Conservancy applauds finalizing of Great Lakes Compact
Tue, Mar 24 2009 at 12:20 PM
By The Nature Conservancy
The world’s largest freshwater ecosystem is now better protected from water withdrawal and diversion with the October 2008 signing and finalizing legislation known as the Great Lakes Compact.
The Compact sets the stage for The Nature Conservancy and others to begin having discussions with the states on ways to better manage these globally significant water resources in a way that recognizes and protects biological function, according to Rich Bowman, chair of The Nature Conservancy’s Great Lakes Public Policy Team.
Bowman served on a team appointed by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to develop a statewide management program that considers the biological function supported by water and sets a precedent for determining the effects of water withdrawal.
The Nature Conservancy recently convened its first-ever meeting of scientists, business leaders and conservationists from around the Great Lakes basin to support and commit to its 10-Year Vision for the Great Lakes. At the close of the conference, more than 260 people promised to ensure a Great Lakes ecosystem with a connection between natural systems are protected.
The organization intends to work towards this goal by protecting a network of 1 million acres of natural areas, 20 priority watersheds and 15 coastal areas within the Great Lakes basin, thereby making the Great Lakes one of the best-managed ecosystems in the world and a model for other large lakes of the world.
The Senate had unanimously passed the Compact in early August, and the House of Representatives passed it with a majority vote in late September. This federal action came after years of state legislatures from around the Great Lakes basin working towards and approving the Compact in an historic, collaborative and bipartisan effort. The Canadian government has also voluntarily agreed to the Compact’s provisions to protect the binational waters.
“Passing the Compact helps us all breathe a sigh of relief that the federal government agrees with the states around the basin that are concerned about the protection of this significant natural resource,” said Helen Taylor, state director in Michigan for The Nature Conservancy.
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