Lake Superior State University Awarded Grant from U.S. Forest Service to Create Local Green Infrastructure

Lake Superior State University will implement the St. Marys River Green Stormwater Demonstration Project in 2021, creating the first green stormwater demonstration project along the St. Marys River and doing so at a former industrial brownfield site.

The $250,000 project will be located adjacent to LSSU’s Center for Freshwater Research and Education and the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s Alford Park. The university’s project is one of 27 recently funded projects through the U.S. Forest Service’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, under an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Projects were funded in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Wisconsin, totaling almost $4.5 million, and are designed to strategically target the biggest threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem and accelerate progress toward shared long-term restoration goals.

The St. Marys River Green Stormwater Demonstration Project will use green infrastructure to increase runoff infiltration and pollutant removal, create wildlife habitat in a unique riparian area, and provide community education opportunities on the importance of sustainable stormwater management. CFRE will engage students and the community and lead the development of rain gardens, pollinator habitats, and treescapes that will include approximately 50 new trees, 400 shrubs and more than 4,000 native flowers planted across the CFRE and Alford Park properties. Key partners in this project include the City of Sault Sainte Marie and the Chippewa Luce Mackinac Conservation District.

“This project will create high-impact experiences related to sustainability for our undergraduate students and our high school career and technology education students by engaging them in rain garden design and planting,” said CFRE Director Dr. Ashley Moerke. “This project is particularly exciting because it will help return a former industrial and contaminated site into a natural area that will more sustainably manage stormwater runoff and protect the water quality of the St. Marys River. The site will be an example used to guide sustainable waterfront development in the future.”

“Lake Superior State University recognizes the important role that it has in contributing to the protection and conservation of the natural environment that surrounds the area. It’s part of our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Great Lakes region. And sustainability is one of the pillars in our strategic plan,” said LSSU President Dr. Rodney S. Hanley.

“Through the support from the U.S. Forest Service Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the St. Marys River Green Stormwater Demonstration Project will help grow campus- and community-based sustainability initiatives focused on our cherished freshwater resources and give our students vital experiences in the process.” 

Lake Superior State University is one of Michigan’s most affordable public universities with One-Rate at Lake State tuition for all. Surrounded by three Great Lakes, LSSU is an unsurpassed location for research, innovation, and real-world experiences. Signature programs include fisheries and wildlife management, engineering, nursing, criminal justice, business, robotics engineering, and fire science.