Foundation grantmaking focuses on four major program areas.
These programs touch upon a number of major issues.
Each grantmaking program also works within clearly stated geographic parameters or regions.
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We believe the need for clean, plentiful freshwater is one of this century’s greatest challenges. Securing sustainable levels of this precious resource to meet the needs of both people and nature — what we call the freshwater challenge — is a key focus of much of the Mott Foundation’s environmental grantmaking in the United States.
We place special emphasis on the Great Lakes region — not only because the shores of our home state of Michigan touch four of the five Great Lakes, but also because the Great Lakes are the single largest system of surface freshwater on Earth. As such, they affect the physical, social and economic well-being of tens of millions of people in and beyond the region.
On a more limited basis, we also support work in the southeastern United States specifically aimed at securing healthy river flows. When it comes to rivers and streams, the Southeast is one of the most important places on the planet and, next to the Amazon, is home to the most biologically diverse freshwater ecosystems in the world. Increasingly, however, the rivers of the Southeast region face high risk of rising pollution levels and habitat degradation. We concentrate our grantmaking in three ecoregions: Tennessee-Cumberland, Mobile Bay and South Atlantic. This translates roughly into a focus on the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.
In both of these globally significant regions we’re working to help strengthen the community of nongovernmental organizations dedicated to the long-term conservation of freshwater ecosystems. We also seek to inform and advance well-designed and effectively implemented water-quality and water-quantity policies that conserve freshwater resources.
The majority of our freshwater grantmaking focuses on the Great Lakes — the single largest system of surface freshwater on Earth.
In the southeast, we concentrate our grantmaking in the three ecoregions pictured.
Representing the interests of 11 Ojibwe tribes, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission is a nonprofit organization that helps its members manage natural resources on their land across the Great Lakes. The commission also assists members in protecting and enhancing their treaty-guaranteed rights to hunt, fish, and gather on tribal land transferred to U.S. federal control. Interest in the mining of sulfide-based ores has increased in the last few years, raising concerns about possible water quality impacts on the associated ecosystems and natural resources. With Mott support, the commission will prepare a report examining how tribes can fully participate in the processes for permitting and monitoring sulfide mining operations on land where tribes have hunting and fishing rights.
The Great Lakes Washington Program of the Northeast-Midwest Institute has long been a critical voice for the Great Lakes region in Washington, D.C. The institute provides staff to the bipartisan House and Senate Great Lakes Task Forces, promotes coalitions to sustain bipartisan efforts to protect and enhance the Great Lakes region, identifies federal policy options that can enhance ecosystem initiatives in the Great Lakes basin, and conducts briefings and issue analyses that link in-region advocates with the Washington-based policy communities. This grant will support work on policy issues including key appropriations to benefit the Great Lakes, water export and diversion, ecosystem restoration, Farm Bill re-authorization, and other key policy issues as they become apparent.
American Rivers, a national organization dedicated to protecting and restoring river ecosystems, has an active program in the southeastern U.S. With these additional funds, American Rivers will provide support to partner organizations that are working to promote healthy river flows and integrated water management practices.
Every autumn, when cold air settles over the Great Lakes region, anglers from as far away as Europe and Asia make their way to a river in west Michigan to test their skill against powerful fish known affectionately as “silver bullets.”
The prized catch is steelhead and the Muskegon River is one of the best places in America to find them, according to biologists and experienced anglers. It’s a remarkable designation for a river that carried millions of logs to sawmills in the 19th century, only to become strangled by hydroelectric dams in the first decade of the 20th century.
Dams changed the Muskegon’s natural blueprint by creating new flow patterns, altering the movement of sediment and nutrients, raising the temperature of its water, reducing the amount of oxygen available to fish, creating artificial divisions in wildlife habitat and preventing fish in Lake Michigan from reaching 79 percent of the river that is upstream of the towering structures. The result: a vital ecosystem that was profoundly changed and put at risk of significant damage.
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