Congress Funds Critical Investment in the Great Lakes

Audubon Great Lakes Celebrates Funding for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

CHICAGO (December 23, 2022) – The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the premier Great Lakes federal restoration program, guides billions of dollars to critically important coastal wetland restoration projects and conservation programs within the Great Lakes region. Today, thanks to bipartisan support, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative received $368 million in funding, as part of the 2023 federal spending bill.  

“We’ve seen vulnerable bird populations that were on the brink of extinction rebound thanks to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative,” said Marnie Urso, Senior Policy Director for Audubon Great Lakes. “While the funding falls short of the authorized level of $400 million we were hoping for, it is still a win for the Great Lakes and the wildlife and communities they support. It will ensure that vital restoration projects can continue driving real and positive outcomes across our region.”  

The Great Lakes hold 90 percent of North America's fresh surface water, provide clean drinking water for more than 40 million people and serve as a global resource for millions of birds, but they face threats from loss and degradation of our coastal wetlands, invasive species and a changing climate.   

Since 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has guided billions of dollars to fund more than 6,000 restoration projects that have made the region healthier. These projects, including Audubon Great Lakes’ work to protect vulnerable marsh birds, are crucial to improving water quality and habitat to protect our region’s wildlife, local communities and economies. 

At one time, fewer than 20 pairs of Piping Plovers nested in Great Lakes region. Thanks to recovery efforts funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and carried out by members and affiliates of the Great Lakes Piping Plover Conservation Team, the endangered Piping Plover has made an astounding comeback across the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes shoreline now hosts around 70 breeding pairs, which is about halfway to the recovery goal of 150 Great Lakes Piping Plover breeding pairs. 

In addition to providing vital habitat to more than 350 bird species, the Great Lakes supports fisheries, recreation, and tourism. According to one recent study from the University of Michigan, every GLRI dollar spent from 2010 to 2016 will produce $3.35 in additional economic activity in the Great Lakes through 2036. Protection of the Great Lakes will continue to attract 15 million anglers who visit annually, supporting almost 60,000 jobs in a $7B recreational fishing industry, and over 100,000 jobs in the boating industry. More than 1.5 million jobs depend on the health of the Great Lakes. 

Audubon Great Lakes is grateful to the Audubon members across the Great Lakes region who spoke up for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Together, they sent more than 8,000 individual letters to their Members of Congress, alerting them of the importance of protecting and restoring the Great Lakes.  

Audubon Great Lakes wants to especially thank Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) for being a champion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. We also thank our representatives across the Great Lakes region as well as the Democrats and Republicans who came together to support clean water and a healthy ecosystem. 

Media Contact: Nicole Minadeo, Communications Director,, 419-308-4846

About Audubon Great Lakes 
Audubon Great Lakes is a regional office of Audubon, learn more at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. 

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