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News Releases from Region 05

EPA awards $6.4 million to Great Lakes Fishery Commission for projects to restore and manage fish species

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Allison Lippert (

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – (April 13, 2020) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a $6.4 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to restore and manage fish species through its FishPass project and the use of the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System.

“This grant is what the GLRI is all about – strong partnerships delivering results for the Great Lakes,” said Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede. “EPA looks forward to collaborating with our federal, state, tribal, local and non-governmental partners on this important work to enhance the Great Lakes fishery.”

“The EPA’s investment in FishPass and GLATOS comes at a critical time,” said Robert Lambe, executive secretary, Great Lakes Fishery Commission. “This formal support from the EPA and from our city, state, federal, tribal, and binational partners, is a clear indication of the value of science and innovation. Without such investments, we would not enjoy the ecological and economic benefits the Great Lakes have to offer. The GLRI has significantly increased our understanding of Great Lakes fisheries and ecosystems and has allowed us to communicate science to people who will put it to good use.”

The Commission is receiving $6 million for its innovative “FishPass” project, which will remove the deteriorating Union Street Dam in downtown Traverse City, Michigan, and reconnect the Boardman River with Lake Michigan. The dam will be replaced with an improved sea lamprey barrier featuring a fish-sorting channel. The barrier and channel will aid scientists in the migration of desirable fishes and the removal of invasive fishes.  Construction is expected to begin later this year.

"The Great Lakes are our most treasured natural resource,” said Congressman Jack Bergman (MI-01). “This grant for Traverse City’s FishPass project is yet another example of positive investments in our communities through the GLRI. I’m proud to continue my support for this project, and the GLRI.”

“We are grateful to the EPA for this award, and show of support for FishPass,” said Marty Colburn, city manager, Traverse City. “FishPass is truly a collaborative endeavor with cross sector engagement.”

“The Boardman/Ottaway River is of special significance to the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians,” said Sonya Zotigh, tribal manager, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. “We are excited that FishPass will soon be a reality, and we appreciate the federal partnerships setting the foundation of this extraordinary project.”

“These projects will contribute critical information needed to best manage Michigan’s fisheries resources” said Dan Eichinger, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “The GLRI funding has provided pivotal opportunities to collaboratively address invasive species and improve our fishery resources with our partners in the basin.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pleased to provide our technical and construction capabilities to support this innovative and important endeavor," said Steve Check, project manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District. "Following removal of three dams on the upper river, replacing the Union Street Dam with FishPass will serve as the capstone of the overall Boardman River restoration initiative. FishPass will ultimately represent so much more as our incredible partnership exports and applies the knowledge gained on this project to address challenging fishery-related issues all across the Great Lakes in the future."   

The remaining $400,000 will support an existing project that uses the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System to track the movement of fish populations in each of the Great Lakes. Funding will support researchers who implant electronic transmitters in fish that are “heard” by receivers in the Great Lakes and tributaries. The project will provide critical information for fish managers and accelerate the recovery of native species, such as lake trout and lake sturgeon, and the control of invasive species, such as sea lamprey and Asian grass carp.

"We are excited to support these projects and continue working with our partners to drive science-based conservation efforts forward in the Great Lakes," said Charlie Wooley, regional director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

These projects are part of the larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the GLRI. Specifically, the funded work supports the GLRI goal of protecting and restoring the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes basin. In October 2019, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the GLRI Action Plan III, an aggressive plan that will guide Great Lakes restoration and protection activities by EPA and its many partners over the next 5 years.

For more information on GLRI, visit: