Land and water policy in the U.S. is made up of complex rules, laws and agencies, which have developed over the last two hundred years, but do not completely reflect the way or scale that natural systems function. For example, rivers and watersheds are sometimes not limited to one area and can have impacts across many communities and states. Sometimes it can be difficult to successfully protect these lands and water due to limits from governmental boundaries.
The Great Lakes Project is developing approaches, tools and demonstrations, using experts’ knowledge of systems and achieving conservation outcomes at a scale that meets the needs of people and nature. It will inform decision-making and policy and help us improve land and water management in the Great Lakes and beyond.
The Nature Conservancy believes in the importance of developing a long-range natural resources investment, management, and economic strategy that must:
- Result in a long-lasting benefit for Great Lakes residents’ quality of life
- Deliver economic and environmental benefits, contributing to the economic recovery and sustainability of the Great Lakes Region
- Influence other financial resources, both public and private, while increasing regional cooperation
Guided by these principles, the Great Lakes Project is working with public and private partners to demonstrate what these principles look like through projects and demonstrations. These projects will strengthen our already long history of engagement in providing input to shape and strengthen important policy governing the Great Lakes today.
Examples of our efforts to strengthen existing policies include:
- Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Amendment (GLWQA)—providing information on a regionwide strategy.
- Great Lakes Compact Implementation—serving as a subject expert, facilitator and convener; providing technical assistance on water withdrawal management.
- U.S. Farm Bill—participating in state technical committees; partnering on local projects; assisting individual land managers with training, tools and advocacy.
- White House Council for Environmental Quality—engaging on national oceans policy that affects management of the Great Lakes.
- Aquatic Invasive Species—informing detection, response and management protocols of state and federal agencies.
- Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership—providing leadership, coordination and advocacy.
- Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Great Lakes Regional Collaboration—advocating for annual appropriations; informing regional restoration priorities; engaging with state and federal agencies to implement action plans and strategies.
- Sustainable Funding Mechanisms—exploring novel mechanisms that highlight ecosystem services stemming from conservation investments.
- Land and Water Conservation Fund—working to secure dedicated permanent funding.
Learn about Plan Bv7 – a new approach to regulation of water levels and flows
The Great Lakes compact is a legally binding agreement between the eight Great Lakes states and the U.S. government.