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E-M:/ News From The Nature Conservancy: Great Lakes Compact Finalized



News From The Nature Conservancy

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    Contact: Melissa Soule

Oct. 3, 2008                                                    (517) 230-0818 or msoule.org

 

The Nature Conservancy Applauds Action to Finalize the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Compact
President Bush Signs Historic Agreement to Protect Great Lakes

                                                                                           

 LANSING, Mich.The world’s largest freshwater ecosystem will be better protected from water withdrawal and diversion with President Bush’s action today signing and finalizing legislation known as the Great Lakes Compact.

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.

           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.

            “It’s important to note that the Compact doesn’t specifically manage and regulate the Great Lakes – it only sets the stage for it to happen,” he said.

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 is going to do what it’s done for more than 50 years, which is to take the knowledge garnered by our scientists and others to inform policy makers and communities to help them build water management protocols that are good for human communities and natural communities,” Bowman said. “This is the concept of ‘Protecting Nature, Preserving Life’ in action!”

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 assure a healthy and resilient Great Lakes ecosystem where the connection between natural systems and the quality of human life is understood and valued,” according to “A Pledge of Action, Collaboration and Support” signed at the gathering.

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 Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working to protect the most ecologically important lands and waters around the world for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its 1 million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 117 million acres worldwide, including 360,000 acres in Michigan. For more information, visit http://nature.org/michigan.

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Rich Bowman explains the impact of the Compact in an online interview here and can be heard on MichiganNow.org