1. Reclaiming Our Coastal Home

    The Upper Midwest Great Lakes LCC Partnership Recognized for Work to Support Resilient Coastal Wetlands in the Great Lakes

    On April 21, 2015 it was announced that the Upper Midwest Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative’s work to protect coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes was selected as a Resilient Lands and Waters partnership. The designation is part of the Administration’s Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda that recognizes where federal agencies are working with state, tribal and local partners to conserve vital natural resources in the face of climate change. Read the complete press release here

    The coastal wetlands of the Great Lakes are home to an abundance of fish, wildlife and plants. They share their home with people, who use the area for a variety of recreational pastimes such as hiking, hunting, fishing, camping and bird watching. The coastal wetlands also serve a larger purpose on the landscape, trapping nutrients and sediments, and thus keeping local waters and the Great Lakes cleaner.

    Over time much of the Great Lakes coastal wetlands have been damaged or lost because of drainage, diking, and hardening of shorelines. Many of these changes were considered beneficial because they allowed for productive human uses like farming, but they came at a cost to water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife.

    Sparked by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, there is renewed interest in coastal wetland stewardship. Building off the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II, which calls for the conservation of 60,000 acres of coastal wetlands, the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative is spearheading an effort with partners to identify the best places for coastal wetland protection and restoration.

    The Landscape Conservation Cooperative Approach

    The Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC is coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region. It is designed to rally partners to important conservation issues. Currently the LCC is helping to coordinate a broad partnership of state, federal, tribal and private organizations to secure the future for coastal wetlands and other unique landscapes. Working together, each partner brings their unique strengths and resources to the challenge of coastal wetland conservation in the Great Lakes.

    Creating Resilient Coastal Wetlands in the Great Lakes

    Starting along the coastlines and areas with hydrologic connections to Lake Huron and Lake Erie, the LCC’s Coastal Working Group will identify the current distribution and condition of existing Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Efforts will also include the identification and mapping of areas that are drained or disconnected from the Great Lakes that could be potentially restored. The findings of these two investigations, and others related to climate vulnerability, will help guide decisions about where future conservation efforts should be focused.

    For the residents of Michigan and Ohio, the work of the LCC will help to prioritize conservation projects and strategically direct funding to efficiently and effectively build a cleaner and healthier place to live, work and play.



  2. Collaborative Science Projects to Benefit Fish, Wildlife and Communities of Upper Midwest and Great Lakes

     Urban conservation, climate adaptation and aquatic connectivity among key research themes

    Aurora borealis at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of Bryan Worth.

    Aurora borealis at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of Bryan Worth.

    Fish, wildlife and communities of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes will benefit from leading edge science projects that aim to inform on-the-ground conservation efforts and natural resource management across the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region.

    The Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC), a partnership of more than 30 agencies and organizations vested in long-term sustainability of our natural resources and regional communities, announced funding for new and ongoing research projects that aim to connect science with land and water resource managers and policymakers.

    “Our partnership is founded on a collaborative approach to problem-solving.  Working together across federal, state and non-governmental lines, we are identifying, and filling, key gaps in our collective body of scientific knowledge. By leveraging our resources, we are more equipped to respond to the natural resources challenges of today, and to build and improve upon the decision-support tools future generations will need tomorrow,” said Dave Scott, Assistant Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and LCC Steering Committee co-chair.

    The upper Midwest and Great Lakes are home to a diverse range of fish, wildlife and plants supported by the Great Lakes, North America’s largest freshwater resource, coastal wetlands, major rivers, boreal forests and prairie-hardwood ecosystems. Many of these ecosystems surround heavily populated urban centers. Physical and social stressors like climate change, energy development, water demands, invasive species and the demands to support a growing human population are all threatening the ecological integrity of the region.

    New research projects receiving 2014 LCC funding include:

    Developing a Decision Support System for Prioritization and Restoration of Great Lakes Coastal WetlandsCentral Michigan University
    By leveraging recently collected coastal wetland monitoring data, a basin-wide coastal wetland prioritization tool will be developed to help wetland managers across the Great Lakes basin prioritize, protect and restore coastal wetlands.

    Climate Change Impacts on Wisconsin’s Natural Communities and Conservation Opportunities Areas: Updating Wisconsin’s Wildlife Action Plan – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
    State Wildlife Action Plans are important conservation planning tools for state natural resource agencies. Natural resource experts will develop detailed climate change vulnerability assessments for natural communities in Wisconsin, and work to integrate valuable information on climate change impacts and natural communities into the State Wildlife Action Plan.

    Quantifying and Mitigating the Impacts of Emerald Ash Borer on Black Ash Forests in the Upper Great Lakes Region – University of Minnesota
    The emerald ash borer poses a tremendous threat to ash forest across the upper Great Lakes. This project will increase understanding of the potential regional impacts of emerald ash borer on black ash forest and associated wildlife by leveraging funding and existing research experiments and field trials located across Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

    Implementing a Conservation Design with Many Landowners in the Chicago Wilderness Region – Audubon Society
    An expansive network of citizen scientists, volunteer land stewards, public land management agencies and non-governmental organizations have pioneered sustainable grassland restoration and management work in the Chicago area, benefiting grassland bird communities on both public and private land. Statistical models of grassland bird distributions and grassland cover will be developed and integrated with Chicago Wilderness’ Green Infrastructure Vision to provide a more holistic and integrated approach to conservation planning and achieving natural resource objectives.

    Collaborative Restoration of Aquatic Resources in the South Central Lake Superior BasinKeweenaw Bay Indian Community
    A collaborative geo-database of inventoried connectivity barriers within the South Central Superior Basin will be used to prioritize restoration for approximately 1,800 inventoried stream crossings.  This pilot landscape conservation design project will contribute to the LCCs ongoing aquatic connectivity initiative by prioritizing restoration projects within regionalized watersheds. A suite of current remote sensing tools, including light detection and ranging technologies, will be used to target restoration and management needs to meet multiple natural resource objectives.

    Ongoing projects receiving 2014 LCC funding include:

    For complete information on all new and ongoing research projects supported by the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC, visit

    The grants totaling $755,000 were funded in part by the President’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; an interagency effort led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  For more information on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service activities related specifically to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, please visit

    The Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC envisions a conservation community that while governed by their unique purposes and missions, collaborates on sustaining lands and waters that support natural and cultural resources and the services they provide. Our mission is to support and sustain this conservation community by facilitating communication, coordination and collaboration to bridge cutting-edge scientific research with natural resources management. For more information, visit


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Photographs of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes can be found on the LCC Flickr page