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Maintaining the flow of water from rivers, streams, and creeks all the way to the Great Lakes is critical to ensuring the health of the entire basin. Tributaries play a key role in shaping nearshore habitats, providing spawning habitat to fish, and transporting important materials and nutrients through inland aquatic systems. Yet, thousands of dams and hundreds of thousands of inappropriately designed road-stream crossings significantly restrict connectivity within the region’s rivers and between the rivers and the Great Lakes themselves. The scale of connectivity loss calls for action and also poses two significant challenges in the Great Lakes: the financial cost and the risk of increasing invasive species habitat. The content presented here is designed to support connectivity stakeholders in weighing carefully the benefits of reopening tributaries against the challenges, and acting collaboratively in priority areas.

Conservation Strategies to Restore Connectivity

A. Align region on goals for connectivity restoration and track progress to inform conservation activities

B. Focus restoration efforts to remove barriers where it would best support the desired health of aquatic species and minimize population increases of invasive species

C. Align funding to encourage removal of highest priority barriers and seek to increase funding availability

D. Establish and implement basin-wide standards for new and re-engineered crossings and passage at dams

E. Engage and educate decision makers and the general public to build support for policies and strategies to achieve conservation outcomes

Explore connectivity across Great Lakes Inform...

Knowledge Network
Knowledge Network
Learn more about migratory fish and the importance of connectivity for ecosystems
Data Catalog
Data Catalog
Explore scientific data catalogs related to connectivity in the Great Lakes Basin
Dynamic Maps
Dynamic Maps
Access online maps that explore connectivity challenges and solutions in the Great Lakes
Decision Tools
Decision Tools
Browse models and decision support tools that help address connectivity challenges
Assess & Adapt
Projects & Progress
Find projects and track progress towards goals for connectivity in the Great Lakes