Great Lakes
An American bittern, a focal species in the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians’ secretive marshbird assessments, is seen among wetland vegetation. Photo by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

MI - Grants to focus on coastal protection

MARQUETTE — The Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians will develop a comprehensive inter-agency resilience plan that prioritizes coastal wetlands for protection and restoration in the St. Marys River, the Tribe announced.

The shorelines and coastal wetlands of the St. Marys River are subject to annual, intra-annual and hour-to-hour water level fluctuations related to lake level changes, storm events and frequent wakes created by cargo ships, all of which directly impact wetland communities and contribute to shoreline erosion, the Sault Tribe said.

The project will align and enhance strategic management of coastal wetlands across jurisdictional boundaries.

The grant was awarded through the National Coastal Resilience Fund, which awards grants that increase and strengthen natural infrastructure to protect coastal communities while also enhancing habitats for fish and wildlife, the Tribe said. NCRF is a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Shell Oil Company, TransRe, the EPA, AT&T and Occidental, with additional funding support from the U.S. Department of Defense.

“The Saint Marys River is the outflow of the largest freshwater lake in the world and the center of the Anishnaabe indigenous world,” said Eric Clark, lead wildlife biologist for the Sault Tribe’s wildlife program, in a news release. “The river boasts some of the best examples of intact freshwater coastal marsh ecosystems in the entire Great Lakes Basin and it is impossible to overstate their importance to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and our regional culture and economy.”

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