Great Lakes

Donor Spotlight - Jim and Jane Watermolen

“We like the way the Conservancy is working with so many groups in this very large watershed toward a common goal.” – Jim and Jane Watermolen

Jim and Jane Watermolen love the woods and waters of the Green Bay area where they grew up. Jim learned to hunt and fish there from his dad, uncles and grandfather. Jane was a “city girl” who enjoyed hanging out in bits of nature like the empty lot next door with the big old hickory trees and pollywog pond.

“When I was young, my parents had a cottage on Green Bay,” said Jim. “The water was really low back then, dead alewives piled up on the shore and carp filled the bay. I’ve seen a lot of improvement since the fifties and sixties, but there’s still work to do.”

With support from donors like the Watermolens, The Nature Conservancy and its partners in Wisconsin and Michigan are improving the health of Green Bay for people and nature. One aspect of the project is protecting and restoring coastal wetlands.

“Coastal wetlands are critical to the health of Green Bay and the entire Great Lakes system,” said Nicole Van Helden, the Conservancy’s Green Bay watershed project director. “They clean polluted water, intercept waste, protect our shorelines from erosion and serve as nurseries for fish and other aquatic life.”

The Conservancy has developed an online tool to identify and prioritize coastal wetlands for protection and restoration based on the work they do. From soaking up flood waters during heavy storms to providing spawning habitat for northern pike and other native fish, understanding the “jobs” wetlands do for people and nature helps us identify where and how wetland conservation can improve the health of Green Bay.

“We’re in the process of sharing this tool with public agencies as well as land trusts throughout the watershed to help them prioritize their conservation efforts,” Van Helden added. “Taken together, our individual efforts will add up to a big difference in Green Bay.”

“We like the way the Conservancy is working with so many groups in this very large watershed toward a common goal,” said Jane. “By reaching out broadly, they are connecting people with nature. And that’s important because you won’t protect what you don’t know and love.”

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