GREAT LAKES COALITION LAUNCHED WITH $5 MILLION GRANT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact:     Mark Van Putten                Terri McCarthy
                  ConservationStrategy®      Wege Foundation
                  (703) 444-1522                      (616) 957-0480 x202

Listen to the story on the Great Lakes Radio Consortium.

Grand Rapids, Michigan (October 14, 2004) – Peter M. Wege and the Wege Foundation announced today a $5 million, five-year grant launching a Great Lakes Coalition to build public support nationally to restore America’s greatest freshwater resource, the Great Lakes. Among the largest private foundation grants ever for Great Lakes protection, it follows the historic “Healing Our Waters” summit of May 2004, which set forth an agenda for federal government action and funding to restore the Great Lakes.

“The Healing Our Waters agenda is the Magna Carta for Great Lakes restoration,” said Wege Foundation President Peter M. Wege. “The mission of the Great Lakes Coalition will be to turn this agenda into real policies that will restore our Great Lakes.”

The Healing Our Waters agenda, described at www.healingourwaters.org, calls upon the U.S. federal government to take the lead role in coordinating Great Lakes protection, especially in restoring water quality, preventing and controlling non-native aquatic invasive species, and cleaning-up areas of concentrated toxic pollution.

The Great Lakes Coalition will be a broad-based network of national, regional and state organizations dedicated to Great Lakes restoration. It will include a technical advisory committee comprised of scientists, business leaders, economists and other experts. The Coalition will be organized by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) of Washington, DC, which will serve as national fiscal agent for the grant, and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), which will serve as regional fiscal agent through NWF’s Great Lakes Natural Resources Center in Michigan.

“The Great Lakes are national treasures,” said NPCA President Tom Kiernan, “and we will build a national coalition of concerned Americans to restore and protect them.”

“Many foundations and organizations have worked on Great Lakes protection for years,” according to Andy Buchsbaum, director of NWF’s Great Lakes Natural Resource Center. “Now, we will be able to coordinate our efforts through the Great Lakes Coalition and create a national constituency for effective action by the federal government to restore the Great Lakes.”

“No single foundation, no single organization, no single person will restore the Great Lakes by working alone,” said Peter Wege. “It will take close partnerships among all who care for the Lakes, including government and elected officials.”

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The Healing Our Waters conference, sponsored by the Wege Foundation, convened nearly 100 scientists, environmentalists, conservationists and educators from across the country in Grand Rapids, Michigan in May 2004. These experts drafted the Healing Our Waters Agenda for Great Lakes Restoration. A full report containing the agenda was distributed to the administration, all Members of Congress and other federal level policy makers in September. The report is available at
www.healingourwaters.org.