President Barack Obama, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, in collaboration with 15 other federal agencies and with funding from Congress, have made restoring the Great Lakes a national priority. In February 2009, President Obama proposed $475 million for a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) that with continued funding from Congress has been implemented from 2010-present.
The overall goal of the GLRI program is to restore the Great Lakes and their coastal and riverine ecosystems by removing pervasive impairments that degrade aesthetics and wildlife habitats/fisheries, as well as those that threaten the public health of Great Lakes communities. The foremost objective of the GLRI program is the delisting of locations designated as Areas of Concern for their numerous impairments for normal use. The Saginaw River and Bay have been classified as an AOC since 1988. Pollutants from the entire Saginaw Bay Watershed have contributed to the degradation of the Saginaw River and Bay.
In 2010, the Planning & Zoning Center (PZC) at MSU was awarded a GLRI grant for implementing Low Impact Development pollution prevention strategies by local government in three pilot sub-watersheds of the Saginaw Bay--Cass River Watershed, Rife River Watershed, and Pigeon/Pinnebog River Watersheds.
In 2012, PZC was again awarded a GLRI grant to improve effectiveness of efforts to restore, remediate or prevent future negative impacts to Great Lakes water quality by partnership projects initiated by local governments and watershed-based conservation organizations. Alternative engagement techniques are being piloted and tested in two watersheds--Shiawassee River and Flint River Watershed.