Lake Huron Forever Initiative Awards $50,000 to Support Great Lakes Health

The Lake Huron Forever initiative was developed in 2019 by shoreline community foundation and conservation partners from the United States and Canada to advance water quality protection and healthy sustainable communities on both sides of the lake. Facilitated by Northeast Michigan conservation nonprofit Huron Pines, the Lake Huron partners—Bay Area Community Foundation, Community Foundation Grey Bruce, Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN) are excited to announce the recipients of the first $50,000 of coastal project funding.

Friends of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy in Bay City and the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation in Goderich, Ontario have been awarded funding to support projects that will improve Great Lakes health.

“We know what we do in local communities impacts the greater Lake Huron basin,” said Diane Fong, president and CEO of Bay Area Community Foundation. “The Lake Huron Forever Initiative recognizes this fact and provides an opportunity to bring local projects to scale with partners throughout the Lake Huron region both stateside and in Canada.”

Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy received $15,000 to work with local communities to develop a set of recommendations for amending local ordinances that support green infrastructure to reduce runoff contamination and slow the fast flush of rainwater into Bay County rivers and lakes. The funding will also aid in site selection and engineering design for a pilot project to model green infrastructure improvements for bay area communities.

“Rarely do we have the opportunity to work directly with community leaders to create policy recommendations that could help protect nature so immediately,” said Zachary Branigan, executive director at Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy. “The Lake Huron Forever grant will empower us to address runoff and flash-flooding where they start, in the developed areas of our watershed. We believe that we can make a difference today so that restoration or more drastic actions may never be necessary.”

The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation in Ontario received $10,000 to support their Green Ribbon Champion program, a restoration and stewardship program providing advice, support, and resources to shoreline residents. Friends of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary received $25,000 to expand their existing “living roof” project to maximize the overall green roof footprint and cover as much available roof surface space as possible with vegetation to reduce the impact of stormwater runoff on the Thunder Bay River and Lake Huron.

Lake Huron Forever started with partners from Canada and the U.S. looking at water quality challenges faced by communities on both sides of the lake. The Lake Huron Forever initiative aims to support community conversation and action to design and complete on-the-ground work to strengthen the health and well-being of residents, as well as natural resources.

“The spirit of this initiative is for communities throughout the Lake Huron watershed to come together in support of healthy water, so we were pleased to see project proposals come through from both sides of Lake Huron, covering many of the counties served by our Community Foundation partners,” said Abigail Ertel, Community Program Lead with Huron Pines. “This is just the first round of project funding and already we’re seeing and supporting a variety of approaches to addressing stormwater issues along the coast.”

This funding opportunity is made possible through a partnership with the Council of Michigan Foundations and the Great Lakes Protection Fund.