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GLIN==> The Nature Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy of Canada Release First-Ever Combined List of Critical Conservation Sites for the Great Lakes



Submitted by Christopher Anderson <canderson@tnc.org>


For Immediate Release Tuesday, March 14, 2006


The Nature Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy of Canada Release First-Ever Combined List of Critical Conservation Sites for the Great Lakes


CHICAGO- The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) Great Lakes Program and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) jointly announced today the release of the first Binational Conservation Blueprint for the Great Lakes; a plan that reveals areas in critical need of conservation in both the United States and Canada. Developed with leading scientific expertise from within the region, the Blueprint provides government agencies, businesses and concerned residents on both sides of the border with a roadmap to preserve the Great Lakes ecosystem.

"We're delighted to provide this blueprint to our partners in conservation," said John Andersen, director of the Conservancy's Great Lakes Program. "It will require the collaboration of many organizations, elected officials and community leaders in both nations to protect our natural heritage and restore this global freshwater treasure to a healthy, well-functioning system."

"The completion of this blueprint represents a major step forward for conservation of one of North America's most important areas of biodiversity," said NCC's Regional Vice President for Ontario, Michael Bradstreet. "Identifying priority natural areas for conservation action in the Great Lakes region is critical for devising effective strategies and building consensus on where we need to focus our efforts."

More than 500 sites within the Great Lakes basin have been identified as priorities for conservation including forests, coastlines, islands, wetlands, rivers and inland lakes. The Great Lakes ecosystem is threatened by altered water flows, invasive species, extraction of natural resources, climate change, and incompatible development, agricultural and forestry practices.

The Binational Conservation Blueprint for the Great Lakes is the first effort to map and analyze data on the variety of ecosystems and special biodiversity features across the entire Great Lakes basin. Based on the best science currently available, it brings together ecological assessments compiled across the eight Great Lake states and Ontario.

Cross-border collaboration to conserve many of these areas is already underway. Around Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River, TNC and NCC are working with Environment Canada, Cornell University, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other partners to develop a binational plan of action to restore an ecosystem that is in decline due to pollution, invasive species and altered water flows. In the Western Lake Erie Islands, TNC and NCC are working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, Ohio State University and others to identify and protect important stopover habitat for the millions of migratory birds that visit each spring and fall. In northwestern Ontario, TNC, NCC and Ontario Parks are working together to protect 750 acres along the Pigeon River. The work will safeguard the last 7 miles of unprotected shoreline along a 90-mile international river known as the Boundary Waters Voyageur Waterway.

The Great Lakes hold 95 percent of North America's surface fresh water and provide drinking water to 26 million people in the U.S. and Canada. The region's natural resources fuel the economy, clean the air, moderate the climate and provide a wealth of recreational opportunities including fishing, boating and swimming.


Contact: The Nature Conservancy Chris Anderson, (312) 218-0186 (cell) OR John Andersen, (312) 759-8017 ext. 15, (312) 953-2114 (cell), jandersen@tnc.org

Nature Conservancy of Canada
Erica Thompson, (705) 466-6533 (office)
(416) 670-7790 (cell)
erica.thompson@natureconservancy.ca

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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.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is a non-profit, non-advocacy organization that takes a business-like approach to land conservation and the preservation of biological diversity. Its plan of action involves partnership building and entering into creative conservation solutions with any individual, corporation, community group, conservation organization or government body that shares its passion. Since 1962, NCC and its supporters have protected more than 1.8 million acres of ecologically significant land nationwide and over 100,000 acres in Ontario alone.

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