States and Provinces

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For More Information

Matt Doss
Policy Director
Great Lakes Commission
734‐396‐6064
[email protected]

What the Great Lakes mean to Illinois

Lake Michigan is the backbone of the state of Illinois. Home to Chicago, one of the largest cities in the world, the state relies on the lake to provide seven million residents with clean drinking water every day. More than six million residents call the shores along Lake Michigan in Illinois home.

Recreation and Tourism

63 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan are enjoyed by Illinois residents and visitors, sustaining a vibrant tourism industry that draws 20 million people each year.

Visitors enjoy a variety of recreation opportunities including boating, fishing, and swimming. The recreation and tourism industry along the Illinois shoreline generates $3.2 billion annually and supports 33,000 jobs for the state.

Commercial Shipping

The Chicago Area Waterway System consists of over 100 miles of rivers and canals that connect Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, along with the Chicago River, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Cal-Sag Channel, the Lower Des Plaines, Illinois, and Calumet Rivers.

The Port of Chicago opens the system to a maritime shipping industry throughout the Great Lakes basin and the world beyond, generating nearly $439 million annually in revenue.The industry also generates  $166 million in taxes.

Solving Problems Facing Lake Michigan

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) builds on state and local efforts to solve problems facing Illinois’ Lake Michigan shoreline. Multiple local agencies and organizations along the Illinois shoreline have developed habitat restoration projects that will improve Lake Michigan’s environment and leverage it as a resource to generate jobs, provide new recreational opportunities, and enhance economic vitality in shoreline communities.

Federal, state, and local agencies have focused significant effort and GLRI resources on cleaning up the Waukegan Harbor Area of Concern – contaminated sediments have been cleaned up, three out of six beneficial use impairments have been removed, and the final three impairments are being evaluated for removal.

State and local entities in Illinois have been highly successful in securing funding under the GLRI and are preparing additional restoration projects for future funding.

Click the filter icon on the left side of the map to view projects by state or use the search bar to enter zip codes or addresses to narrow your search.

Click on the dots to learn more about specific projects, funding sources, restoration partners, and project outcomes.

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To see an expanded map of GLRI projects in Illinois and across the region visit click here. 

For More Information

Matt Doss
Policy Director
Great Lakes Commission
734‐396‐6064
[email protected]

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