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Our Policy Work

Beginning in 1982, NWF’s Great Lakes Regional Center has built an exceptional team with deep knowledge of our region’s conservation challenges. When environmental threats arise, we have the tools and knowledge to respond and win important victories to protect our shared resources. When communities are healthy, wildlife will flourish too. We believe that in order to save wildlife and ourselves, we need to ensure that all people have access to nature, clean air and water, and safe communities, and are protected from the ravages of climate change. Recognizing these basic, urgent needs, shared equally by everybody, is foundational to bringing the conservation movement and ethos into the 21st century.

The Great Lakes Regional Center (GLRC) of the National Wildlife Federation works on critical national and regional water resource issues with a particular focus on protecting and restoring our Great Lakes and other waterbodies. Protecting water also means protecting the health and quality of the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems as well as the human communities that depend upon them.

About Our Region

The Great Lakes Regional Center works in 6 states.

With our main office in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we want to offer a land acknowledgment to honor the indigenous people upon whose territory we reside and with whom we proudly partner on many issues.

Why recognize the land?

"To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honoring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. It is important to understand the long standing history that has brought you to reside on the land, and to seek to understand your place within that history. Land acknowledgments do not exist in a past tense, or historical context: colonialism is a current ongoing process, and we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation. It is also worth noting that acknowledging the land is Indigenous".  Native American and Indigenous Initiative 

Ann Arbor Land Acknowledgment

The land the City of Ann Arbor occupies is the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Anishinaabeg – (including Odawa, Ojibwe and Boodewadomi) and Wyandot peoples. I further acknowledge that our City stands, like almost all property in the United States, on lands obtained, generally in unconscionable ways, from indigenous peoples. The taking of this land was formalized by the Treaty of Detroit in 1807. Knowing where we live, work, study, and recreate does not change the past, but a thorough understanding of the ongoing consequences of this past can empower us in our work to create a future that supports human flourishing and justice for all individuals

Learn more about the land you inhabit and existing land treaties here.

Our Commitment to Racial Equity and Justice

Wildlife will only thrive when human communities are healthy and equitable. Polluted rivers and streams prevent fish from thriving and clean water from flowing. Dirty air and invasive plants make it hard for wildlife to live healthy lives and for people to breathe. And when people are disconnected from one another — whether through historic injustices, racism, or lack of resources to live full lives — healthy communities and healthy habitats cannot reach their potential. Only by confronting these barriers and biases head-on will we be able to meaningfully and effectively achieve our conservation goals.

NWF and NWF’s Great Lakes Regional Center have made a commitment to center equity and  justice in all of our work. We are focusing on racial equity and becoming an anti-racist organization both internally and in our partnerships and advocacy work. Our mission depends on it: We will only succeed if people of all backgrounds are fully represented with no systemic barriers to participation. Equity and Justice 2020 Strategic Plan

Our Unique Approach – Affiliates and Coalitions

NWF’s Great Lakes Regional Center continually finds creative solutions to the threats facing our waters, wildlife and natural environment. The majority of people in the region care about natural resources, and we have the unique ability to bring them together to advance the cause. We are effective because we cultivate strong relationships and find common ground with individuals and elected leaders across the political spectrum. Together, we identify pragmatic solutions that transcend ideological differences. Safe and healthy water resources, wildlife and communities are a cause everybody can get behind.

Issues We Work On

Climate change, toxic chemicals, runoff pollution, land use changes invasive species and decades of bad policy decisions have created a water and wildlife crisis in the Great Lakes region, threatening the wildlife and people who make their homes here. The safety and quality of our natural resources and communities have never been more vulnerable than they are today.  We prioritize 8 issues for our policy and advocacy work to address these problems.

Restoring the Great Lakes

The National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes Regional Center is the nation's leader in efforts to restore and protect the Great Lakes. A staple of this work lies within the Healing Our Waters (HOW) - Great Lakes Coalition, an effort co-led by the National Wildlife Federation and the National Parks Conservation Association. The coalition is the gathering point for over 145 Great Lakes organizations and leaders, and catalyzes the critical conversations about the future of the region. The most successful conservation coalition of our time, the HOW Coalition has secured over $3 billion of federal funding for the implementation of a comprehensive restoration plan for the Great Lakes. The coalition's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has supported over 3,500 restoration projects that are healing the lakes and revitalizing local economies across the Great Lakes basin.

Protecting Water Resources

We are leading the fight to stop invasive carp from entering the Great Lakes and preventing new invaders that hitchhike in ships’ ballast water. Our efforts on the Great Lakes Compact continue to ensure that enough water is flowing in streams for salmon and steelhead to run and fish to thrive in the Great Lakes. The National Wildlife Federation is a leader in addressing the adverse impacts of sulfide mining in places like the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area, and possible oil spills in the Great Lakes from Enbridge's Line 5. We're also fostering partnerships to increase efforts to prevent harmful algal blooms from damaging our Great Lakes, and working to reduce toxic chemical threats to fish and wildlife.

Protecting Wildlife and Habitat

As the National Wildlife Federation, wildlife and wildlife-specific work is woven through all that we do. We work to increase the health and resiliency of human and ecological communities in the Great Lakes region.  We accomplish this by creating and supporting community-based projects and programs and by working with our affiliates and partners at the state, regional, and national level to advance conservation-based policies and programs for wildlife and their habitats, and the public lands essential for people to access and interact with them. We utilize National Wildlife Federation programs such as Garden for Wildlife, Community Wildlife Habitat, Eco-Schools USA, and the collaborative Monarch Recovery Networks as the foundations for our habitat and education work.

Advocating for Climate Resilience

Our climate work expands upon our significant work of building public understanding, recruiting allies, and power-building in support of climate mitigation policies across the region, from national climate action and methane campaigns to state affiliate climate efforts. We are engaged in clean energy policy at all levels and seek to re-engage the RE-AMP Network.  We work on urban, rural, regional, and national climate resiliency projects—especially those relating to green infrastructure—to yield broad and significant co-benefits, leveraging unique National Wildlife Federation programs such as Garden for Wildlife, Sacred Grounds, Eco-Schools USA, and our national urban initiatives.

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Where We Work

More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. The National Wildlife Federation is on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.

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