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Michigan communities empowered to take action for Great Lakes protection

Huron Pines planner joins others to discuss storm water management plans for Rogers City. Photo credit: Huron Pines

(This week, MI Environment is featuring several articles from the State of the Great Lakes report. Today's article was written by Huron Pines, a nonprofit organization established to conserve and enhance Northern Michigan's natural resources.)

Places such as Rogers City, Alpena, and East Tawas, on the northern coast of Michigan, aren't just on Lake Huron — they ARE Lake Huron. The Great Lakes are built into their community identities. It's no different across the lake in Ontario, on the Bruce Peninsula and along the shores of Georgian Bay, where fresh water and natural resources define the landscape and shape the way of life.

That's why leaders on both sides of the lake are coming together to prioritize healthy water and a sustainable future for Lake Huron with the Lake Huron Forever program.

With support and leadership from the Community Foundation Grey Bruce, Bay Area Community Foundation, Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, and local conservation partners, Lake Huron Forever aims to create a unified voice and vision that inspires communities to put Lake Huron first in their resource allocation and city-planning, regardless of what side of the lake they live on.

Ontario and Michigan residents and First Nations partners can share expertise and work alongside community foundations and conservation partners to develop and implement green infrastructure projects and nature-based solutions — such as rain barrels and rain gardens — that will help keep Lake Huron healthy. The goal is for each community to be empowered to take the lead in Lake Huron protection with solutions that are customized for their own unique needs.

Facilitated by Huron Pines, a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization experienced in bringing people together for community and conservation, the Lake Huron Forever Campaign is designed to build relationships between people and water, between coastal and inland communities, and between the U.S. and Canada.

"The community-first approach to healthy water means decisions will be driven by the communities themselves and supported by their Lake Huron Forever partners," Brad Jensen, Executive Director of Huron Pines, explained. "It's our hope that the effort will raise awareness for the need to care for Lake Huron and invest in its health."

Stuart Reid of Community Foundation Grey Bruce in Ontario said: "People are surprised to learn that freshwater resources in the Great Lakes are not renewable. We need to work together to ensure the sustainability of our shared waters for the generations to come. Nature-based solutions for water management utilize both the latest technologies but also traditional knowledge from Indigenous peoples who have stewarded these waters from time immemorial."

Read the rest of the article in the State of the Great Lakes report.

Photo credit: Huron Pines

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