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Lake Huron Forever Initiative Advancing Water Quality Protection

The Lake Huron Forever Initiative, supported by several CMF members and community foundations and organizations in Canada, aims to advance water quality protection and healthy, sustainable communities on both sides of Lake Huron.

An aerial image of the Great Lakes

CMF members are partnering with several community foundations and environmental organizations in the state and Canada to advance water quality protection and healthy, sustainable communities through the Lake Huron Forever Initiative.

The initiative, supported by CMF members the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM), Bay Area Community Foundation, the Dow Chemical Company, Consumers Energy Foundation and the Great Lakes Protection Fund (GLPF), aims to support community conversation and collaboration in the design and implementation of on-the-ground work to strengthen the health and well-being of residents, as well as natural resources. 

“Beyond a doubt, the health of Lake Huron is a critical element to the health of the communities we serve here in northeast Michigan. We want to engage our communities and individual donors to rally support behind Lake Huron Forever,” Patrick Heraghty, executive director of CFNEM said.

The partnerships between community foundations along shoreline communities, including Canada, make the initiative the only one that is currently binational.

Huron Pines, Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, Lake Huron Coastal Centre and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy are also partners in this work, which Heraghty shared are on the ground supporting environmental protection and impact every day.

“Community foundations play a critical role in convening, but the expertise lies with our environmental partners. Their involvement is an essential piece of the puzzle needed for success,” Heraghty shared.

Heraghty shared that collaboration is essential when the impact of an initiative has the potential for significant impact.

“In the near future, another key element will be bringing our townships and municipalities to the table, as well as other nonprofits and individuals in the community to build and keep momentum,” Heraghty said.

The initiative is connected to the Great Lakes One Water Partnership (GLOW), which is supported by several CMF members. GLOW is a basin-wide initiative designed to help Great Lakes communities develop and implement projects that will secure the region’s water future. GLOW was initially created in 2016 through an investment from the GLPF.

Heraghty shared that in the coming years, the community foundation strives to engage communities and activate collaboration and partnerships to sustain a healthy Lake Huron through the initiative.

“We also want to ensure that we continue to act as a convener for like-minded individuals, businesses and organizations who seek to collaborate on tangible projects that will focus on Lake Huron, as well as provide an avenue and resource for our community to put charitable dollars toward this important cause that affects us all,” Heraghty said.

As a part of the Lake Huron Forever Initiative, CFNEM recently convened several organizations including CMF members for the One Water Gathering.

“Today confirms, for me, that collaboration requires passionate heroes and patient perseverance. Let’s commit ourselves to embracing Lake Huron every day,” Rob Collier, former president and CEO of CMF said at the gathering.

Collier created the Great Lakes Community Foundation Environmental Collaborative through the GLPF, the first-ever network of community foundation environmental programs in Great Lakes coastal cities, which launched a national movement of similar efforts.

He was awarded the 2021 Great Lakes Leadership Award through the GLPF for his efforts in driving change to improve the health of the Great Lakes.

The gathering featured a number of presenters on topics including green infrastructure for stormwater management, place-based education, project financing, engaging others in stewardship and more.

“It was quite inspiring to see so many people come together to learn more about the many ways work is already being done for Lake Huron. They genuinely also wanted to know what else could be done, and how to do it. That kind of passion is just what is needed,” Heraghty said.

Want more?

Learn more about the Lake Huron Forever initiative.

Learn more about the One Water Gathering.