Great Lakes Natural & Nature-Based Features Playbook

A guide to advance understanding of natural and nature-based features in the Great Lakes.


Great Lakes Natural & Nature-Based Features Playbook


Project Fact Sheet



Recent high lake levels have exposed the widespread vulnerability of the Great Lakes coastline. Increasingly frequent flooding and erosion cause property damage, endanger lives, and disrupt local economies. Natural and nature-based features (NNBF) are measures and techniques that can be incorporated into shoreline protection to reduce flood risk and improve the resilience of coastal and inland water systems. The current understanding of coastal NNBF focuses on ocean coastlines resulting in a lack of confidence in the applicability and cost-benefit of these measures for the Great Lakes.

The objective of this project is to develop a Great Lakes specific guide (“playbook”) to natural and nature-based features (NNBF) and multiple lines of defense (MLD) to improve future coastal resiliency. The guide will significantly advance the understanding of NNBF and MLD emerging technologies as applied to the entire Great Lakes region. The guide will provide additional needed confidence to federal, state, and local government agencies to plan, design, and implement sustainable, adaptable and cost-effective NNBF measures, either instead of, or in addition to, traditional structural and non-structural flood risk management practices. 

This project is led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering With Nature® Initiative which enables more sustainable delivery of economic, social, and environmental benefits associated with infrastructure.

The project kicked off in January 2023 and is a 3-year project. 


The Engineering With Nature initiative held a workshop in the USACE Chicago District to initiate the development of specific guidance and protocols for incorporating NNBF on the Great Lakes. The ultimate product from these workshops will be the Great Lakes NNBF Playbook. This new guidance for incorporating NNBF specifically on the Great Lakes will inform the overall Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study and expand the application of nature-based solutions.

Contribute to the Playbook through Survey123

Follow the link to share existing or ongoing efforts in the Great Lakes region. Results will be added to EWN ProMap.


Visit the Engineering With Nature Website for project updates and additional resources.