Forming New Partnerships
The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC) is another example of the power of conservation partnerships. This program was established in 2004 when President George W. Bush issued an executive order creating a task force that brought together more than 1,500 organizations and individuals to provide strategic direction for restoring the Great Lakes watershed. In an amazing testament to the effectiveness of working collectively, a plan was produced in less than a year.
In 2010, Congress and President Obama provided hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the GLRC's strategic plan by creating the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). This initiative enlists the cooperation of federal, tribal, state, municipal, business, environmental, and conservation organizations. DU has been a major partner in the GLRI as well as in an affiliated group, the Healing Our Waters Coalition, which works to maintain funding and focus on Great Lakes restoration projects. In cooperation with these groups and more than 30 other partners, DU has already received 25 grants to conserve tens of thousands of acres of Great Lakes habitat vital to waterfowl, other wildlife, and regional water quality.
Wetland restoration projects are complex undertakings, demanding more resources, talents, and strengths than any single organization can contribute on its own. Consider, for example, the Black Creek Filter Marsh project in western Michigan. DU's partners in this GLRI-funded project included the Mona Lake Watershed Council, the Muskegon County Drain Commissioner, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the NRCS, Pheasants Forever, the Muskegon County Wastewater Facility, and the Annis Water Institute, among others. These diverse groups contributed money, expertise, and services to restore wetlands, filter 30 square miles of farm runoff, improve grassland nesting habitat, and improve water quality downstream in Mona Lake. By working together, these partners not only accomplished their own missions, but also had a collective impact on the resource that is far greater than what any one partner could have accomplished by itself.