New Great Lakes Partnership Has New Funding Model

Black Swamp Conservancy works locally. Our mission is here in northwest Ohio … day-to-day our team is focused on making this community a better place to live, work and play. But our local work holds lessons for conservationists across the Midwest, and we in turn can learn from other great organizations. We have just begun a new partnership with watersheds across the Great Lakes Basin, from our backyard in the Western Lake Erie basin, to the Saginaw Bay watershed (between the thumb and the mitten in Michigan), to the Lake Superior watershed that includes parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

We are coordinating with six other organizations on this project, working together to share expertise and knowledge, raising our game across the Great Lakes. In all cases, our goal is to identify, acquire, and protect land that is contributing excess nutrients and other pollutants to our rivers and lakes. Together, we will each be more successful in retiring marginal land and restoring it to hold and treat water naturally. Restored wetlands create wildlife habitat and recreation areas as well as reducing erosion and reducing algae growth in rivers and lakes.

The Black Swamp Conservancy will be a strong partner. We have already built a GIS (Geographic Information System) model that others can use as a jumping off point. The GIS system helps us sort through data to discover which land parcels have the most potential to contribute to water quality improvements. We’ve also built significant expertise in wetland, floodplain, and stream restoration to aid our partners.  

This new Great Lakes partnership is being led by the Freshwater Society and funded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund. What makes this program unique is that Freshwater is also building a new funding stream for conservation by creating a “cause marketing” program. A person buying a water bottle or sunhat might be more likely to pay a little more if they know that some of their money is helping to protect our Great Lakes.

This marketing program aims to bring in a whole new stream of funding from these people who will take positive steps to protect drinking water through simple consumer choices.