A synthesis of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative according to the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation

Matthew Jurjonas, Christopher A. May, Bradley J. Cardinale, Stephanie Kyriakakis, Douglas R. Pearsall, Patrick J. Doran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), designed to restore and protect the ecology of the Laurentian Great Lakes, is one of the largest environmental funding programs in the United States. Over 5,400 grants have been awarded in the last 11 years (2010–2020), representing over $3.5 billion in federal spending. A publicly available database that contains a written description about each grant is available online. However, analysis cannot easily be performed given that the descriptions are only textual. Therefore, we applied a modified version of the Conservation Action Classification (CAC 2.0), an established framework from the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, to synthesize the number of restoration actions, target species, and specific threats mentioned using thematic content analysis. The framework was modified to expand the CAC 2.0 by adding actions specific to GLRI. For example, we created typologies for the monitoring performed, site stewardship actions, and maritime ballast management practices. Based on this tally, we provide a summary of all the GLRI efforts to date. In addition to the more widely known restoration actions, we also describe the extent of educational, capacity building, and the non-monetary value projects that considered human wellbeing and/or focused on traditional ecological knowledge, recreation, or public outreach and engagement. Finally, we conclude with a discussion about the state of GLRI, the extent of the social or community-oriented efforts, and possible areas for adaptive management. This systematic coding process, and our shared supplementary data, can assist future GLRI research and strategic planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1417-1431
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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