Southeastern Lake Michigan Wetland Protection/Restoration Partnership Project (SLMWP)
The LLWFA tool was but just one outcome of the larger project encompassing the entire Southeastern Lake Michigan Watershed area. The greater project activities included developing and coordinating bi-state wetland partnership to direct the protection and restoration of wetlands in the St. Joseph River Watershed (SJRW), the LLWFA, updating the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) maps for the four remaining counties in the SJRW, developing a more intensive educational strategy for ultimately increasing wetland protection and restoration, prioritizing areas to focus voluntary efforts while simultaneously increasing outreach efforts to landowners, and prioritizing townships or counties to focus regulatory protection efforts towards municipal officials.
The aforementioned facets of the Southeastern Lake Michigan Wetland Protection and Restoration Partnership Project led to federal, state, and local government relations, public involvement and program integration. Some example outputs were a website, which included information about the project, its partnerships, and successes, presentations to an array of community organizations, municipal leaders, state wetland managers, etc., and events newsletters.
The grantee brought wetland issues into the public sphere and made wetland restoration a priority for governing officials, garnering support from all across the watershed. As the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy put it, “regional conservation organizations are joining efforts to inform area landowners of available tools, programs, and financial incentives to protect River Country’s remaining wetlands and restore some of those that have been lost lost due to draining or filling.” The forum, in collaboration with many of the Lake Michigan regional organizations including the Friends of St. Joe River Association, Michigan Planning Commission, several different County Conservation Districts, and even Ducks Unlimited, catalyzed cooperation among state officials and local groups who shared common goals.