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Helen Taylor

Nature Conservancy protects Great Lakes System on all fronts: forests, coasts, watersheds, food web

Helen Taylor talks with Kirk Heinze

By Laura Young

The Great Lakes not only supply 20% of the world's fresh surface water, but also make Michigan the unique place we call home.  As it celebrates its 60th anniversary, the Nature Conservancy, has protected over a million acres in Michigan.
Helen Taylor is the Director of the Nature Conservancy's Michigan Chapter and also serves as the Chair on the Board of the Great Lakes Project
Not only does the Nature Conservancy collaborate with businesses, government agencies and other conservation organizations , but works with all eight Great Lakes states to form a comprehensive and holistic approach to protecting our Great Lakes system.
"In order to ensure the health of the Great Lakes…we have to be sure that our investments and those of other conservation partners and land and water managers are adding up to the health of the whole system," says Taylor.
Under the Great Lakes Project, the Nature Conservancy focuses its protection efforts on four critical components of the Great Lakes System: forests, coastal areas, watersheds and food web.  To accomplish this, the Great Lakes Project established pilot sites that will act as learning laboratories for conservation practices throughout the Great Lakes region
"Pilot projects...are giving us the knowledge and examples of real tangibles outcomes that we can measure and then replicate throughout the Great Lakes project," says Taylor. 
The organization's work in our northern forests  proves an excellent example of their conservation strategy.  In the past ten years, the Nature Conservancy has put 271,000 acres of our Northern forests forest into protection, making it the largest conservation project in Michigan's history.  Roughly 10% of those acres are dedicated solely to a sustainable forestry learning laboratory. 
Dealing with threats of climate change and invasive aquatic species are the final components of the Great Lakes Project.  In partnership with the University of Notre Dame, the Nature Conservancy has created a "climate collaboratorium"  as a decision making tool for anticipating the impacts of climate change. 
"We're trying to better aggregate the knowledge that's there…We want to make sure that city and watershed managers have the best information possible in order to make long-term decisions that have long-term lasting effects," says Taylor.

While trying to prevent, detect and eradicate aquatic invasive species, the Conservancy also evaluates current responses to invasive threats to determine their effectiveness.  Just as imperative are the organization’s efforts in seeking broad-reaching policy.
“This is an issue that has to be addressed collectively by the eight states. We support efforts to help state leadership come together to plan, prepare and protect the Great Lakes from aquatic invasive species,” says Taylor. 

Please click on the arrow above to hear Taylor's Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk Heinze.

Greening of the Great Lakes airs each weekend on News/Talk 760 WJR and around the state on the Michigan Talk Network.

Please "like" Greening of the Great Lakes on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


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