The Lake Michigan Sea Grant programs, including Wisconsin Sea Grant, Michigan Sea Grant and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, seek integrated proposals to better understand coastal hydrodynamics and nearshore sediment transport processes on Lake Michigan, to help effectively communicate this information to promote sustainable shore protection, and to increase the integrity of beaches and stabilize bluffs. The result would be more resilient coastal communities and economies.
Research is to be conducted in the 2020–22 biennium. Up to $100,000 per year for two years will be available for funding each of the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois-Indiana portions of a joint research project (i.e., up to $300,000 per year total). Michigan and Illinois- or Indiana-based partners must demonstrate a 50 percent match (1 non-federal dollar for every 2 dollars requested). Match is not required for Wisconsin partners.
By partnering, the three Lake Michigan Sea Grant programs can support broader-scale projects to tackle challenges at a regional scale. In addition, generating collaborations across state lines can enrich the expertise of our in-state research teams.
Pre-proposals must demonstrate plans for collaboration between researchers from two (2) or three (3) of the state programs. The amount of funding available to the research team depends on the number and nature of collaborating partners; e.g., a researcher from Michigan and a researcher from Wisconsin could submit a proposal together for up to $400,000; researchers from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois could submit a proposal together for up to $600,000.
Download RFP (PDF includes guidance for submitting pre-proposals).
Pre-proposals are due by 3pm CST (4pm EST) Friday, January 11, 2019.
For more information, Illinois and Indiana partners can contact Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Research Coordinator Carolyn Foley (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you have interest in this topic and/or skills that would be relevant to a research team but you are not sure who to connect with in other states, contact Carolyn Foley (email@example.com), who can provide a Google doc link that is a resource for researchers who may be interested in partnering. Listing your information in this Google doc is not a requirement for submission to this RFP. It simply serves to help researchers find relevant partners.
Lately, Sheboygan is on the upswing. This city in Wisconsin that sits along the Sheboygan River is booming with new housing, more tourism, and more water-based recreation opportunities, according to a recent Great Lakes Commission study. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG), as part of a team of partners, provided expertise that contributed to this success story.
Not so long ago, the river was considered a black eye on the community. Labeled one of the most polluted rivers in the country, it was contaminated with an alphabet soup of PCBs and PAHs. With funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, approximately 300,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment (or 15,000 full dump trucks) were removed from the river in 2012-2013. As a result, river-goers enjoy a deeper river with better navigation and access, and a cleaner habitat for fish and wildlife to thrive.
“There’s no question in my mind that if that cleanup effort hadn’t gone on, we would not see the kind of development and enthusiasm going on in our community,” said Adam Payne, Sheboygan County administrator. “It absolutely triggered a lot of the good things that are in play.”
As is typical for projects funded through the Great Lakes Legacy Act, partners were key to its success, including federal, state, local—agencies, non-for-profits, private companies—the list is extensive. “The level of collaboration and teamwork was unprecedented of anything I had seen in my career,” added Payne.
For its part, IISG funded research to assess the economic impact of the contaminated river on housing prices. “We looked at actual sales of single family houses in the area from 2002-2004,” explained John Braden, University of Illinois economist (now retired). “And we surveyed 850 residents to understand people’s perceptions of the river, and their willingness to pay more for housing if the river was cleaned up.”
Braden found that property values for homes within five miles of the contaminated waterways were significantly depressed—an 8 percent discount, on average. This research and related Sea Grant outreach helped illustrate the value of the cleanup, helped to keep the Sheboygan community informed about the remediation process as it happened, and helped to change the conversation about sediment remediation.
“Sediment remediation is very expensive, so how can we justify these multi-million dollar projects?” said Caitie Nigrelli, IISG social scientist. “The main goal is to improve environmental quality of water resources, but if we understand more of the benefits, we can make a better case for these projects.”
Nigrelli worked with a Sheboygan outreach team in 2012 to provide information to stakeholders and the public. She helped convey the results of Braden’s research in her outreach efforts through publications and other venues. In addition, bringing her social science expertise to the project, she oversaw a study to bring community perceptions to light to better understand how to communicate about the sediment remediation project and its benefits to the public.
“We found that while the river was viewed as an asset, it had a negative stigma,” said Nigrelli. “Our interviews before the remediation revealed that residents saw the water as unclean and some were hesitant and even afraid to come in contact with the water.”
Due to years of sedimentation, the depth of Sheboygan River was also viewed as a major concern as its shallowness limited access for larger boats and sailboats. While the point of the remediation was to remove contaminants, a side benefit was an increase in river depth. These and other findings helped Nigrelli and the outreach team target public information to address specific concerns.
Payne describes the value of a well-informed public in terms of just getting through the remediation process. “To put it in perspective, when we were removing the contaminated soil from the river and harbor, we had trucks coming and going through the heart of the city every three to five minutes, 24/7. That’s disruptive, lots of dust, noise, traffic and that obviously raises folks eyebrows and raises concerns. I think where outreach efforts were so helpful is in raising awareness with the public—these potential benefits are why we are going to go through this.”
To learn more about remediation partnership possibilities, “A Seat at the Table: Great Lakes Legacy Act” is a new video that explains what it means to be a cost-share partner with the Environmental Protection Agency under GLLA. The video uses interviews with partners to describe the benefits and challenges of cost-share partnering, the cost-sharing mechanism, examples of in-kind services and the flexibility of partnerships.
To see what successful partnerships can accomplish, follow Nigrelli (@Gr8LakesLady) on Twitter as she has been sharing 22 sediment site success stories, including before and after photos, contamination causes, partnerships and cleanup details. Follow and join the conversation using #22SedimentStories.
While the influx of invasive species has taken a toll on the Lake Michigan food web, the loss of habitats like coastal wetlands may be having impacts too. Researchers who are looking at how coastal wetlands contribute to lake habitats have, thus far, documented that various fish species like yellow perch and smallmouth bass use these wetlands at various points in their lives.
Biologists Gary Lamberti, University of Notre Dame, and Patrick Forsythe, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, are leading a team whose goal is to quantify the role of coastal wetlands in sustaining sportfish. The project is in progress, but is making promising steps forward.
They are building the food web in wetland and nearshore habitats at nine paired wetland-nearshore sites around Lake Michigan, with the wetlands representing a variety of landscapes and distances from the lake. The scientists are using three measures from 50 species of fish, both prey and predators, to map out the story. The first two measures are commonly used—carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes. Carbon isotopes reveal location in terms of food source. It reveals what the base of the food web looks like.
The newly restored Roxana Marsh in Indiana provides a study site for assessing the importance of wetlands to Lake Michigan sportfish.
“In a wetland, carbon cycling happens faster than in nearshore waters so the carbon signature is more depleted and that gets propagated up the food chain,” said Katherine O’Reilly, who has taken on this work as part of her doctorate at Notre Dame.
The nitrogen isotope indicates where a species sits in the food chain and can reveal what species are more predatory and are eating other fish versus those that are primary consumers, eating solely invertebrates or zooplankton.
Nearshore areas, including wetlands, may play important roles to yellow perch and other sportfish.
The third measure is a technique first pioneered in marine studies. The researchers are analyzing trace element chemistry of otoliths, which are fish ear bones. Since they are always growing, otoliths provide a timeline of where the fish have been.
“The otolith is comprised of trace elements in the water and we’ve learned that water samples from wetlands and the nearshore are very different,” said O’Reilly. “We have found in the otolith that the fish are using wetlands at different times in their life cycles. This preliminary look at the microchemistry reveals that important sportfish like yellow perch and walleye are not staying in one habitat,” said O’Reilly. “They are moving energy between wetland and nearshore waters.”
As analysis progresses further, the researchers will be able to understand more about the connection between the two habitats. Ultimately, they are hoping to demonstrate the value of wetlands to the lake food web and sportfish.
“The question might need to be answered: How much is a wetland worth to a fishery?” said O’Reilly.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue University Extension.
For the month of January, the Sea Grant 50th is focusing on K to Gray education—yes, that includes everyone—and within IISG there is no shortage of resources for all ages.
Terri Hallesy who has been with the IISG education team for 13 years has seen teaching trends change over the years, but in the end, she knows it’s really very simple.
“I just enjoy working with all the dynamic, engaging specialists,” Hallesy says. “They each focus on diverse programs and target different audiences. What’s great is they’re always ready to collaborate using the latest and most relevant educational tools.”
Below we are highlighting five of the projects the education team has produced—in collaboration with specialists, other Sea Grants, as well as educators—that capture that cooperative spirit.
Nab the Aquatic Invader!
Launched in 2009, this website focuses on the suspects–aka the invasive species–in four regions of the country: Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf, and Great Lakes. In each region, visitors can see read interrogation interviews with the 10 Most Wanted AIS and learn their origin, problems they cause, and some control methods used to slow the spread of these species. The project was featured in the Smithsonian in 2010.
Collaborators included New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Sea Grants.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s (IISG), The Medicine Chest, invites high school students to metaphorically open up those doors and investigate what makes those chemicals harmful to people, pets, and the environment when improperly disposed. The curriculum was updated last year.
Collaborators included Pennsylvania Sea Grant, U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office, and Paul Ritter and Eric Bohm, P2D2 Program Administrators.
Sensible Disposal of Unwanted Medicines
When medications are flushed down the toilet, wastewater treatment plants can’t always filter out the harmful chemicals that can affect wildlife and even get into drinking water supplies. This 4-H guidebook and curriculum, designed for informal education audiences, provides five inquiry-based lessons to help high school youth understand the harmful effects of improper disposal of medicines and what they can do to help. Collaborators included 4-H and Penn High School, Mishawaka, Indiana.
Fresh and Salt Fresh and Salt is a collection of activities that enhance teacher capabilities to connect Great Lakes and ocean science topics. Designed to be used by teachers in grades 5-10, this curriculum provides an interdisciplinary approach to ensure that students achieve optimum science understanding of both Great Lakes and Ocean Literacy Principles.
Collaborators included Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence and Ashland University.
Lake Michigan by the Numbers This curriculum was created by teachers who attended a day-long workshop to learn how to incorporate buoy data into their classroom instruction. They created these data-rich, STEM-based lesson plans that boost understanding of Great Lakes issues by incorporating real-time data from Great Lakes buoys.
Collaborators included Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Lake Michigan Coastal Program, and Center for Great Lakes Literacy.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue Extension.
Descend 55 meters to the floor of Lake Michigan and you’ll find the bottom carpeted with tens of thousands of one of the most prolific invasive species in the Great Lakes: the quagga mussel.
Researchers have long known that these voracious filter feeders impact water quality in the lake, but their influence on water movement had remained largely a mystery.
From 2012 to 2013, Purdue University PhD candidate David Cannon, working under hydrodynamicist Cary Troy, used water velocity sensors to measure dynamics in the deep waters of Lake Michigan near Milwaukee, Wisconsin and determine the filtration effects of the invasive mussels. The project was supported by a grant from the Illinois-Indiana and Wisconsin Sea Grant programs.
Quagga mussels, which arrived in Lake Michigan in the 1990s via ballast water discharged from ships, have colonized vast expanses of the Lake Michigan bottom, reaching densities as high as roughly 35,000 quagga mussels per square meter. The invasive species that can have major economic impacts filters up to 4 liters of water per day, and so far seems unaffected by any means of population control. It is also a constant threat to other systems, as it is readily transported between water bodies.
“Quagga mussels filter by ‘sucking in’ the water around them and then ‘spitting out’ what (nutrients and particles) they don’t want,” said Cannon. “While they’re doing this, they’re able to directly move a very small amount of water around them—only about 10 cm above the lake bed.”
Quagga mussels harvested from Lake Michigan.
Although this filtering has a dramatic effect on water quality, the measurements taken near Milwaukee suggest that quaggas do not strongly influence movement throughout the entire water column.
But the movement they cause in the thin layer immediately above the lake bed—a phenomenon consistent throughout the year thanks to stable temperatures at the bottom of Lake Michigan—is an element missing from most mussel filtration models.
Cannon and Troy hope that will now change. Their results could lead to the development of better models to study the effects of these organisms on lakes and reservoirs around the world.
“Although Lake Michigan is already infested with these mussels, an accurate filtration model would be imperative for determining the fate of substances like nutrients and plankton in the water,” Cannon said. “In other quagga mussel-threatened systems, like Lake Mead, this could be used to determine the potential impact of mussels on the lake, which could in turn be used to develop policy and push for funding to keep mussels out of the lakes.”
“It’s generally accepted that the ecosystems of smaller, shallower lakes—Lake Erie, for example—are at the greatest risk of quagga mussel invasion,” he added. “Our results could help show other researchers that the effects of mussels on large, deep lakes cannot be ignored and, more importantly, how they can be accounted for.”
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue University Extension.
Lincoln Park and I are both coming to the end of an exciting chapter this fall. As my internship with
IISG comes to a close, Phase 2 sediment remediation work in in Lincoln Park in Milwaukee is also finishing up.
Four years and more than 170,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment later, Lincoln Park is looking to reap the benefits of the newly cleaned Milwaukee River. As contractors work to remove equipment, sediment samples are being taken to ensure no contamination has been missed.
To commemorate this truly historic milestone, IISG environmental social scientist Caitie Nigrelli and I traveled to Milwaukee to spend some time on the river and celebrate the success with our clean-up partners. Hospitable as usual, Friends of Lincoln Park members took us around the city allowing us to catch a glimpse of the possibilities that environmental reinvestment holds for community revitalization.
Within the park, we took advantage of the warm fall weather for a canoe trip through the remediated portion of the river. As we paddled, perennial grasses and beaver-cut branches secluded us from Lincoln Park’s urban setting. We were not the only ones out experiencing the newly restored park; kill-deer, great blue herons, and other wildlife were also enjoying a clean habitat.
Although remediation work is complete, there is still much to be done within the park. Much like sediment remediation, successful ecosystem restoration is a long process. Started in 2012, the 11-acre Phase 1 restoration work is finally showing the fruits of its labor.
Many bees could be seen buzzing around native asters (see photo) and goldenrod on the shoreline at the west end of the park. Like Phase 1, restoration work in the East Oxbow of the river will bring a diversity of native plant species, stabilize the shoreline, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife.
After watching the sun set over the river, Caitie and I completed our day at the Friends of Lincoln Park restoration celebration. Over cake and ice cream, representatives from the Milwaukee County Parks and CH2M, an environmental consulting company, presented information on the remediation and restoration progress.
The neighborhood unity fostered through this river cleanup is impressive. As a new chapter begins for the river, park, and neighbors alike, seeds of passion and park investment are spreading, akin to the native seeds of restoration to come.
Over 200 bags of trash, some shopping carts, mattresses, and a port-o-let were removed from Milwaukee’s Lincoln Park earlier this month during an annual river cleanup led by Milwaukee Riverkeeper. The event drew nearly 3,500 residents and local officials to rivers across the city. Almost 100 of these volunteers were members of the Friends of Lincoln Park. Formed last October, this cleanup was the group’s first outreach project, with many more slated for 2015.
Members of the Lincoln Park community first came together in response to ongoing efforts to rid the Milwaukee River bottom of legacy contaminants like PCBs and PAHs. Phase two of the Great Lakes Legacy Act project was underway, and with the river making up such a large portion of the park, the community was taking notice. With support from focus groups conducted by Caitie McCoy and UW-Extension’s Gail Epping Overholt, residents were inspired to create a way to voice their thoughts and concerns on the direction of the park.
The result was the Lincoln Park Friends Group, who, in association with Milwaukee County Parks, the Park People, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Wisconsin Sea Grant, is now working to revitalize Lincoln Park in a way that brings together the surrounding community.
“Most members have grown up enjoying the parks,” said David Thomas, secretary for the Friends of Lincoln Park. “We all think of the parks as a valuable community resource.”
The group hopes to instill a similar sense of stewardship in other community members. Along with plans to clear out areas overgrown with invasive plants, some members have expressed an interest in creating youth groups to provide opportunities to learn how to fish or canoe and to get to know the park’s natural surroundings in general.
“There’s a ton of work to do, but we want to build organically,” Thomas added. “We want to build it slowly, and we want it to be strong and sustainable.”
Real-world, hands-on activities are bringing Great Lakes science alive for a group of Wisconsin middle school students. Our friends at Wisconsin Sea Grant have the story.
Two Wisconsin teachers have made exceptional use of the educational resources that Sea Grant has to offer. And not just resources from Wisconsin Sea Grant—the teachers have found valuable support from the Center for Great Lakes Literacy, a collaborative effort by educators in the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The teachers are Lynn Kurth and Cindy Byers. Kurth works as a science teacher for Prairie River Middle School in Merrill, Wis. Just a 50-minute drive away, Byers works as a science and reading teacher for Rosholt Middle School in Rosholt, Wis.
They met in 2011 during a week-long voyage on the Lake Guardian, a research vessel owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They were participating in a Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop, a program conducted by the Great Lakes Sea Grant programs through the former Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (which has become the Center for Great Lakes Literacy). They were part of a team of five colleagues who worked on a research project together. Kurth and Byers bonded over a Hydrolab—a large, tubular piece of water testing equipment—and it’s led to bigger and better things for both them, their students, and other teachers across the country.
The Hydrolab takes various water quality readings. Kurth and Byers were drawn to it because both of their schools are near rivers and the EPA was providing the device on loan for use with their classrooms after the cruise. They saw the opportunity to partner in the future.
It worked. “We supported each other’s teaching and enriched each other’s classrooms by having this collaboration,” Byers said. “We had the kids Skype with each other a couple of times and present the Hydrolab data they collected. Even though our schools are not that far apart, it seemed quite exotic to the kids and they were excited to use a piece of equipment that scientists use. A lot of the reasons we’ve been able to do so much with the program is that we’ve been supporting each other all along.”nce-in-a-lifetime learning experiences for students. In fact, 26 classes across the Great Lakes region took a break from their regular activities over the last year to video chat with the scientists behind the EPA Lake Guardian‘s annual monitoring cruises. Some students even took a guided virtual tour of the boat. And now a new group of teachers and non-formal educators have an opportunity to work with Sea Grant specialists to introduce activities like these into their aquatic sciences sections during the 2015 Shipboard Science Workshop on Lake Michigan. Applications for the 15 available spaces are due February 10.
Scientists from Central Michigan University’s Institute for Great Lakes Research (IGLR) are expanding their basin-wide Great Lakes coastal wetlands monitoring program with help from grant funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant programs. The program is one part of a collaborative project that brings together researchers from IGLR, Notre Dame, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The results will help natural resource managers better target protection and restoration efforts.
From the Midland Daily News:
They also will be able to help assess the importance of coastal wetlands as they relate to the food web of the Great Lakes ecosystem by studying otoliths, or fish ear bones, to determine where fish are obtaining energy for growth.
Otoliths grow daily, similar to rings found in the trunk of a tree. With the use of a precise laser beam, IGLR researchers can sample the chemical composition of targeted areas of the otoliths and relate this “chemical fingerprint” to specific coastal wetlands, even when fish are caught in the open water of the Great Lakes, far from any wetlands.
It is hoped that this research will result in a long-term, sustainable monitoring program aimed at restoring and protecting Great Lakes coastal wetlands, which provide a critical habitat for many species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and an essential spawning and nursery habitat for many fish species of ecological and economical importance to Michigan’s $7.5 billion commercial and sports fishing industry. Read more.
The research project is one of three awarded a combined total of $380,000 from IISG earlier this year. Additional projects seek to uncover the connections between sediment removal projects and a community’s ability to weather environmental hazards and identify why people adopt stormwater management practices. And IISG continues to fund strong research projects like these. In fact, last month we announced a new funding opportunity for research addressing key economic planning questions facing the Great Lakes region. Researchers may request up to $96,000 for 18 months. Proposals are due by 5 pm CST on Nov. 17, 2014. Read the full RFP for information on project and application requirements.