo River RiverBend Habitat Restoration project (Buffalo, NY) – $167,000: Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper will develop plans to restore and soften 1,520 feet of river shoreline. Implementation of these actions will complete half of the actions needed for  removal of habitat-related beneficial use impairments in the Buffalo River Area of Concern.
  • Lower Black River Fish Habitat Restoration Project (Lorain, OH) – $350,000:  In the third phase of this project, the city of Lorain, Ohio will develop plans to build shallow underwater rocky fish habitat shelves, totaling more than 1,600 feet of new habitat for walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike and longnose gar in the Black River, a tributary to Lake Erie.
  • Habitat Restoration in the Maumee Area of Concern (Oak Harbor, OH) – $1.3 million: The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will restore and enhance 512 acres of critical coastal wetland and marsh habitat within Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. The project will reconnect 127 acres of wetlands to Lake Erie.
  • Little Rapids Habitat Restoration Project (Sault St. Marie, MI) – $348,000: The Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning & Development Commission will develop plans to modify the Sugar Island causeway to restore flow to 10 acres of pre-existing rapids habitat in the St. Marys River.  This will serve as important spawning and nursery habitat for species such as lake whitefish, lake sturgeon, and walleye. Once implemented, this project will address half of the actions needed to remove the two fish-related beneficial use impairments in the St. Marys River Area of Concern.


FY 2010 Projects
  • Removal of the Campbellsport Millpond Dam (Campbellsport, Wis.) – $684,000 – The Village of Campbellsport will remove the Millpond Dam, opening fish passage throughout the uppermost 25 miles of the Milwaukee River and restoring approximately 22 acres of wetland and 3,000 feet of free-flowing river.
  • Erie Marsh Preserve Coastal Wetland Restoration Project (Erie, Mich.) – $2.5 million –The Nature Conservancy will construct and improve levees, water distribution canals, and water control structures; install a new water supply system; and build a fish passage structure. This will increase the quality and diversity of approximately 258 acres of coastal wetlands and provide additional fish spawning and rearing habitat.
  • Fordson Island Oxbow Restoration and Debris Removal (Detroit, Mich.) – $150,000 – Detroit Wayne County Port Authority will remove 15 metric tons of shoreline debris in and around Fordson Island. The island, located in the Rouge River just upstream of the Detroit River, is uniquely positioned as a refuge for fish and wildlife.  Funding for this project is provided by both GLRI and the National Ocean Service’s Marine Debris Program.
  • Lower Black River Fish Habitat Restoration Project (Lorain, Ohio) – $1.7 million – The City of Lorain, Ohio will build two fish habitat shelves, totaling more than 3,000 feet of new fish habitat, in the Black River, a tributary to Lake Erie.
  • Restoring Lake Erie Hydrology and Coastal Marsh (Middle Harbor, Ohio) – $643,000 – Ducks Unlimited will install a culvert to establish fish access and restore the water connection to Lake Erie. At least 350 acres of submerged aquatic grasses and other native vegetation will be planted, which will provide natural and long-term flood control in the marsh.
  • Radio Tower Bay Restoration Project (Duluth, Minn.) – $665,000 – In the first phase of this project, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and its partner, the Minnesota Land Trust, will remove marine debris, including 460 derelict pilings, from Radio Tower Bay.
  • Restoring Native Fish Spawning Habitat in the St. Clair River Delta (St. Clair, Mich.) – $890,000 – Michigan Sea Grant will construct 40,000 square feet of native fish spawning habitat in the St. Clair River and connect spawning habitat to almost 14 square miles of rich, underutilized nursery area in the St. Clair delta.
  • Coastal Fisheries Habitat Restoration in the St. Lawrence River (Watertown and Alexandria Bay, N.Y.) – $1 million – As part of an on-going restoration effort, Ducks Unlimited will install fish passage and excavate river channels at three locations in the upper St. Lawrence River watershed in New York. The project will restore and enhance 110 acres of marsh ecosystem and fish spawning habitat.
  • Watervliet Dams Removal in the Paw Paw River (Berrien, Mich.) – $920,000 –The Berrien County, Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, will remove two concrete dams, restoring fish passage to more than 172 river miles, including 31 miles of the mainstem Paw Paw River, to Lake Michigan.


Habitat Restoration Partnerships

Through the Restoration Center NOAA maintains strong working relationships in the Great Lakes region with a number of non-profit organizations and governmental entities including the Great Lakes Commission, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation. Through these partnerships, NOAA assists with restoration project design and engineering, on-the-ground restoration work, and project evaluation to inform future restoration efforts. Several of the projects are supported by Great lakes Restoration Initiative funds.


FY 2012 Partnership projects
  • The Nature Conservancy – Inventory and prioritization of habitat restoration projects in the Maumee River AOC – $170,000: This project will develop and refine a spatially-explicit inventory of current and potential restoration projects in the Maumee River Area of Concern to help predict, prioritize, and track restoration projects and outcomes.
  • The Nature Conservancy – Great Lakes western Lake Erie Basin geodatabase and pilot project – $200,000: The Nature Conservancy and NOAA, along with the United States Geological Survey, University of Michigan-Dearborn, and other partners, will work to map coastal wetlands (i.e., connected), diked wetlands (i.e., disconnected) and former wetlands (e.g., drained and converted agricultural lands) within the Western Lake Erie Area of Concern landscape (i.e., Detroit River to Black River AOCs, with a focus on Maumee AOC).
  • Ducks Unlimited – Crow Island State Game Area Marsh Enhancement – Topographic Survey and Engineering Design – $61,000: This project will provide the topographic survey and engineering designs that, when implemented, will significantly enhance management capability and productivity to 1,250 acres of Saginaw River emergent wetlands.  This project is located in the Saginaw River/Bay Area of Concern and, when implemented, is expected to make significant progress toward the delisting of at least three Beneficial Use Impairments.
  • Ducks Unlimited – Refining and updating the wetland protection status in the Saginaw Bay Coastal Plain – $24,000: Using GIS software, the National Wetlands Inventory, and several years of aerial photography Ducks Unlimited will complete a report that describes changes in the number, extent, and distribution of wetlands in the Saginaw Bay Area of Concern through time.  The report will document the change in the extent of existing high quality wetlands within the Saginaw Bay Coastal Plain over the past 10 years. This work will assist in efforts to remove fish and wildlife beneficial use impairments within this AOC and to help identify additional restoration opportunities within the Coastal Plain.
  • Ducks Unlimited – Coordination with Areas of Concern to identify wetland restoration, wetland protection, and wetland assessment projects leading to delisting of beneficial use impairments – $20,000: Ducks Unlimited (DU) will coordinate with selected priority Area of Concern (AOC) implementation groups to identify wetland restoration, protection, and assessment projects that, when implemented, will help lead to the delisting of Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) in those AOCs.  DU and NOAA have jointly determined three AOCs to be of shared interest: Saginaw River and Bay, Maumee River, and Muskegon Lake.
  • Ducks Unlimited – Ford Marsh Restoration – $333,000: This project will provide water management capabilities that allow for enhancement and long-term management of 175 acres of coastal emergent wetland habitat.  Ford Marsh represents some of the last remaining coastal wetland habitat in the western basin of Lake Erie and its enhancement and long-term management will make a valuable contribution to the delisting of the River Raisin Area of Concern (AOC) while adding significant value to a growing complex of protected, restored, and managed habitat along western Lake Erie.
  • Ducks Unlimited – Braddock Bay Coastal Restoration – $350,000: Located in the Rochester Embayment AOC, this project will reduce invasive cattail densities and restore natural wetland function to a 630 acre portion of Braddock Bay through the development of 6,000 linear feet of meandering channels and up to 2 acres of open water potholes.
  • Ducks Unlimited – Bosma Tract survey and design – $50,000: Ducks Unlimited will complete a topographic survey and engineering design of the Bosma Tract, located within the Muskegon Lake AOC, to determine the cost and restoration techniques that can be used to hydrologically restore 80 acres along the north shore.  This property was formally emergent/riparian wetlands but was drained and converted to celery production.
  • National Wildlife Federation – Climate Smart Restoration – $400,000: The National Wildlife Federation will provide technical assistance to select grantees on how they can make proposed restoration projects more resilient to potential climate change impacts. NWF is also developing a Great Lakes guidance document related to how to make restoration projects climate smart.


FY 2011 Partnership projects
  • The Nature Conservancy – Monitoring at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge – $30,000: In collaboration with the Maumee Area of Concern and other partners, The Nature Conservancy will initiate pre and post restoration monitoring at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
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