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Building a Future for the Lakes


The 20th century was hard on the Great Lakes. Economic prosperity came at the expense of the ecological health of the region’s valuable water resources. This trend changed in the 1980s, when bipartisan leadership from states surrounding the Great Lakes took action to ensure the future health of our shared ecosystem. The governors created the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the world’s first ecosystem endowment.

The Fund’s mission is to identify, demonstrate, and promote regional action to enhance the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Originally endowed with $81 million in 1989, in the past 30 years the Fund has invested over $87 million in an innovation portfolio designed to confront new challenges and anticipate emerging issues facing the Great Lakes.

Find out more about our history at our 30th Anniversary site.