About the Lake Michigan Shorelands Alliance
The Lake Michigan Shorelands Alliance, or LMSA, is a collaboration of land trusts focused on accelerating the protection of significant land and water resources in the Lake Michigan basin with Gathering Waters acting as a convener. LMSA members are identifying, protecting, restoring, and managing lands that protect the water quality, wildlife habitats, and the scenic integrity of Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Basin.
The watershed of Lake Michigan extends through more than thirty counties in Wisconsin, representing some of the most scenic and ecologically valuable lands in the state.
People in the region depend on thriving recreational, agricultural, and industrial economies, which in turn, depend on the vitality of Lake Michigan and the lands it drains. A huge number of other species share these lands and water resources, as well.
Rapid development, recreational pressure, and invasive species threaten the health of the watershed. Ensuring quality of life for current and future generations requires that we protect the region's important environmental corridors--wetlands, woodlands, waterways and open lands.
The special places we protect – or lose – will determine the character of our landscape and the lives that depend on it forever.
Why Land Trusts?
Land trust fill a unique and essential niche in the great matrix of Great Lakes protection efforts.
Recent attention focused on the Great Lakes watershed has delivered significant state and federal funds to natural resource protection in the basin. Those national dollars and state projects are critical to the region’s future.
But a vast ecosystem needs a network of conservation champions at all levels.
Land trusts help private landowners permanently protect special places. Run by local staffs and volunteer boards – including business leaders, teachers, elected officials, farmers and others-- land trusts help families, neighborhoods and communities achieve lasting conservation.
Land Trusts protect special places that don’t make the radar of federal and state agencies. Working with families and municipalities, the 10 land trusts in Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Basin have already protected thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, working farms and recreational lands.
The Lake Michigan Shorelands Alliance is a collaboration of ten land trusts focused on accelerating the protection of significant land and water resources in the Lake Michigan basin through private land conservation. LMSA members are identifying, protecting, restoring, and managing lands that protect the water quality, wildlife habitats, and the scenic integrity of Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Basin.
Founded in 2003, LMSA’s land trusts realized that independent, small non profits might never gain recognition as influencial players in the vast Great Lakes Basin. Together, however, ten organizations, collectively protecting thousands of acres, would put land trusts, the critical link to local, private land conservation, on the map of Great Lakes protection.
Coordinated – LMSA gives one respected voice the land trust community in the basin.
Strategic – LMSA pooled resources to create a comprehensive set of GIS maps identifying places where land conservation will have the greatest public benefit. LMSA members have crafted a strategic plan guiding the work of the alliance to increase the capacity of each member and advocate for public policies that support for the health and vitality of the Lake Michigan Basin's land and water resources, and--ultimately--its people.
Collaborative-- LMSA members strengthen each other by sharing knowledge and experience & meet quarterly to keep their collaboration active.
- In 2010, LMSA unveiled its Critical Resource Evaluation (or ACRE) models with maps produced to demonstrate goals for protecting habitat, farmlands, surface water quality, and public access recreation.
- In 2008, we hosted the Great Lake Gatherings--four community forums that brought together more than 450 local business owners, government officials, community leaders, landowners, and other citizens to tackle the complex challenges facing the watershed. The culminating accomplishment of these gatherings was the development of our three-year strategic plan.
- In 2003, we identified 18 Priority Conservation Sites, creating Landscapes of Opportunity: a regional conservation plan for Wisconsin's Lake Michigan Basin, which has served as a focus of our subsequent conservation work.
Our Member Land Trusts
LMSA's work is made possible by generous financial and in-kind contributions from each land trust member, Gathering Waters and private contributions. LMSA is among the many groups generously supported by the Joyce Foundation, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
photos courtesy of Rob Nuermburg, Michael Knapstein, & Bill Berry