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US Forest Service awards $3M in grants to protect Great Lakes

Grants for trees and clean water go to projects in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Illinois, Indiana

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2012 – The U.S. Forest Service announced today nearly $3 million in grants to improve tree canopy, forest cover and ultimately, water quality in six Great Lakes states, including Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Illinois and Indiana.

The grants are part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a cooperative effort between federal, tribal, state and local partners. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades.

"The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will improve the environmental health and economic vitality of the world's largest freshwater system," said USDA Undersecretary Harris Sherman. "The Forest Service, together with our partners, is working to improve America's treasured landscapes in more than 7,000 communities across the country."

The U.S. EPA-funded grants administered by the Forest Service will support community forestry efforts to improve the interception, evaporation, infiltration and storage of rainfall and storm water.

"Healthy forests and lands support healthy waters," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "These projects will put people to work increasing the number of trees, turning polluted industrial sites into beautiful parkland and improving habitat for wildlife."

A task force of 11 federal agencies is cleaning up toxins and areas of concern, combating invasive species, promoting near-shore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off and restoring wetlands and other habitats.

The awardees are:


  • $50,000 - The Maumee River Urban Tree Canopy Restoration Project

Toledo Area MetroParks, in partnership with the City of Toledo and Ohio Department of Natural Resources, will plant 250 trees for wildlife habitat and erosion control along the Maumee River, on 37.5 acres of land formerly used for industrial purposes.

  • $250,000 - Lower Black River Heron Rookery Restoration Project

The City of Lorain will plant 500 native trees and other vegetation to restore tree cover and improve fish and wildlife habitat on four acres of industrial wasteland adjacent to an active heron rookery.

  • $250,000 - Phytoremediation of the Maumee River Watershed Project

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will work with the City of Toledo and University of Toledo to remediate 32 acres of old industrial sites, including the planting of 145 trees and the installation of 12 rain gardens and bioswales along the Maumee River.


  • $50,000 - The Detroit Green Connections Project

The Greening of Detroit will employ 10 young adults to plant 600 trees and supervise the planting of another 4,200 trees over a two year period, to reduce and slow stormwater runoff in the Detroit and Rouge River Watersheds.

  • $250,000 - The Detroit Reforestation Initiative

The Greening of Detroit will plant and maintain more than 1,400 trees in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck communities that have lost 100 percent of their ash tree population to the emerald ash borer infestation.

  • $70,000 - The Grand River Ash Tree Protection and Restoration Initiative

The Friends of Grand Rapids Parks will plant 500 trees in public parks along the Grand River. The trees will maintain riparian buffers and tree canopy cover that will minimize the impact of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer.

  • $132,274 - The Tree Canopy Restoration on Sault Tribe Lands

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians will restore 244 acres of trees lost to emerald ash borer along the Manistique and St. Mary's Rivers in Chippewa and Schoolcraft Counties.

  • $250,000 - The Greening of Chevy in the Hole project

The City of Flint will plant an additional 1,200 trees on 12 acres of post-industrial land abutting the Flint River, to manage stormwater on site and contribute to the uptake and degradation of toxic substances.

  • $197,437 - Reducing Contamination using Hybrid Poplar in Lake Michigan Watersheds

The Delta Institute will establish and monitor the economic and environmental benefits of hybrid poplar tree farms, with the planting of more than 3,600 trees on one or more brownfield sites totaling five acres in multiple lower peninsula sites around Lake Michigan.


  • $48,399 - First Downs for Trees

This unique partnership between the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Oneida Nation, and the communities of Brown County will result in planting more than 1,300 trees to intercept and slow millions of gallons of annual stormwater runoff over the coming years.

  • $163,907 - Chequamegon Bay Shoreland Restoration

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will work with the City of Ashland to monitor and report on the ecosystem benefits of planting 240 native trees and other vegetation to mitigate the impacts of an expanded US Hwy 2.

New York

  • $77,958 - Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation Project

The town of Greece will plant 200 trees to replace those lost to emerald ash borer and to slow stormwater runoff into Lake Ontario.


  • $250,000 - Mayors Mitigating Emerald Ash Borer Impacts in the Chicago Region

The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus will fund Great Lakes communities in Cook and Lake Counties that will restore close to 1,600 trees to the basin.

  • $250,000 - Waukegan Harbor Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation Program

The Delta Institute will work with communities along the Dead River and the Waukegan River to develop plans and restore 500 trees that will improve the overall quality and health of the Waukegan Harbor.

  • $190,236 - Grand Calumet Big Marsh Wetland Phytoremediation

The Chicago Park District will plant 5,000 native trees and other vegetation and monitor the ability of these plants to remediate contaminated soils, sediments, and water to help restore the wetland functionality of the Big Marsh.


  • $100,200 - The Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation Program

The City of Goshen will plant 500 trees to replace tree canopy coverage lost to Emerald Ash Borer along the Elkhart River.

The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Forest Service lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $27 billion per year.


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