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GLIN==> The Nature Conservancy News Release



For Immediate Release:  July 15, 2003

Contact:  John A. Andersen, Jr., Great Lakes Director, The Nature Conservancy (312) 759-8017 ext. 15

News Release:  Great Lakes Restoration Gets the Attention of Congress:  The Nature Conservancy Supports Concern for Protecting the Great Lakes Ecoregion

Chicago, IL — The Nature Conservancy is encouraged by ongoing Congressional interest in a comprehensive and coordinated restoration of the Great Lakes watershed -- reinforcing the knowledge that the lakes are key to the health of United States and Canadian populations and to economic growth.

"We appreciate and support the interest that Congressional leaders are taking in this valuable natural resource. The Great Lakes are a resource for millions of people and are critical to the economic and ecological sustainability of the Great Lakes states, the region, and the two countries," said John Andersen, director of the Conservancy's Great Lakes Program. The Conservancy is a science-based conservation organization that directs its work using ecoregional plans. These plans identify priority areas for conservation. "We will need to have a coordinated approach, that incorporates mutually acceptable priorities, to restore the natural systems that support these lakes and the entire ecosystem. Public support will be essential for success," Andersen said.

Ongoing threats to the Great Lakes watershed come from extensive urban development, invasive species, altered water flows, and incompatible agricultural uses. A successful Great Lakes restoration program would need to address key issues such as protecting the river corridors of major tributaries, coastal wetland restoration, control and prevention of aquatic invasive species, and a plan for future sustainable water use. "Working together and sharing valuable resources and knowledge will help us to protect our natural resources. It’s the region’s natural biodiversity that forms the foundation of our ecology and our economy." Andersen said.

The Nature Conservancy-led Great Lakes Ecoregional Plan is one of a number of plans developed in the past decade that identify high quality ecosystems in all or part of the Great Lakes basin. Andersen reported that "the Conservancy is working with regional agency and non-governmental partners to compile and compare the full range of regional planning efforts to develop a set of shared conservation priorities for guiding Great Lakes protection and restoration."

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The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization that preserves the plants, animals and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 14 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit us on the Web at nature.org.