Top Products for the Great Lakes

General funding was received through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Current Projects

Initiative for Resilient Great Lakes Coasts (formerly the Lake Michigan Coastal Resilience Initiative) – A partnership between the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and NOAA works to build capacity among Great Lakes cities and communities to strengthen coastal resilience and respond to challenges such as shoreline erosion, flooding, and increasingly frequent severe storm events.

The effort started in Lake Michigan with training, technical assistance, and engagement forums to educate officials and natural resource managers on tools, best practices, and engineering options to address coastal disturbances. NOAA provides coastal training through in-kind support.

The project supports municipal-scale projects that pursue nature-based shoreline approaches for acute coastal problems. Engineering and design plans that bring construction-ready status to 60-90 percent are being developed for 10 Lake Michigan sites:

  • Bayfront East Living Shoreline and Trail Modification, Petoskey, Michigan
  • Bayfront West Living Shoreline, Petoskey, Michigan
  • Frankfort Lake Michigan Coastal Resiliency Project, Frankfort, Michigan
  • Lincoln Park South Lagoon Shoreline Resilience Project, Chicago Park District, Illinois
  • Jackson Park Lagoon Shoreline Resilience Project, Chicago Park District, Illinois
  • Openlands Lakeshore Preserve Shoreline Protection Project, Openlands Lakeshore Preserve, Illinois
  • McCormick Ravine Bluff and Nearshore Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Project, Lake Forest Open Lands Association, Illinois
  • Lighthouse Beach Dune Management, Evanston, Illinois
  • Clark Street Beach Dune Management, Evanston, Illinois
  • Valley Creek Resiliency Planning–Guenther Pond Restoration, Port Washington, Wisconsin

The project work will expand to Lake Superior, St. Mary’s River, Lake Huron, St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River in late 2023. Contact Becky Nicodemus ( for additional information.

Coastal States Organization Shoreline Assessment and Design Project – Along many Great Lakes shorelines, land use change, shoreline alterations, and coastal infrastructure have resulted in a loss of coastal biodiversity and ecological resilience. Restoration of these shorelines will require an integrated systems approach, applied at scale, to identify place-based nearshore management goals and actions.

To identify priority projects, NOAA partnered with the Coastal States Organization to host workshops with state coastal programs and other interested parties in all eight Great Lakes coastal states. From there, engineering and design that brings the construction-ready status to 60-80 percent has been completed for the following sites:

  • Lake Ontario, New York – Wetland Rehabilitation and Connectivity in Sawmill Cove, Sodus Bay–Shaker Tract
  • Lake Erie, New York – Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Connectivity – Tifft Nature Preserve
  • Lake Superior, Minnesota – Fish Habitat Reconnection in Sawmill Creek
  • Lake Superior, Minnesota – Fish Habitat Reconnection in Tischer Creek
  • Lake Michigan, Michigan – Pentwater River Drowned River Mouth Habitat Restoration
  • Lake Michigan, Wisconsin – Peshtigo River Streambank Stabilization and Habitat Enhancement
  • Lake Erie, Pennsylvania – Restoration of Prime Fish Spawning Habitat
  • Lake Ontario/Niagara River, New York – Niagara River Shoreline and Aquatic Habitat Restoration

Four additional projects are currently being supported and design plans will be finalized in early 2024:

  • Lake Michigan, Indiana – Little Calumet River-Marshalltown Marsh-MLK North Wetland Complex – Nearshore Emergent Marsh and Stream Corridor Restoration
  • Lake Superior, Wisconsin – Dwight’s Point and Pokegama Wetlands State Natural Area Resiliency Project
  • Lake Superior, Minnesota – Brook Trout Habitat Reconnection in Slaughterhouse Creek, Carlton County
  • Lake Superior, Minnesota – Brook Trout Habitat Reconnection in Hay Creek, Carlton County

Contact Becky Nicodemus ( for additional information.

Adapting Living Shorelines to the Great Lakes (Minnesota) – The Minnesota Lake Superior Coastal Program is selecting suitable living shoreline options for three public access sites along Lake Superior. Working with partners, they are developing shovel-ready designs to enhance habitat, maintain recreational opportunities, and reduce erosion. The project team is also creating a native plant guide and protocols for monitoring. For more information, contact Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.

Illinois Beach State Park Project – This project will collect and process geospatial data to show erosion rates for beach and nearshore areas, as well as the ecosystem value of various habitats within the park through multi-year monitoring efforts. By pairing these data with information on processes such as lake level fluctuations and storms, managers will be able to identify locations and nearshore restoration strategies within the park for habitat protection. Deliverables will include a refined sediment budget for the area and compilation of high-resolution data sets. Existing project data is available through the Illinois State Geological Survey. For more information, contact the Illinois Coastal Management Program.

Collaborative Benthic Habitat Mapping Project – This project is focused on the collection of new high-resolution bathymetry, classification, and mapping of coastal and nearshore benthic habitat to inform natural resource restoration and protection efforts within Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron. Deliverables include detailed bathymetry and data applying the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS). Partners on this project include NOAA (Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), Office for Coastal Management, Office of Coast Survey, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries), National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Existing project data is available through the NOAA Data Access Viewer and NCCOS BioMapper. For more information, contact Brandon Krumwiede (

High-Resolution Land Cover Data for Understanding Coastal Wetland Conditions and Resiliency – This project focuses on producing high-resolution (1-meter) land cover and wetland maps for the U.S. portion of the Great Lakes basin. This data will be consistent with NOAA’s Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) standard and will include five categories of wetlands. Mapping will be based on 2020 and 2021 aerial imagery (most current, depending on the state). This data will support the application of these products at the local and site scales, a huge improvement of past 30-meter resolution mapping.

Once produced, this data will become the foundation of an analysis of wetland resilience to fluctuating lake levels. This work is expected to be similar and provide a Great Lakes corollary to previous work conducted for salt marshes as part of a National Estuarine Research Reserve study.

In addition, a smaller area of more detailed wetland mapping, focused on species-level categories, will also be produced. The location and exact class scheme of that mapping will be based on the resilience analysis and partner input from within the region. This data is expected to be similar to other detailed wetland habitat mapping carried out by the Office for Coastal Management in the past. All data produced as part of this project will be available for public access from NOAA’s Digital Coast website. Contact Nate Herold ( for more information.

Completed Projects

  • Wisconsin Point Dune Restoration – This project enhanced parking turnouts and beach access points along Wisconsin Point to stop dune deterioration. Additionally, the project addressed shoreline erosion along Allouez Bay. (Completed in 2019)
  • Manoomin Restoration in Lake Superior – This project provided technical assistance to determine restoration efforts for wild rice and monitored its distribution within Lake Superior coastal wetlands. NOAA worked with Lake Superior’s coastal tribal communities to identify six sites distributed across the basin for evaluation within tribal coastal wetlands. These pilot locations will serve as a foundation for future work. (Completed in 2018)
  • Hardened Shorelines Assessment – This project classified the U.S. Great Lakes shoreline segments as either artificial or natural, along with structure type and condition. This data analysis enhanced understanding of the unintended consequences of hardened shoreline to increase recognition of potential systemic issues. Data can also now be used for future modeling efforts, to evaluate projects for future climate resilience, and to prioritize Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding decisions each year. (Completed in 2019)
  • Manoomin (Wild Rice) Restoration in Lakes Michigan and Huron – This project provided technical assistance to determine restoration efforts for northern wild rice (Z. palustris) and southern wild rice (Z. aquatica) and monitor its current distribution within Lakes Michigan and Huron coastal wetlands, distributed across 12 sites in the basin, for evaluation within tribal coastal wetlands. Deliverables include high-resolution remote sensing data for key manoomin water bodies. (Completed in 2022)

Tools and Regional Data Sets

Lake Level Viewer (U.S. Great Lakes) – This tool provides visuals and information that depict potential lake level changes and impacts.

Land Cover Atlas – This online data viewer provides user-friendly access to regional land cover and land cover change information.

Data Access Viewer – This tool provides access to imagery, land cover, and elevation information that covers the Great Lakes. Find recently collected bathymetry and hyperspectral data within this tool.


A Guide to Assessing Green Infrastructure Costs and Benefits for Flood Reduction – Follow this six-step approach to assess green infrastructure costs and benefits for flood reduction in your community.

Ecological Limits of Hydrologic Alteration – This project developed criteria for land and water management to sustain healthy aquatic ecosystems through the completion of a flow-ecology model analysis of Minnesota tributaries in the Lake Superior basin.

Economic Assessment – Learn about the economic benefits of green infrastructure and find information on a suite of stormwater management practices.

Great Lakes Partnership Case Study – Learn how collaboration can aid in climate change and resilience planning.

Great Lakes Resilience Planning Guide – Discover resources on hazards and climate change to help communicate these coastal issues.

Land Cover Change Report – Discover how the Lake Michigan basin has changed from 1985 to 2010 with this presentation of key findings.

Stories from the Field – Read about Great Lakes projects that used Digital Coast data, tools, and resources to get the job done. Explore “Focus Area” categories to learn more.

Technical Reports – Find reports on using a needs assessment to plan for climate change and adapting to climate change in the Great Lakes Basin.

For more information, contact us at