Oct 13, 2008

Local Groups Restoring Great Lakes

Past grant recipients to be highlighted at Healing Our Waters conference

Community groups continue to work on small but critical Great Lakes restoration projects this year, not content to wait for Congress to authorize funding for a sweeping restoration plan put forth by Great Lakes experts and leaders nearly two years ago.The Alliance for the Great Lakes awarded $5,000 in mini-grants, funded by the Joyce Foundation, to two members of its Partner Network in June--funds the groups were able to increase many times over by forming a variety of creative partnerships.Through the years, grant recipients have reported significant progress on projects ranging from streambank restoration to fish-stocking to improved storm water management strategies. These projects will be highlighted during the annual Healing Our Waters conference that kicks off Oct. 16 in Chicago:2004: A Few Friends for the Environment of the World Rain Garden Project.Fearing changing land use could harm a Mason County, Mich., trout stream, an environmental group partnered with residents on a rain garden project that offered an alternative to traditional storm water management techniques.2005: Perch America Wolf Lake Walleye-Stocking Program.The damage to native fisheries caused by invasive species, habitat destruction and pollution has been the impetus behind Perch America's work with Indiana regulators on a Wolf Lake walleye-stocking program since 1998. The annual program, carried out in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, has two goals: enhance native fisheries in Wolf Lake and maintain the presence of a strong predator fish that can feed on the round goby and other damaging invasive species.2006: Friends of the Boyne River Streambank Stabilization Project.A well-loved and well-worn fishing spot in northern Michigan received a boost from a $50,000 streambank stabilization project that maintains public access while improving fish and wildlife habitat. Situated at the mouth of the Boyne River, Old City Park was experiencing continued erosion because of its popularity as a fishing spot, and the crumbling streambank was sending sediment into the river, harming fish and wildlife habitat. Friends of the Boyne River launched a fundraising campaign for the stabilization project and sought out a variety of potential funding sources and partnerships to raise the $50,000 needed to carry out the project. More than 40 volunteers participated.2007: River Revitalization Foundation River Corridor Restoration Project.Working with urban youth during the summer of 2007, the River Revitalization Foundation restored native habitats between Gordon Park and Riverside Park along the Milwaukee River. The foundation met its primary goals of removing invasive plant species and replacing them with native species and educating minority youth about the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan Basin.2007: Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers Storm Water Runoff Reduction Project.Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers partnered with two other groups on a model storm water demonstration project in the Johnson's Park Neighborhood that involved retrofitting a city block with sustainable storm water management strategies. Disconnecting downspouts and redirecting the runoff into rain gardens and rain barrels, the project reduces the flow of storm water into the city's combined storm and sanitary sewer system and, in turn, curbs the number of sewage overflows into rivers and Lake Michigan after heavy rainfalls.