Habitat restoration in Areas of Concern (AOCs) is a priority for many agencies and organizations across the Great Lakes. These projects contribute substantially to removing Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) and delisting AOCs but also in realizing environmental and economic benefits, and enhancing the quality of life for local and regional citizens. Funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the development of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan has not only expedited restoration of these environmentally degraded areas, it has also increased the number of entities engaged in the restoration of these environmentally degraded areas.
Habitat restoration in areas with a legacy of contamination, often in an urban or industrial setting, can present challenges and uncertainties above and beyond those encountered in traditional restoration projects. Project managers must be quick to address unforeseen issues and where necessary, modify implementation plans. While no two projects are alike, managers could benefit from the sharing of lessons learned to assist in the development of creative, efficient and effective strategies to move forward on the road from remediation to restoration. Currently, few forums exist to provide this type of dialogue and information exchange.
The partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) was established to restore coastal habitat in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC), with site-specific restoration projects in Muskegon Lake, Michigan, and St. Louis River/Hog Island in Wisconsin.
Meeting Challenges; Sharing Lessons Learned
In 2008 the Great Lakes Commission received funding from National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes Habitat Restoration Program to work with local partners to restore coastal habitat and address BUIs at two Great Lakes AOCs:
- Muskegon Lake, Michigan with the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission
- St. Louis River/Hog Island, Wisconsin with the Douglas County Land Conservation Department
These projects were some of the first AOC restoration projects initiated, and are now nearing completion. Project managers are anxious to share the results of their work with others in the AOC community and to help foster information sharing among entities engaged in habitat restoration. GLC will host a webinar for both projects to provide an overview of the AOC, restoration goals and objectives and to highlight the successes, challenges, novel approaches and strategies that kept their projects on track.