What We Do to Protect the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a breathtaking and unique natural resource. More than 35 million people in eight states and Canada depend on the Lakes for their drinking water. The Great Lakes are the world’s largest surface freshwater ecosystem and contain 20 percent of all surface freshwater on the planet.
The five lakes – Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario – are home to numerous fish such as walleye, whitefish, trout and lake sturgeon. The Great Lakes watershed provides habitat for wildlife, including the gray wolf, Canada lynx and the millions of migratory birds that pass through in the spring and fall.
But, the Great Lakes are fragile and face serious threats from invasive species, toxins, water diversion, wetland destruction, sewage overflows and climate change.
At the Great Lakes Regional Center, NWF works to...
Restore the Great Lakes - As the co-chair of the 120-organization Healing Our Waters® - Great Lakes Coalition, NWF is working to enact and fund the comprehensive plan to restore the Lakes that aims to clean up toxic sediments; protect and restore wildlife habitat and wetlands; reduce polluted runoff; halt new invasive species; and stop sewage from contaminating the Lakes. Our efforts have brought billions in new funding to Great Lakes cleanup projects that restore the Great Lakes, protect wildlife habitat and revitalize the economy.
Stop Invasive Species - NWF is leading the charge to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes by advocating for the permanent separation of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River basin. We are working to stem the tide of invasive species in ballast water tanks of seafaring ships by promoting effective legislation and pursuing legal challenges to ensure that the Clean Water Act is upheld.
Save Lake Superior From Sulfide Mining - Sulfide mining is a dangerous form of mining that has a legacy of decimating water resources. NWF is defending a premier tributary of Lake Superior from proposed sulfide mining directly beneath its waters. The outcome could set a precedent for future sulfide mining that determines the health of Lake Superior for generations.
Safeguard the Great Lakes From the Effects of Climate Change - As one of the first groups in the region to work on climate change adaptation, NWF is taking the lead to assess vulnerability, create policies, and design “climate-smart” restoration and conservation projects that protect wildlife in the Great Lakes from climate change. Our partners include the Healing Our Waters® - Great Lakes Coalition, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes LCC. Learn more at www.nwf.org/climate-smart.
Reduce the Pollution Causing Climate Change - The Great Lakes Regional Center is a hub for climate policy advocacy from city halls, to state capitols, to Washington, D.C. We defend the Clean Air Act, lead the fight to reduce mercury emissions from coal-burning powerplants, and support breakthrough solutions on fuel efficiency, renewable energy and energy efficiency that reduce the pollution that harms our waters and wildlife.
Defend the Great Lakes from Oil Pipeline Spills – The Great Lakes are threatened by oil spills, ageing pipelines and increased imports of raw tar sands oil. National Wildlife Federation is dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes from becoming the next oil spill victim by making sure pipeline networks are properly regulated and by working to preventing new dangerous pipelines in the Great Lakes region.
Protect Water in the Lakes with the Great Lakes Compact - National Wildlife Federation recently met one of the most important challenges to the Great Lakes--preventing outside interests from hooking up pipelines to divert water out of the region. Thanks to 10 years of hard work by the NWF, the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact was enacted in 2008. NWF continues to lead efforts to implement the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact in all eight Great Lakes states.
Guard Water Quality - NWF is working to guard wildlife and human health by keeping our Great Lakes and waterways clean. We have had many successes in stemming pollution in the past, but today we face a new challenge: excessive nutrients from farm fertilizer and manure. Lake Erie, in particular, experiences massive toxic algal blooms from excess nutrients. NWF works with a number of partners, including the Western Lake Erie Basin Partnership, scientists, farmers, businesses, land managers, and restoration experts to find solutions that guard Great Lakes water quality.
Revitalizing the Huron River Corridor in Southeast Michigan - The National Wildlife Federation is a leader in the new RiverUp! project to fix up recreation infrastructure, clean up areas in need of restoration, and build up destination spots that bring people to the riverfront. Along with partner organizations and leaders in the community, we are rejuvinating the Huron River as a destination for local residents and tourists.
Improve the Environments Where People Live - Through our Midwest Urban Initiative, NWF is working in the Great Lakes region's largest urban centers and communities of color to help strengthen the work being done on energy and sustainability; green job development; air and water quality; brown field and hazardous waste clean-up; and environmental justice issues.
Connect Kids with Nature – In the Great Lakes region, NWF is building a grassroots online and on-the-ground kids and wildlife community of cause of parents and other adults to meaningfully foster the next generation of wildlife and conservation stewards and builds toward our goal of getting 10 million kids outdoors. We are leading a movement of diverse stakeholders to coordinate efforts across Michigan and change state policies to get the over 1.5 million kids enrolled in public schools learning and growing outdoors. NWF is helping children across the nation regain their connection to the natural world.