Supporting conservation on Michigan’s coasts

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This guest post is from Kari Marciniak, director of strategic communications for The Nature Conservancy, Michigan Field Office

The Nature Conservancy is proud to partner with the DTE Energy Foundation to support conservation projects on both of Michigan’s coasts. The Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working in 70 countries around the world and all 50 states. Our mission is to conserve the lands and waters upon which all life depends. “We are very happy to be working with the DTE Energy Foundation in finding solutions to issues that have such a big impact on both people and nature,” noted Helen Taylor, the Conservancy’s state director in Michigan. “Our goal is to have healthy, resilient systems that can support Michigan’s iconic place as the Great Lakes state for generations to come.”

A $1 million grant from the DTE Energy Foundation will support wetlands conservation in Erie Marsh, near Monroe in southeast Michigan, green infrastructure in Detroit and dune restoration along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

At Erie Marsh, the grant will support cooperative management of invasive species across multiple partners and natural area, finalize the restoration of Erie Marsh and initiate an innovative wetland restoration project in adjacent North Maumee Bay.

In Detroit, the funds will support green infrastructure projects. Like many other aging cities across North America, Detroit faces infrastructure challenges around water. The city’s sewer system is combined to collect rainwater runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater in the same pipes. When heavy rains occur, the system’s capacity is overwhelmed, and contaminated waters flood basements and overflow into the Detroit River. With DTE Foundation’s support, The Nature Conservancy is taking a creative approach to solving the problem, and is positioning Detroit to be a leader and pioneer in the green infrastructure movement. Green infrastructure uses green space and natural plant material to absorb, retain, and slow stormwater runoff, improving water quality in adjacent rivers and lakes. It also provides benefits for local communities, as it creates attractive green spaces that provide recreational areas and neighborhood amenities and beautification.

On the coastline of western Michigan, this grant will support system-wide invasive species control and targeted land acquisition, and work to generate public awareness and legislative policy support for long-term coastal health.