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EPA announces $1.5M in grants to improve water quality in Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan

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Allison Lippert (

CHICAGO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded three Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants totaling more than $1.5 million for invasive species control and urban watershed management in Grand Traverse Bay, a bay of Lake Michigan in the northwestern lower peninsula of Michigan.   

“Through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, we’re fulfilling our mission to restore the health of the water that Michigan communities depend on,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These grants will assist local partners in restoring Grand Traverse Bay while improving economies and preventing future damage to the environment.”

The grants announced today for water quality projects in Grand Traverse Bay are:

The Nature Conservancy - $550,070

“The Nature Conservancy is very excited to do this work in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Central Michigan University. Controlling the invasive rusty crayfish on Great Lakes reefs is a critical piece of the strategy to restore spawning habitat for lake herring, lake trout and lake whitefish,” said Helen Taylor, state director for Michigan at The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy will use funding to remove invasive invertebrates that contribute to the decline of native fish populations. Funding will support the manual removal and deployment of barriers to guard against species that consume the eggs of native fish such as Lake Trout, Cisco and Whitefish. The project will help restore native fish populations across the Great Lakes Basin, including up to four acres in Grand Traverse Bay.

The Grand Traverse Conservation District - $539,605

"Grand Traverse Conservation District and the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network are excited to work on our fourth Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant through the EPA. Past grants have allowed us to grow crucial invasive species awareness and control efforts in our region, improving partnerships, strengthening our science-based decision-making, and supporting the local economy,” said Marsha Barber Clark, Executive Director of the Grand Traverse Conservation District. “The current grant allows us to take this work to the next level, focusing on ornamental invasive species prevention and management. We look forward to continuing to work with partners, municipalities, and landowners to tackle this ongoing threat to our 'Up North' way of life."

The Grand Traverse Conservation District, following a civilian conservation corps model, will use funding to control invasive plant species in up to 180 acres of high priority areas in northwest Michigan, including the Lake Michigan Dunes, Misty Acres Preserve, Trapp Farm, Timbers Recreation Area, and Reffitt Nature Preserve. Controlling the spread of invasive plants will improve water quality and availability of resources for native species.

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay -  $499,989

“We are thrilled to continue receiving investment at the Federal level to restore a critical urban stream in our community,” said Christine Crissman, Executive Director of The Watershed Center.  “We’ve spent the last 15 years working to have Kids Creek removed from the State of Michigan’s Impaired Waters List and this puts us one step closer to making that a reality.”

The Watershed Center will use funding to construct a wetland floodplain area adjacent to the 14th Street stormwater outfall in Traverse City. The project is expected to capture and treat approximately 177 million gallons of stormwater per year, including sediments, nutrients and pathogens. As a result, water quality will improve in nearby Kids Creek, which flows to Lake Michigan.

For more information on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, visit: