Interviews illuminate impacts of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a United States’ federal program designed to improve the Great Lakes by restoring the region’s most polluted harbors and coastal landscapes. To see how GLRI funds caused changes in the built environment and to attitudes toward place, semi-structured interviews were conducted with private- and public-sector leaders. Case studies are four EPA-designated Areas of Concern receiving substantial GLRI funds in Buffalo, New York; Duluth-Superior, Minnesota and Wisconsin; Muskegon, Michigan, and Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Results show that GLRI serves as a catalyst in three principal ways: The program leveraged local and state funds, both private and public. GLRI also leads to greater socio-spatial consciousness regarding rehabilitated places. Also, GLRI had led to stronger and deeper senses of place. This study reveals interviews help to calculate a more holistic return on investment for a prominent federal program. This study offers a way forward for ecosystem services research to take a more holistic view than has traditionally been done, in that semi-structured interviews illuminate impacts that traditional economic modeling alone cannot. Concurrently, this research is an example of how a prominent federal program affects community perceptions integral to holistic coastal planning processes.
- ecosystem services
- human-environmental interactions
- sense of place