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EPA awards $10 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant to research group that includes UW-River Falls professor

December 11, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $10 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant to a research group that includes University of Wisconsin-River Falls Associate Biology Professor Joseph Gathman.

The grant was awarded to Central Michigan University and a collaborating group of researchers and agencies to monitor coastal wetlands around the Great Lakes basin over the next five years. It will expand an already existing GLRI grant for Great Lakes wetlands monitoring.

The $10 million grant is a renewal of a previous grant that Gathman and the research group were awarded. UWRF and Gathman’s portion of the grant is approximately $250,000 and will be used to fund research on Lake Erie and Lake Huron, as well as student assistance on the project.

Gathman’s research work is based primarily in Canada, where he has collaborated with researchers from the University of Windsor. The crew works the entire Canadian side, and most of the U.S. side, of the Lake Erie coast, as well as the entire Canadian shore of Lake Huron. Gathman and his crew visit 30 wetlands each summer to measure their condition. The findings allow them to determine which wetlands are in greatest need of restoration.

“Representing UWRF in this large-scale project helps me to incorporate the most up-to-date environmental-monitoring methods and data into the classroom, while I contribute to this effort to protect and restore critical habitats in the largest body of freshwater in the world,” said Gathman.

The EPA estimates that more than half of the 220 million acres of wetlands, present on the continental U.S. in the 17th century, have been drained for various uses including farming and industrialization. The GLRI was launched in 2010 in an effort to restore the Great Lakes area.

During the last five years, Gathman and his collaborators used their first GLRI grant to collect data from the various wetlands. The new portion of the grant will allow the researchers to continue collecting data and track changes. The data will be used to assist in restoration efforts for the Great Lakes wetlands region.

For more information, email Gathman at joseph.gathman@ uwrf.edu.