Born in 2009, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership (MGLP) joined the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) “family” ready to take on an enormous challenge. The partnership was founded to address a common need identified by lake managers, professionals, and stakeholders: the lack of resources for conducting fish habitat conservation on inland lakes. The partnership set out to improve science, management, and communications capacity, support new and effective approaches to fish habitat degradation through its grant, and bring partners together to share and learn from their experiences. Today our almost 700 partners have helped us to accomplish some of these goals together.
Looking back over the last ten years, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds. The MGLP’s Lake Conservation Grant has funded the protection of over 8,000 acres of lakes, restored fish passage to over 75,000 acres of lakes, developed outreach materials that have contacted over 70,000 stakeholders, and restored over 5,000 ft. of lake shoreline. For example, the grant provided funding for pilot coarse woody habitat projects by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that eventually developed into the extremely popular Fish Sticks program in the state today. More recently, the MGLP funded a project to investigate whether shoreline vegetation could partially mitigate septic effluent from the large number of leaking septic systems around lakes. The MGLP has provided over $1.1 M in NFHP funding from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to 36 projects that have brought over $4.1M in matching funds and in-kind support. In addition to funding provided through the partnership, we should also mention that we provide letters of support to help partners compete for other funding.
While our on-the-ground work has been important, our science and data products are one of our most commonly requested outputs. At its inception, MGLP partners recognized the need to assess the over 70,000 inland lakes in the MGLP using consistent criteria across political boundaries to determine which strategies are appropriate for each lake and to allow partners to prioritize their work. Earlier this year, the MGLP released its Conservation Planner, which provides users with data characterizing lakes’ shorelines, watersheds, and climate vulnerability. Our Science and Data Team hosted a symposium at the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in 2018 to address knowledge gaps identified by MGLP partners, which resulted in a glacial-lake-themed issue of the peer-reviewed Lake and Reservoir Management journal with articles on topics requested by MGLP partners such as climate change adaptation (1,2), coarse woody habitat, and aquatic vegetation management.
As the partnership has grown, we’ve identified the need to support partners’ education and outreach needs as well. The partnership’s Education and Outreach Team has received two USFWS Multistate Conservation Grants to develop marketing materials to shift social norms toward ecological stewardship of privately-owned lake shoreline properties. The team has also developed a newsletter to communicate partnership information, a webinar series to increase sharing of management and research advances, and a Twitter account.
As the MGLP approaches its second decade of existence, we are redoubling our efforts to work together to protect, rehabilitate, and enhance sustainable fish habitats in glacial lakes of the Midwest for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations. We encourage you to join the partnership, or reach out to coordinator Joe Nohner to see how you can become involved. Stay tuned in 2020 as we release our revised strategic plan, announce another round of grants for lake habitat conservation, outreach, and assessment, and share more cutting-edge science and management on glacial lakes.