The Great Lakes are a monumentally unique national treasure containing nearly ninety-five percent of the United States' fresh surface water. Formed by receding glaciers, the Great Lakes support a thriving, resilient ecosystem rich with fish, wildlife, and abundant natural resources. The Great Lakes also support an array of commercial uses, including shipping, and provide a source of recreation, drinking water, and other critical services that drive the economy of the region and the Nation. Regrettably, activities such as clear cutting of mature forests, over-harvesting of fish populations, industrial pollution, invasive species, and agricultural runoffs have degraded these treasured lakes over the decades creating long-term impacts to the surrounding watershed. Fortunately, the people who live, work, and recreate in the region recognize the critical importance of a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem, and have come together to support comprehensive restoration. To stimulate and promote the goal of a healthy Great Lakes region, President Obama and Congress created the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) in 2009. This program provides the seed money to clean up legacy pollution, restore habitats, protect wildlife, combat invasive species, and address agricultural runoff in the Great Lakes watershed. At the same time GLRI promotes public outreach, education, accountability, and partnerships.
Additional publication details
Federal Government Series
Restoring the Great Lakes: DOI stories of success and partnership in implementing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative