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News Releases from Region 05

EPA awards $854,977 to Michigan for study of Upper Peninsula’s Torch Lake

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Allison Lippert (

HOUGHTON, Mich. (May 18, 2020) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant of $854,977 to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to test projects that could revitalize the population of benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms in Torch Lake, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The lake has been identified by the United States and Canada as one of 43 areas experiencing severe environmental degredation in the Great Lakes basin, known as Areas of Concern (AOCs).


“This GLRI funding will help identify ways to improve the health of Torch Lake’s ecosystem,” said Regional Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt Thiede. “We look forward to the results of Michigan’s pilot test and continued collaboration with our partners on restoration efforts at the AOC.”


“I’m grateful the EPA and the Trump Administration continue making investments in water quality across the First District,” said U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (MI-01). “This grant for Torch Lake in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is just another example of the importance of the GLRI program. I am hopeful this will bring us one step further in our efforts to ensure future generations have access to clean and safe water.”


Michigan EGLE will use GLRI funding to conduct a study that includes construction of pilot-scale test plots in shallow, nearshore areas of Torch Lake. The test plots, which will involve habitat restoration or the capping of contaminated sediments, will be evaluated as possible mechanisms for hastening the recovery of the plants and animals that live in the lakebed sediment.


Torch Lake has a diminished benthic community due to contamination from historical mining activities in the area. Results of the pilot study will be used to determine whether additional habitat restoration or capping projects could be used in the future to address environmental impairments within the Torch Lake AOC.


These projects are part of the larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the GLRI. 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.


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