Initiative for Resilient Great Lakes Coasts

Welcome to the Initiative for Resilient Great Lakes Coasts, a collaborative program between the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We support municipal efforts to restore fish and wildlife habitat in vulnerable coastal areas. These coastal projects protect Great Lakes communities, ecosystems, and water quality.


Photo of eroded shoreline on MichiganDevelopment, pollution, and other human activities have led to a loss of Great Lakes habitat, especially along the coasts. Habitat is crucial for climate resilience. Healthy ecosystems provide life-sustaining benefits, like clean air and water, to humans and wildlife. Further, habitat features like native plants can attract pollinators, store greenhouse gasses, and help with erosion and flood control. The Initiative for Resilient Great Lakes Coasts develops projects that create, connect, and restore habitat to protect these processes. These projects are designed in partnership with communities to increase their resilience to the coastal climate challenges they are facing


  • The Initiative for Resilient Great Lakes Coasts supports the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Action Plan III Goal 4: Habitat and Species.
  • The initiative provides training and technical assistance to communities, supporting them through the development and design of habitat-focused projects that improve local climate resilience.
  • Municipalities join web-based trainings and workshops on habitat restoration and climate resilience.
  • Engineering and habitat experts provide one-on-one support for project visioning and planning.
  • Participants submit project ideas to be considered for design and engineering.
  • Finalist projects are selected and designed in collaboration with municipal staff.


The Initiative for Resilient Great Lakes Coasts launched in 2021 and focused efforts on coastal communities along Lake Michigan. The initiative has supported more than 30 local entities through training and technical assistance and nine finalist projects through 60-100% design. For the nine finalist projects, we also provided maintenance and monitoring plans and construction cost estimates. Check out a few of our projects!

  • The Lighthouse Beach Dune Management Project in Evanston, Illinois will slow the progression of dune erosion caused by foot traffic while maintaining public access to and enjoyment of the dunes. This project also enhances biodiversity and supports habitat by incorporating native plants.
  • The Bayfront East Living Shoreline and Trail Modification Project in Petoskey, Michigan addresses damage to public parkland, sewage infrastructure, and a non-motorized trail caused by fluctuating water levels, wind erosion, and wave overtopping. The project replaces a failing rock revetment with a nature-based, living shoreline by softening the slope, creating a cobble beach and a backshore pond with native plantings and woody debris.
  • The Guenther Pond Restoration Project in Port Washington, Wisconsin will restore a pond and reconnect it to existing streams and aquifers, which will reestablish a natural wetland and restore fish habitat. The project’s early conceptual designs include a public boardwalk through the site.
  • The Lincoln Park South Lagoon Shoreline Resilience Project in Chicago, Illinois addresses severe erosion and infrastructure failure caused by fluctuating lake levels that have overtopped a lagoon wall. The engineered design demonstrates how resilient shoreline solutions can foster ecological benefits and be designed in alignment with the aesthetics of a historic park landscape. The design stabilizes and enhances habitat areas, reduces hardened shorelines, and reconnects the transition zone where the slope can be softened.


The Initiative for Resilient Great Lakes Coasts will expand to Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and Lake St. Clair communities in January 2024! We will continue to provide the scientific expertise, training, and technical assistance needed to develop coastal habitat restoration and resilience projects.  


Interested in participating? We invite you to attend our kickoff webinar, “Launching the Initiative for Resilient Great Lakes Coasts in Lake Huron, Lake Superior, and Lake St. Clair Communities”, on January 17, 2024 at 10 am Central / 11 am Eastern. Register here.

Questions? Ask Zoë Goodrow, Coastal Programs Manager at the Cities Initiative, at