A Note From Center Director Christian Freitag

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We wanted to send a friendly note to our supporters to let you know about some of our recent work, and just to say thank you!  

Recently, I was talking casually to an older friend of mine about things Midwesterners discuss—the change of seasons, the humidity, mosquitoes and tomatoes—the normal stuff. One topic was the abnormally wet spring. We talked about flooding in the Midwest, and together we hoped we’d be spared a prolonged summer drought after such a rainy start to the year. Too much rain. Not enough rain. Public infrastructure not set up to manage water quantity or protect water quality. As we were parting, she left me with a comment that stuck: “Don’t take our clean water for granted.”  

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We at Conservation Law Center are not taking our clean water for granted. Water quality and quantity issues are two of our most active practice areas. We are taking the lead on addressing the water challenges we face now and those we are likely to face in the future.  

Indiana ranks among the very worst states in terms of water quality. Over 7,000 miles of Indiana streams and rivers are impaired by direct piping of raw sewage. More than 80% of Indiana stream miles are classified as impaired due to bacterial contamination, and 30-70% (depending on the county) of septic systems are in some state of failure. Moreover, approximately 80% of Indiana utilities report that water pollution sometimes affects their ability to deliver the quantity and quality of water they need. These issues are critically important and will only become more acute if left unaddressed. We don’t take our water for granted.

The Center continues the fight to protect the public’s right to use the Lake Michigan shore, and we recently beat an attempt by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to remove us from a case aimed at enforcing our victory in Gunderson v. State. The Center also worked this past legislative session to educate policymakers about public trust rights, which were the subject of two separate bills (both ultimately tabled). We are committed to fighting attempts to put our public lands in private hands.

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We’re not only about water. Over the last thirteen years, The Center has directly assisted in the protection of over 12,000 acres of important habitat. That’s over $60,000,000 worth of land! We didn’t buy it, but our work made sure it got protected. That land is habitat to some of our most sensitive species like bats and migratory songbirds, rare orchids, and freshwater mussels. We are strong advocates for species that need it the most.

The Center is also committed to training the next generation of environmental advocates. Some of us have been working on conservation issues for decades, but we won’t be around forever. The Center has provided hundreds of students clinical training as environmental attorneys—young professionals who will be the advocates we need in the coming decades. We are investing in the future.

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After six months with the Center, I am more impressed than ever with the organization and its ability to make positive change. The Center’s approach is both practical and creative, both strategic and responsive. We are experts on issues that require experts to address. We want to be the group you picture when you read the paper and say to yourself, “I wish someone would do something about that.” I hope you’re impressed with the Center’s work, too.

Everything the Center does is made possible by the support of our donors. We are only able to do this important work because of all of you. Thank you!

Lily