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What's New
Grand Traverse: A Great Lakes Reef Restoration
Scientists from The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Central Michigan University are working together to lower approximately 450 tons of specially selected rocks into Grand Traverse Bay near Elk Rapids, Mich., to rebuild a reef to help rehabilitate populations of native fish.

Master plan finally in place for Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve
Daily Herald (11/11)
The fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, in Ill., includes a trail along Lake Michigan. A master plan for public access improvements and habitat restoration is in place after three years of debate and discussion.

Green Bay dead zone shorter this year but still a threat
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (11/5)
Scientists thought that portions of Lake Michigan's Green Bay would experience a huge "dead zone" in 2015. Severe problems never materialized, but the underlying conditions are not going away — and that's a problem for aquatic life.

Snowy owls heading south into Minnesota
The Associated Press (11/5)
Wildlife experts say more snowy owls have made their way to northern Minnesota from Canada this season. The influx of a large number of snowy owls happens about once every seven to ten years.

Study: Less than 3 percent of eels survive Ontario dams
Great Lakes Echo (10/20)
Electrical power plants at some eastern Ontario dams are killing American eels that are already threatened by overfishing, a recent study revealed.

U.P. water study boosts conservation efforts
Great Lake Echo (10/19)
Research at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior is shedding light on the critical environmental role that shallow seasonal woodland pools of water play in supporting wildlife.

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The Great Lakes ecosystem's sand dunes, coastal marshes, rocky shorelines, lakeplain prairies, savannas, forests, fens, wetlands and other landscapes contain features that are either unique to or best represented within the Great Lakes Basin, according to a 1994 biodiversity report by The Nature Conservancy.
For example, the Great Lakes sand dunes are one of the largest systems of freshwater sand dunes in the world, ranging from high, forested dunes and linear dune ridges commonly backing sand beaches, to active dune fields covering thousands of acres, such as those near Ludington, Michigan. Native dune species include the dune thistle (Cirsium pitcheri), Houghton's goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii) and the Lake Huron locust (Trimerotropis huroniana).
Some of the last, best examples of the continent's most imperiled savanna communities lie along the lakeplains of the southern Great Lakes, near Windsor, Ontario, and along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, in particular. Also occurring in the lakeplains is a unique community of arctic and prairie species that persists from the colder, then dryer climatic periods following glaciation. Often called by the Scandinavian name "alvar," these communities are scattered in an arc that follows the Niagaran Escarpment from upper Michigan through southern Ontario and to northwestern New York. Never widespread, this remarkable open bedrock landscape remains intact in only a handful of places.
The extensive freshwater marshes of the Great Lakes coasts also are unique in ecological character, size and variety. They range from small wetlands nestled in scattered bays to extensive shoreline wetlands such as those of southwestern Lake Erie, freshwater estuaries such as the Kakagon Sloughs of northern Wisconsin and the enormous freshwater delta marshes of the St. Clair River.

References: Biological Diversity in the Great Lakes Ecosystem, The Nature Conservancy, 1994

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General Resources
Canada's Aquatic Environments: Habitats
University of Guelph
Includes more than 9,000 pages of information on aquatic animals and habitats.

EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
This U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office webpage provides up-to-date information on the President's budget proposal to allocate $475 million towards an EPA-led interagency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Habitat Advisory Board
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission has long recognized that habitat quality and quantity relates directly to determining which measures will ensure maximum sustained productivity of Great Lakes fish.

Habitat Management Programs
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
This index provides information about the various habitat management programs in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

NOAA Restoration Center
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The NOAA Restoration Center enhances living marine resources to benefit the nation's fisheries by restoring their habitats.

Prairies in the Prairie State
Presented by the Openlands Project and the Illinois State Museum, this exhibit discusses the environment, plants and animals, and human interaction of the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie

Prairies of Illinois
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Illinois is known as the "Prairie State," part of the vast grassland in central North America. Learn about the remnants of tallgrass prairie and related flora and fauna through this series of maps, photos and historic overviews.

The Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Great Lakes Ecosystem: Issues and Opportunities
The Nature Conservancy
This 1994 document provides a "first look" at the special biological diversity of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem and at those human activities that place it at risk.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Adopt a conservation mentality: Protect our environment by not releasing unwanted fish and aquatic plants into the wild. Find out what you can do to help this growing problem on this site.

Living By Water Project
The mission of the Project is "working towards healthier human and wildlife habitat along the shorelines of Canada", and to help shoreline residents obtain information to protect their property, prevent problems like erosion, and protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat.

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Related Resources
GLIN: Agencies and Organizations, Environment
GLIN: Biodiversity in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Land Use in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Sanctuaries and Reserves in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Wetlands in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Wildlife of the Great Lakes Region

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Updated: December 1, 2015
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