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Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund

Researchers deploy Michigan Tech’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) IVER 3 in the Keweenaw Waterway to take a closer look at an unmarked shipwreck
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund

The Office of the Great Lakes cultivates partnerships with governments, nonprofits, universities, and the private sector to advance science and innovation to solve the next generation of water challenges. The Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund provides funding for innovative research and demonstration projects that advance knowledge about Great Lakes ecosystems and their interactions with Michigan communities. Funded projects support and inform work to ensure a healthy environment, strong economy, and high quality of life for the people of Michigan. 

Supported work contributes to understanding of how pollution enters and moves through the Great Lakes ecosystem; develops and refines monitoring and data-collection strategies; and analyzes and enhances interactions between people, communities, and economies that protect, restore, and sustain the health and function of Great Lakes ecosystems. Projects improve our ability to identify and respond to human and wildlife health risks and integrate Great Lakes and water resources into community development. Emphasis is placed on work that results in advancing policy development or science-based decision making to improve environmental health, public health, and quality of life. 

Funding opportunities 

The Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund occasionally releases Requests for Proposals (RFPs) on specific topics identified as research and policy priorities. There are currently no open RFPs.  

Contact

Simon Belisle
Great Lakes Policy Specialist
BelisleS@Michigan.gov

Current funded projects

  • Project Title: Water User Committee and User Manual Integrated Assessment Project
     
    Amount: $224,877 

    Project Period: July 1, 2021-June 30, 2024 

    Grantee: University of Michigan - Michigan Sea Grant 

    Project Leads: Dr. Michael Fraker, Research Program Manager, Michigan Sea Grant and Dr. Adam Zwickle, Principal Investigator, Michigan State University 

    Project Description: This Integrated Assessment project, co-funded by the Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund and Michigan Sea Grant, will develop a Water User Committee (WUC) User’s Manual. The goal is to create a WUC guide that incorporates the diverse perspectives of state water users and builds capacity among Michiganders toward local collaborative governance of water resources. The manual will provide WUCs with the resources, information, tools, tactics, and steps to develop realistic shared solutions to sustainably manage water use. The manual will be an essential tool for the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Water Use Program and future WUCs. The manual will be used to will educate water users about Michigan’s water laws and water rights, the role of state agencies and various water user groups, and strategies and best practices for successful WUC form and function. The integrated assessment project will also include convening a small number of water user committees as case studies to demonstrate the strategies laid out in the manual.  

    EGLE’s Water Use Program has seen an increase in the number of watershed management areas where WUCs can be effective tools for water users to prevent or cooperatively resolve water conflicts or potential adverse resource impacts. EGLE will likely need to convene one or more WUCs in the near future and currently lacks the tools and tactics to effectively support WUCs and facilitate an agreement on voluntary measures to prevent adverse resource impacts. In addition, WUCs may choose to come together proactively and would also benefit from a user manual to assist them in managing local water resources. New tools, strategies, and resources are needed to build capacity of water users to develop realistic shared solutions to sustainably manage water use and ultimately share governance for water.  
  • Project Title: From Students to Stewards: Fostering Great Lakes Literacy to Improve School Performance  

    Amount: $189,025, comprised of $50,000 from the Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund and $139,025 from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, both for phase 2 

    Project Period: November 1, 2019 - September 30, 2023 

    Grantee: Grand Valley State University  

    Project Lead: Larry Wyn, MiSTEM Network Program Manager 

    Project Description: The State of Michigan launched the From Students to Stewards Initiative (FS2S) in 2019 to address a recommendation in the Michigan Water Strategy to grow future water stewards, leaders, and decision-makers in Michigan. The FS2S Initiative is a collaborative effort by several state-level partners: The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Office of the Great Lakes, fostering Great Lakes literacy and stewardship; the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), through its focus on talent and workforce development and the priorities of the governor’s MiSTEM Advisory Council; the statewide MiSTEM Network, through its interest in authentic STEM-rich instruction; and the Michigan Department of Education, through elements of its Michigan Integrated Continuous Improvement Process. 

    The FS2S initiative aims to improve school performance by integrating place-based Great Lakes literacy principles into school curricula through continuous school improvement plans. FS2S intends to make progress toward closing the water literacy gap in Michigan and growing the next generation of water stewards, leaders, skilled workers, and decision-makers needed to solve complex water issues in a changing world. Simultaneously, the project is intended to demonstrate how using Great Lakes-focused, place-based, authentic educational opportunities grounded in the whole child model can improve student performance, boost teacher morale, strengthen schools’ continuous improvement processes, and increase student exposure to water resource-related careers. 

    The project started as a pilot in Phase 1 and continued through an expansion in phase 2. An initial $50,000 grant was awarded in 2019 to support the Phase 1 pilot field testing grant opportunity for schools and districts. 
  • Project Title: Smart Ships Coalition and Marine Autonomy Research Site (MARS) Development Phase 2  

    Amount: $99,997  

    Project Period: October 1, 2021 - December 31, 2022 

    Grantee: Michigan Technological University  

    Project Lead: Travis White, research engineer, Great Lakes Research Center, Michigan Technological University 

    Project Description: The Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund (MGLPF) is supporting the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) at Michigan Technological University (MTU) to continue efforts to advance the Great Lakes region as a hub for marine technology, industry, trade, and education and to support implementation of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers Regional Maritime Strategy. MTU coordinates multi-sector partners through the ongoing development and administration of the Smart Ships Coalition (SSC) and oversees the operation of the Marine Autonomy Research Site (MARS), a marine technology and autonomous vehicle test bed facility located on Lake Superior near MTU’s main campus. 

    Phase 2 of the project allows MTU to build upon the Phase 1 goals of launching the SSC and establishing the MARS test bed. The Phase 2 work plan and goals will prioritize engaging SSC membership in both virtual and in-person forums, leading the formation of SSC working groups, and developing a sustainability model to support future work.  

    The MGLPF provided funding for Phase 1 to MTU to establish the SSC and the MARS test bed in 2018.
  • Project Title: Development of a Tribal-State Collaborative Stewardship Plan for Manoomin (Wild Rice) in Michigan 

    Amount: $100,000 

    Project Period: March 1, 2022-February 29, 2024 

    Grantee: University of Michigan 

    Project Lead: Dr. Jennifer Read, director, University of Michigan - Water Center 

    Project Description
    : The University of Michigan’s Water Center will support the Tribal-State of Michigan Wild Rice Initiative (MWRI) in the development of a Tribal-State Collaborative Stewardship Plan for Manoomin (Wild Rice) in Michigan to help protect wild rice, one of the state’s most culturally and ecologically significant native plants. 

    Michigan’s wild rice, Zizania palustris and Zizania aquatica, is native to the Great Lakes region and portions of Canada. Found in shallow waters of inland lakes, slow-flowing streams, and Great Lakes embayments, wild rice has ecological, social, cultural and economic value in the state, specifically and most particularly for Anishinaabe communities in the region, who know the plant as manoomin or mnomin. Once plentiful in places like northern Michigan, wild rice is under threat from climate change, habitat loss, uninformed harvesting practices, degraded water quality and other factors.  

    The University of Michigan Water Center, which focuses on collaborative, user-driven research, will partner with MWRI to develop the stewardship plan, engaging with the tribes to identify all elements of the plan and working with relevant decision makers to secure commitments and resources for implementation.  

    The project advances a priority recommendation in the 2016 Michigan Water Strategy for the state to work with federally recognized tribes and other stakeholders with an interest in preserving and enhancing wild rice resources across the state. Since the formation of the MWRI in 2017, the group has been working to protect, preserve and restore wild rice and wild rice culture in Michigan through collaboration, education, research, policy, and stewardship, to enhance ecosystem health and benefit present and future generations. The team includes representatives from the state departments of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Transportation; and each of the 12 federally recognized tribes in Michigan. The MWRI is co-chaired by Katie Lambeth, EGLE, and Danielle Fegan, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. 

    The stewardship plan will lead to more coordinated research, protection and restoration of wild rice in Michigan and facilitate collaboration among tribal and state agencies, where appropriate. 
  • Project Title: Institutional Controls for Groundwater Management: Long-term Costs and Their Impact for Policy 

    Amount: $349,808 

    Project Period: July 1, 2021-June 30, 2023 

    Grantee: Michigan State University 

    Project Leads: Jeremiah Asher, assistant director, Michigan State University Institute of Water Research 

    Project Description: The Institute of Water Research (IWR) at Michigan State University (MSU) will study the long-term costs of implementing institutional controls (IC) as a groundwater contamination response in Michigan. Under state policies in place since 1995, when a liable party or the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is faced with the decision on how to select an appropriate remedy for contaminated groundwater, they may rely on institutional controls. Institutional controls are a groundwater contamination management strategy that allows groundwater contamination to be left in the ground, so long as human and environmental exposure pathways are controlled. These institutional controls can provide an easier and, at least initially, more affordable response than approaches such as extraction and treatment of contaminated groundwater. These ICs are usually either deed restrictions or municipal ordinances and are often used for brownfield redevelopment, an important priority for communities.  

    Over the past few decades that this policy has been in place, institutional controls have been implemented at more than 2000 sites across the state, but we have limited information about what the effect of the policy has been. The goal of this project is to better understand the long-term implications, risks, and costs of using institutional controls and other restrictive actions. 

    The project team will identify approximately eight to 12 case study sites in which an IC for groundwater was used in Michigan and calculate the cumulative cost of that choice at each site, including costs associated with monitoring, wildlife impacts, property value, public health, and recreational loss, among others. In estimating those costs, the project team will engage stakeholders to help identify relevant datasets, records, and cost considerations.  

    The multidisciplinary project team will also develop a framework to guide future decision making for controlling exposures to groundwater contamination. The decision framework will supplement existing remedial action plan decision-making frameworks that are used by the State of Michigan’s cleanup programs. The decision framework will incorporate the economic analysis and resulting economic estimates, policy implications of long-term use of ICs, and the potential costs of alternative remediation actions. Results of the project will help state and local decision-makers better understand the potential costs and risks of current management strategies for contaminated groundwater and inform and improve decision-making about future uses of institutional controls. 

Past Funded Projects

  • From Students to Stewards: Fostering Great Lakes Literacy to Improve School Performance

    Amount: $50,000

    End Date: August 31, 2021

    Grantee: Grand Valley State University

    Project Lead: Mo Thomas

    Project Description: The "From Students to Stewards" pilot project initiative is a collaborative effort involving EGLE's Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Department of Education, and the MiSTEM Network to improve school performance by integrating place-based Great Lakes literacy principles into school curriculum through continuous school improvement plans. "From Students to Stewards" will make progress toward closing the water literacy gap in Michigan and growing the next generation of water stewards, leaders, skilled workers, and decision-makers needed to solve complex water issues in a changing world. Simultaneously, the project will demonstrate how using Great Lakes-focused, place-based, authentic educational opportunities grounded in the whole child model can improve student performance, boost teacher morale, strengthen schools' continuous improvement processes, and increase student exposure to water resource related careers. GVSU will conduct a competitive process for schools to support field testing of this concept for the 2020-2021 school year for a minimum of five schools. This project is part of the implementation of Michigan's Water Strategy.

  • Great Lakes Islands Initiative

    Amount: $25,000

    End Date: December 31, 2019

    Grantee: Islands Institute

    Project Lead: Kate Tagai 

    Project Description: This project built upon earlier efforts to develop a regional network of Great Lakes island communities. The Island Institute of Maine was instrumental in spurring the creation of this network from 2015 to 2017. As the network moved from concept into operation mode, Island Institute staff served as technical advisors to the full network as well as individual member communities. This included advising on the development of the network coordination and communications structure; tactically developing and implementing shared initiatives; supporting the creation of media articles, blogs, or interviews; and serving as facilitators at the annual Islands Summit meetings. This effort led directly to the formation of the Great Lakes Islands Alliance, an organization dedicated to bringing island communities together to encourage relationship building, foster information exchange, and leverage resources to address shared challenges and embrace opportunities to benefit islands. This project is part of the implementation of Michigan’s Water Strategy.  

    Smart Ships Coalition and Marine Autonomy Research Site Development (Phase 1)

    Amount: $50,000 

    End Date: May 31, 2020

    Grantee: Michigan Technological University

    Principal Investigators: Dr. Guy Meadows and Travis White 

    Project Description: This grant provides funding to Michigan Technological University to support formation and development of the Smart Ships Coalition, establishment of an autonomous vehicle testbed facility, the Maritime Autonomy Research Site (MARS), designation of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Region as a hub for advancing autonomous marine technologies. The SSC will provide a network and organizational structure to facilitate autonomous marine vehicle adoption, operations, and technology advancement through information exchange, demonstration, and training, with the MARS test area open to companies, research institutions, government agencies, and others wishing to test and demonstrate autonomous surface and sub-surface vehicles and related technologies. This effort reflects the goals identified in the Strategy for the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Maritime Transportation. The Strategy, which was developed in 2016 by the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers, identifies autonomous vessels as an important avenue of technological development for the long-term competitiveness of the Maritime Transportation System. This project is part of the implementation of Michigan’s Water Strategy

    Twin Cities Sustainable Harbor Strategy 

    Amount: $169,760

    End Date: January 31, 2020

    Grantee: The Regents of the University of Michigan

    Project Lead: Dr. Don Carpenter

    Project Description: The grant supported a collaborative effort by Regents of the University of Michigan–Michigan Sea Grant, Drummond Carpenter LLC, the Office of the Great Lakes, St. Joseph Charter Township, the cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, and the Harbor Conservancy to apply the Small Harbors Sustainability Strategy and best practices to assist the communities in development of a shared vision, implementation strategy, and governance structure for the Twin Cities Harbor. The project completed a Twin Cities Harbor Visioning Charrette process aimed to bring the three communities together to develop a 20-year shared vision for the harbor. The project was necessary to collect stakeholder opinions, ensure that all voices in the community are heard and incorporated, and generate a preferred alternative for the waterfront based on community engagement, design meetings, and consensus building. In addition, the project supported a facilitated process to assist the communities in development of harbor governance strategies to revitalize the harbor. This project is part of the implementation of Michigan’s Water Strategy.

  • The Michigan Water Heritage Project 

    Funders: Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation ($150,000), Michigan Humanities Council ($110,000), Michigan Office of the Great Lakes ($25,000 in-kind)

    Participating Organizations: Michigan Humanities Council, Michigan Office of the Great Lakes, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Michigan State University 

    Final Report: Michigan Water Heritage Project

    Project Description: The Water Heritage Project is a collaborative initiative that developed Great Lakes specific exhibit panels to travel to various communities throughout Michigan. The project supports The State of Michigan Water Strategy goals to inspire stewardship for water resources and increase knowledge of our water system. Launched in June 2018, the Michigan Water Heritage Project visited seven communities throughout the state of Michigan, actively engaging individuals in these communities through facilitated conversation and water-themed exhibits. The four desired project outcomes were:

    • To facilitate a deeper understanding of Michigan’s water heritage and stewardship needs through outreach and water-themed museum exhibitions.
    • To establish a deeper understanding of the issues impacting water and quality of life in Michigan.
    • To evaluate the impact of the Water Heritage Project on participants’ perceptions, knowledge, and behaviors toward water resources.
    • To make project deliverables available to Michigan communities throughout the grant period and over a three-year period following the conclusion of programming. 

    The Water Heritage Project facilitated conversations and hosted exhibitions in six rural communities chosen through the Michigan Humanities Council’s partnership with the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street Water/Ways exhibition. After the Smithsonian Waterways exhibit returned to Washington D.C. the Michigan Water Heritage Project was displayed at Michigan Science Center in downtown Detroit for the summer of 2019. 

  • Measuring the Socioeconomic Impacts of Water Restoration Projects: Contributions to Community Vibrancy 

    Amount: $122,269 

    End Date: May 31, 2019 

    Grantee: Michigan State University 

    Principal Investigators: Dr. Michelle Rutty and Dr. Lissy Goralnik 

    Final Report: Contributions to Community Vibrancy

    Project Description: This research project was part of a two-part effort to develop standard, easily transferable metrics for measuring the effect of water restoration projects on community vibrancy. The metrics will serve two purposes: 1) to measure the ways a community changes after a project has been implemented and 2) to assess the ‘readiness’ of a community to implement a project before the project is begun or an investment is made. The readiness indicators will demonstrate to the office whether a community has the capacity to implement a water resource project, or whether more targeted investment is needed to increase capacity before a water resource project can begin. In this part of the project, two researchers from Michigan State University conducted case studies in four communities around the state where water resource projects had already been successfully implemented in order to identify common characteristics and capacities. In each community (Alpena, Manistee, Port Huron, and Sault Ste. Marie), the research team conducted interviews, focus groups, and a community forum. This project is part of the implementation of Michigan’s Water Strategy.  

    Socioeconomic Indicators of Community Vitality: Research and Case Studies of Coastal Communities in Michigan 

    Amount: $100,000 

    End Date: May 31, 2019 

    Grantee: Michigan State University 

    Principal Investigators: Jeremiah Asher and Dr. Mike Thomas 

    Final Report: Socioeconomic Indicators

    Project Description: This research project was the second part of a two-part effort to develop standard, easily transferable metrics for measuring the effect of water restoration projects on community vibrancy. The metrics will serve two purposes: 1) to measure the ways a community changes after a project has been implemented and 2) to assess the ‘readiness’ of a community to implement a project before the project is begun or an investment is made. The readiness indicators will demonstrate to the office whether a community has the capacity to implement a water resource project, or whether more targeted investment is needed to increase capacity before a water resource project can begin. In this part, a second team of researchers from Michigan State University used the findings from the first part of the project to develop a suite of easily collected and broadly transferable metrics for measuring community vibrancy and project readiness. This project is part of the implementation of Michigan’s Water Strategy.  

  • Sustainable Small Harbors Proof of Concept Community Engagement 

    Amount: $25,000

    End Date: February 28, 2017

    Grantee: Lawrence Technological University

    Project Lead: Dr. Don Carpenter 

    Project Description: The grant provided funding to the Lawrence Technological University to conduct two proof of concept community visioning sessions (Rogers City and St. Ignace) as part of an integrated assessment in collaboration with Michigan Sea Grant to develop a Sustainable Small Harbor Management Strategy for Michigan’s coastal communities. This strategy provides communities with knowledge, tools, and processes to integrate the harbor as a strategic asset into community and economic development plans.

    This project is part of the implementation of Michigan’s Water Strategy. Implementation of this project helped address the variability of water levels combined with the increasing economic constraints that have devastated local economies in small harbor towns. The integrated assessment process and proof of concept analysis led to further refinement of a community toolkit and planning resources as well as the development of a financial model to guide public harbors in the pursuit of financial sustainability and overall economic, environmental, and social well-being.

    Great Lakes Unbridged Island Communities Project 

    Amount: $30,000 

    End Date: September 30, 2017 

    Grantee: Island Institute 

    Project Lead: Kate Tagai 

    Project Description: This grant supported staff from the Island Institute of Maine to collaborate with OGL staff and Great Lakes islands communities to understand the unique challenges of unbridged, year-round islands and develop solutions to support vibrant, resilient coastal communities. This project is part of the implementation of Michigan’s Water Strategy.

    Institute staff participated in multiple knowledge exchange trips with several Great Lakes islands to present convening strategies that have worked in Maine, including the Maine Islands Coalition, fellows programs, and Island Institute’s publication about island issues and management strategies. The Island Institute assisted in exploring the creation of a collaborative network of Great Lakes islands communities and was instrumental to the ultimate decision to establish the Great Lakes Islands Alliance. 

  • Sustainable Harbors Management Process 

    Amount: $15,000

    End Date: December 31, 2015 

    Grantee: The Regents of the University of Michigan 

    Project Lead: Dr. Catherine Riseng

    Project Description: The grant provided funding to the Regents of the University of Michigan–Michigan Sea Grant to conduct an integrated assessment in collaboration with Lawrence Technological University (LTU) to develop a Sustainable Small Harbor Management Strategy for Michigan’s coastal communities. This strategy will provide communities with knowledge, tools, and processes to integrate the harbor as a strategic asset into community and economic development plans. The project was initiated to help address the increasing complex issues associated with living on Michigan’s coast, including water level fluctuation and increasing economic constraints. Implementation of this project helped to address the ten-year-long trend of lower water levels combined with the increasing economic constraints that have devastated local economies.

    As part of the integrated assessment, LTU conducted community engagement charrette processes in four communities (New Baltimore, Pentwater, Au Gres, and Ontonagon) to assist communities in the development of a shared vision for the harbor and implementation of strategies to realize the vision. The integrated assessment process and case study analysis informed the development of a toolkit and planning resources to guide public harbors in the pursuit of financial sustainability and overall economic, environmental, and social well-being.