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Great Lakes

Donor Spotlight

“Improving the quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region and across the country is our mission.” - Molly Flanagan, Joyce Foundation program officer.

Molly Flanagan is passionate about the Great Lakes — especially when she’s talking about the challenges they face and The Joyce Foundation’s drive to find common sense, cost effective solutions to restore their health.

“Improving the quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region and across the country is our mission,” said Flanagan, Joyce Foundation program officer. “And the Great Lakes are important to our lives. They supply drinking water to 40 million people, provide recreation opportunities and are vital to business and the economic development of communities.”

The Joyce Foundation has supported The Nature Conservancy’s Great Lakes work since 2006, with a recent focus on eliminating polluted run-off from farms and preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

“The flow of phosphorus and nitrogen into Western Lake Erie Basin has steadily increased in the past 15 years, causing massive algae blooms,” said Larry Clemens, the Conservancy’s assistant state director in Indiana, “Fish kills, fouled beaches and a growing dead zone in the central basin are just a few of the consequences.”

Joyce Foundation support has allowed us to expand our work in the basin where we’re introducing farmers to new drainage systems designed to mimic natural stream channels and deliver cleaner water from farm fields to Lake Erie,” Clemens added.

The Foundation has also helped the Conservancy build its Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species Program.

One of our goals is reducing the spread of invasive species into and from the Great Lakes basin through artificial hydrologic connections like the Chicago Area Waterway System,” said Lindsay Chadderton, Conservancy aquatic invasive species director. “The Joyce Foundation has helped us assess the invasion risk posed by waterway systems like the one in Chicago and develop the environmental DNA method used to monitor the spread of invasive species like Asian carp through this system.”

The Nature Conservancy is a recognized leader in working with a variety of agencies and organizations on sediment and nutrient reduction in watersheds and aquatic invasive species,” said Flanagan, “so it’s a natural partnership for The Joyce Foundation to work with the Conservancy to help solve these problems, which is essential in our pursuit of a healthy Great Lakes.”

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