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Habitat Protection and Restoration

Apply for Active Grant Opportunities

The Habitat grant program provides funding to preserve essential habitat; protect, restore, and stabilize important fish habitats; and increase habitat availability. The GLFT pursues these efforts through investments in specific places with a degraded or vulnerable habitat, connectivity enhancements, and use of decision-support tools that suggest optimal strategies for investing in habitat. The RFP is planned for release annually in the winter.

The GLFT prioritizes its investments in capital projects such as fish passage, dam removal, and land acquisition to projects where the habitat opportunity is prime, other funders are contributing, long-term management is assured, and the proposed project has the strongest community support and interest.

Applicant Eligibility

Organizations eligible to apply for GLFT grants include nonprofit organizations, educational, and governmental (including tribal) organizations.

Project Eligibility

Initial project eligibility requirements include:

  • The primary purpose of the project must be to protect or restore habitat for Great Lakes fish.
  • Projects must be located in the Lake Michigan basin or within the state of Michigan. Projects in the Lake Michigan basin but outside of the state of Michigan (e.g., Indiana, Illinois, or Wisconsin) must be regionally significant for funding consideration.

Additional project-specific considerations, priorities, and requirements are provided in the Policies and How to Apply sections below. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact GLFT staff prior to submission of a grant proposal to discuss project eligibility, goals, and alignment with GLFT priorities. Staff are available to assist applicants with navigating the online grant proposal submission process.

Funding Priorities

The Trust’s priorities for the Habitat Protection and Restoration grant category are:

  1. Projects that offer an increase in long-term, sustainable, natural reproduction for species now supported by hatchery production—project benefits should be targeted toward salmonids and nonsalmonid predator game species.
  2. Projects that offer secondary benefits—for example, improved sea lamprey management or protection of state-listed threatened or endangered species—may be supported at a greater funding level.
  3. Applicants that use the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework (GLAHF), the Great Lakes Fishery Commission Barrier Removal Collaboration Suite, Fishwerks, existing field inventories, or similar tools to identify appropriate projects or as part of their proposed scopes of work.

Grant Calendar

Habitat History of Grantmaking

Since it was established, the trust has awarded approximately $16.0 million to preserve essential habitat; protect, restore, and stabilize important fish habitats; and increase habitat availability. These investments have included field inventories of barriers to fish passage, removal of dams and other barriers to fish passage, in-stream restoration, targeted acquisition to protect essential habitat, and other activities essential to protecting Great Lakes habitat.

View Habitat Grant Awards


Please review the GLFT Policy on Habitat and Restoration Grant Proposals before submitting an application under the Habitat grant program. The GLFT Board of Trustees has also established a number of additional policies regarding grants that may be applicable to applications submitted under the Habitat grant opportunity:

To review all of the grant-related policies for our multiple grant programs, please visit our Resources page.

Additional Documents

For additional information related to habitat decision support tools, please review Developing Decision-support Tools to Enhance Aquatic Connectivity in the Great Lakes Basin (2014).

How to Apply

The Habitat grant program RFP is released annually. Please review our Active Grant Opportunities to see which of our grant programs are currently accepting applications. The forms and instructions necessary to guide you through the application process are provided in the 2024 Habitat Protection and Restoration Guidance Document. If the Habitat program is not currently accepting proposals, the guidance document provides information on general program requirements for the next grant cycle.

Frequently Asked Questions

The RFP notes that a letter of support is required from a Department of Natural Resources or tribal fisheries biologist identifying which species the project will benefit. Do I need to submit this letter with my application?

Yes, a letter from a fisheries biologist must be submitted with your grant application. The application portal will provide a space to upload the letter as an attachment.

Where can I contact a fisheries biologist to request a letter of support identifying the benefitting species?

Please contact GLFT staff if you need assistance with connecting to a state or tribal fisheries biologist.

Can GLFT grant dollars be used as match funding for other funding sources?

Yes, the GLFT encourages grantees to use GLFT funding as match for other sources. GLFT funding can fulfill matching requirements of many state and federal funding programs that require sources of nongovernmental match funding.

What if my proposed project doesn’t have match-funding sources?

Match funding is not required; however, proposals that include local funding and promote community participation in the use of fishery resources will be favored.

Where can I find examples of previously funded habitat projects?

Examples of previously funded and completed projects can be found on the GLTF’s grant library page.

How do I identify management plans that are relevant to the proposed project site?

Check with your local unit of government for management plans that could align with your project, such as recreation, watershed, or community master plans.

Does the GLFT fund feasibility and early-stage design projects through its habitat program?

Yes, these projects have additional criteria for funding, which is outlined in the policy on feasibility, engineering, and design-only studies.

Does the GLFT fund land acquisition projects though its habitat program?

Yes, though land acquisition projects must conform with the GLFT’s policy on land acquisition and a grant application must provide evidence that the purchase cost is an essential component to protect critical habitat or restore Great Lakes wetlands.

I’m interested in submitting a proposal, but I see that the application period has closed. What can I do?

In most circumstances, the GLFT evaluates all proposals for each of our grant categories at the same time during the year. This helps ensure that requests are considered in the context of each other and that the proposals best aligned with GLFT priorities are funded. Our website is kept up to date with future application periods and the request for proposals from our most recent application period. These documents can be used to help begin developing a proposal. We encourage applicants to submit a proposal once the application period is open. If you feel that there are compounding factors that would require immediate action, you are encouraged to contact GLFT staff.

I’ve never submitted a proposal to the GLFT before. Should I spend the time to contact staff to discuss our project?

Yes, the GLFT encourages prospective applicants to contact staff when developing proposals. Staff can provide guidance that can help you align a proposal with GLFT priorities.

Can GLFT funding be used to support projects on inland lakes and streams?

Maybe, GLFT habitat funding is focused on enhancing the sustainability of Great Lakes fish populations. Projects must benefit Great Lakes fish populations. Generally, funding is limited to sites along the Great Lakes or within tributaries below the lowermost barrier. The GLFT may also consider barrier removal projects above the lowermost barrier if the effort supports a watershed-scale effort to enhance fish passage. For example, a community may decide to work from the headwaters downriver as it advances connectivity in a watershed.