Sunset on Fisherman’s Island. (Trout Unlimited)
The Great Lakes are great beyond scale. Five freshwater seas in the heart of North America provide clean water for 40 million people, habitat for nine species of trout and salmon, a $7 billion recreational fishing economy, a $16 billion tourism boost, and countless memories for every person who enjoys their shores. Yet serious legacy and modern environmental problems threaten and degrade their health. Trout Unlimited is working to keep them healthy by improving the tributaries that flow into them, advocating for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds that help recover and restore the watershed, and supporting solutions to invasive species.
Great Lakes waves. (Trout Unlimited)
Alewaves after a heavy Lake Michigan fish kill. (Trout Unlimited)
Sunset over Lake Michigan. (Trout Unlimited)
Lake Michigan. (Trout Unlimited)
Advocating for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Trout Unlimited has helped advocate for robust ongoing funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has invested more than $3 billion into conservation projects in the region. TU programs are using GLRI funding to remove dams and reconnect hundreds of miles of upstream coldwater habitat to trout. We have planted more than 50,000 trees alongside Great Lakes tributaries, which cools streams and filters pollution.
Protecting Against Invasive Species
Invasive carp threaten the Great Lakes’ $7 billion recreational fishery. These fish are making their way through Lake Michigan’s man-made connection to the Mississippi River watershed via the Chicago Area Waterway System. Trout Unlimited successfully advocated for federal and state funding for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam project, which is designed to prevent invasive carp from reaching the lakes. Other invasives threaten the lakes: ship ballast water remains a potential vector, and didymo – “rock snot” – is turning up in more and more trout streams.
Advocating for Solutions
From sulfide mining to toxic algae blooms, from oil transport to aquaculture, the threats to the Great Lakes and the coldwater fish they support require complex solutions informed by science. However, these decisions are made within political, agency, and commission processes influenced by stakeholders on all sides. Trout Unlimited brings a trusted voice to these decision-making forums as a science-based, apolitical organization advocating for bipartisan solutions for the benefit of trout, salmon, and people.