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 (CFNEM), Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network 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.

This portion of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary has an existing green roof to help prevent excess stormwater from reaching the nearby river. More space is available to expand the green roof, which will be assisted by a grant.

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.  

“Green roofs are a great example of how communities can work together to protect Lake Huron from stormwater runoff, conserve energy, and increase habitat for pollinators, while also creating healthier community spaces for education and engagement.”

Jeff Gray, Superintendent, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

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. 

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. Through a series of workshops, site visits and restoration events, residents of three shoreline municipalities will learn to prepare stewardship plans for their property and work together with the community to restore the beach-dune environment that supports long-term lake health. 

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.”

The view looking west from the green roof of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

“Lake Huron, our shared Great Lake, is an essential and incredible asset for all of the communities along its shores and beyond,” said CFNEM Executive Director Patrick Heraghty. “Seeing projects like these come to fruition that ensure the health of our lake is such a positive thing for our region and can only happen through strong partnerships like this.”

The Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is grateful to Huron Pines and the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan for facilitating the Lake Huron Forever initiative in Northeast Michigan, added Katie Wolf, Friends Liaison and Education and Community Outreach Coordinator. 

“We also appreciate the Council of Michigan Foundations and the Great Lakes Protection Fund for recognizing that protecting Lake Huron requires reaching across international borders. The expansion of our ‘living roof’ will serve as an outdoor classroom for area students and a regional demonstration site for builders, businesses and other organizations interested in ‘greening’ their buildings to protect our streams and lakes,” said Wolf.

Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary has worked with local partners from the start to serve as a model for incorporating green technologies and practices on the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center’s campus, according to Sanctuary Superintendent Jeff Gray.

“Green roofs are a great example of how communities can work together to protect Lake Huron from stormwater runoff, conserve energy, and increase habitat for pollinators, while also creating healthier community spaces for education and engagement,” Gray said.

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


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