Funding will support events to restore wildlife habitat and waterways across Northern Michigan
Gaylord, MI— Conservation nonprofit Huron Pines was awarded $200,000 through the Consumers Energy Foundation’s Planet Award which aims to make a positive impact on Michigan’s land, water and air. The funding will help launch the Protect Wild Places program empowering Michigan communities to support land and water by partnering with Huron Pines to restore 5,000 acres of wildlife habitat and recreational land and 150 miles of waterways and Great Lakes shoreline.
“We’ve seen people embracing the outdoors and public access to nature in staggering numbers over the past year,” Huron Pines Executive Director Brad Jensen said. “Now is the time to turn enthusiasm for the outdoors into action to protect the wild places we all love. We’re also excited that this new effort aligns with our vision to support community-driven conservation.”
Huron Pines staff will work directly with local residents, municipalities and conservation partners to help communities build the infrastructure and skills needed to support the long-term health of their unique natural resources.
Northern Michigan is rich with wild places that are home to rare, threatened or endangered species like piping plover, Pitcher’s thistle, Blanding’s turtle, dwarf lake iris and Kirtland’s warbler. The Consumers Energy Planet Award is the first step in developing large-scale community programming that can support the health of the water and land on which these species rely.
The grant funding will support program development, community planning and hands-on stewardship opportunities across Northern Michigan. Example projects include threatened and endangered species monitoring, invasive species removal, native tree and shrub plantings, river restoration and school forest management. Events, whether online or in person, will be developed in partnership with community leaders and local organizations to inspire long-term investment in the conservation of wild places.
“The idea is to mix information with experience so participants will not only learn about natural resources, they will also get out on the land or in the water to put new skills into practice,” Huron Pines Community Program Director Abigail Ertel explained. “When we educate and empower communities to prioritize conservation, the impact goes far beyond the reach of a single event.”