In 1998, The Dow Chemical Company approached The Conservation Fund to develop a new program that could support the watershed and the communities where its employees live, work and play. At that time we were the only organization working at the intersection of economic development and environmental conservation, making us ideally suited to forge the local and regional partnerships necessary to realize Dow’s bold vision for a sustainable Saginaw Bay.


With support from Dow and 12 foundation and corporate partners, we helped create—and now administer—the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network (WIN), which has become a catalyst for hundreds of initiatives to improve the watershed and its communities. Since 1998, WIN has invested more than $5 million in approximately 300 projects, leveraging an additional $12 million in support for these community efforts.

WIN grants have supported a wide range of locally driven projects. We’ve helped our partners improve the energy efficiency of a minor league baseball team’s stadium, plant community gardens, build trail systems, provide canoe and kayak launch facilities along the watershed’s major rivers, control erosion along tributary rivers to prevent pollution, and even remove dams to improve passage for spawning fish. One of WIN’s biggest ongoing projects involves removing a deteriorating dam along the Cass River in the city of Frankenmuth, Michigan’s top tourist destination.

“We’ve been able to work with the community and the Army Corps of Engineers to remove the dam and connect about 80 miles of river. It’s been 160 years since walleye have been able to get past the dam in Frankenmuth to their historic spawning areas. Once you have a run of walleye up this river, you’ll once again have an opportunity for recreational fishing to bring even more tourists in,” says WIN administrator Mike Kelly of the Fund.


As the leading organization in the area supporting sustainability, Saginaw Bay WIN creates opportunities to invest in and broaden the dialogue among local organizations and communities to protect the environment, restore places that have been harmed and develop new ideas that can address some of Saginaw Bay’s most pressing watershed challenges. This 15-minute film, Coreyon, showcases our efforts to restore native fish populations to their former glory and ensure a sustainable environment and economy for everyone throughout the Great Lakes:


These foundations and corporations contribute $300,000 per year to support WIN investments: