Top environmentalists from around the region are attending a lakewide summit this fall to seize on the convergence of three major policy initiatives to protect the Great Lakes. More than 20 environmental groups signed on to attend the eighth annual summit Nov. 21-22 at the prestigious Wingspread Conference Center in Racine,Wisconsin. Co-hosted by the Lake Michigan Federation and the Johnson Foundation, “Lakewide Summit 2004: Community- Based Restoration for Lake Michigan,” will focus on three critical Great Lakes policies now in the offing:
• The Great Lakes Basin Water Resources Compact: A binational agreement released this summer in draft form to promote sustainable water use and discourage harmful withdrawals and diversions of Great Lakes water inside and outside the basin.
• Great Lakes Restoration: Federal legislation for the Great Lakes that, if adopted, would set the standard for Great Lakes health and provide billions in federal funding to help make cleanup and rehabilitation a reality.
• Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement: A landmark binational agreement to restore and maintain the integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem; the United States and Canada are considering renegotiating the agreement.
Thirty years of efforts at the federal and state levels have resulted in important – yet limited – progress in restoring Great Lakes health. Networks of local groups can make a real contribution to long-term restoration, notes Jamie Morton, manager of outreach programs for the Federation.
Ann Brasie, executive director of the Watershed Center in Traverse City, Mich., agrees. “Often I am so caught up in day-to-day operations and projects that it is hard to keep up with basin-wide policy issues that affect the Grand Traverse Bay watershed,” she says. “The summit is a great way to learn more about these policies and how we can carry them out at the local level.”
This year’s summit will capitalize on a rare window of opportunity to make real and lasting progress for the Great Lakes. The conference will be devoted to developing an “action agenda” to ensure adoption of the pending policy reforms, with an emphasis on successful approaches to current community-based restoration efforts.
For more information, contact Jamie Morton at jmorton@lakemichigan. org or 616-850-0745 ext. 12.