On a beautiful August morning, a group of nearly 100 conservation leaders, government officials and concerned citizens gathered at the UW-Manitowoc campus for the inaugural Lake Michigan Day.
The event was held on August 14, 2014 and showcased opportunities for continued restoration and protection of Lake Michigan as well as the broader Great Lakes basin. It also highlighted the ongoing challenges facing the lakes and provided a venue for decision-makers and community leaders to engage with an array of stakeholders on issues facing the Great Lakes. Many local examples of restoration projects along the lake shore in Manitowoc were shared.
Elected officials like the Mayor of Manitowoc, Justin Nickels, and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin welcomed the group to the event and shared their strong commitment to Great Lakes restoration and protection.
Attendees also heard from Steve Galarneau from Wisconsin DNR Office of the Great Lakes Director; Todd Ambs, Campaign Director for the Healing Our Waters Coalition; Peter Annin, author and Board Member of The Nature Conservancy; Jim Hurley, Director, UW Sea Grant; and Jim Snitgen, Water Resources Team Leader with the Oneida Nation, about the important restoration work that is occurring in and around Lake Michigan and the complex, ongoing challenges that continue to face the Great Lakes.
Gathering Waters and several of Wisconsin’s land trusts that work in the Lake Michigan basin, including Glacial Lakes Conservancy, Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust, and the Baird Creek Preservation Foundation, were in attendance at the event. Shawn Graff from Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT), received a well earned Champion of Conservation Award for his and OWLT’s efforts and successes. Shawn and OWLT have helped to protect crucial habitat along the Lake Michigan shoreline, improve watershed health, and tackle significant invasive species challenges, among other projects and priorities.
Retiring-Congressman Tom Petri also received an award at the event for his longstanding, bi-partisan approach to Great Lakes issues. Representative Petri has been a consistent supporter of Great Lakes restoration and protection, and has worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative are a success.
Lake Michigan Day was organized and supported by the Lakeshore Natural Resources Partnership, the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, and Gathering Waters, among other local, state and regional partners.