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How Much Habitat is Enough?

November 14, 2014

The lower Nipigon River where it meets Nipigon Bay on Lake Superior. A provincially significant wetland complex in the lower Nipigon provides important fish and wildlife habitat.

Work to address impaired fish and wildlife habitat is central to Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans. A per-requisite in this work is knowing how much habitat is necessary to support a particular wildlife population.

To help answer this question Environment Canada produced the document “How Much Habitat is Enough? – (3rd edition, 2013)” (available here). The document describes the minimum amount of wetland, forest, riparian and grassland habitat needed to support populations of wildlife. The report also provides an extensive literature review and 21 habitat guidelines to assist land planners and other conservation practitioners to restore and protect wildlife habitat.

Guidelines include: 30% to 50% minimum forest cover, the greater of 10% wetland cover per watershed or 40% of historic wetland cover, 75% of the length of a stream naturally vegetated, less than 10% impervious cover in a watershed, and average grassland patch sizes of greater than or equal to 50 hectares. This publication has influenced land use planning, restoration projects and land purchase initiatives across multiple jurisdictions and has become a standard conservation biology and landscape ecology reference.

New Website Explores L. Superior’s Wisconsin Shipwrecks

November 21, 2014

A fascinating new website explores yet another dimension of Lake Superior.

What do the following names have in common – Fedora, Lucerne, Noquebay and Pretoria? They are all Lake Superior shipwrecks which have sunk in Wisconsin.

A fascinating new website with many excellent photos and videos is up and running are you are invited to “Dive In.” Check it out. The website is a fascinating way of exploring yet another dimension of Lake Superior.

Thunder Bay PAC Meeting – November 12

November 12, 2014

The Remedial Action Plan is working to improve environmental conditions in the Thunder Bay Harbour area. This aerial photo of the harbour taken in the thirties demonstrates historical conditions. More historical harbour photos. Photos courtesy Ontario Ministry of Environment & Climate Change.

The next meeting of the Public Advisory Committee (PAC) to the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan, or cleanup plan, will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 12 at the Balmoral Street Centre on the Lakehead University Campus (directions). The general public is welcome to attend and there is no charge.

Links to Important Documents:

Special Presentation on Chemicals of Emerging Concern in the Great Lakes

November 12, 2014

Presence of Chemicals of Emerging Concern in the Great Lakes & Impact of Advanced Technologies on their Removal.
Dr. Saad Jasim, Director of SJ Environmental Consultants (Windsor) Inc.

November 20, 2014 — 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.
ATAC building (Room 1003) at Lakehead University.

The Great Lakes and their connecting channels form the largest fresh surface water system on earth. Over the past 10 years, focus on environmental monitoring has shifted to an array of recently discovered compounds known as ‘chemicals of emerging concern’ (CEC). These chemicals are found in products used daily in households, businesses, agriculture and industry, such as flame-retardants, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and pesticides.

Wastewater treatment plants are among the important pathways by which CEC enter the Great Lakes, with concentrations highest in the vicinity of wastewater discharges. Treated sewage is often discharged into the nearshore waters, which also provide a source of drinking water to the public. They are released into aquatic environments mainly via sewage treatment plant effluents and agricultural runoff. Since conventional sewage treatment processes fail to eliminate them efficiently, they end up in natural waters.

Despite high transformation and removal rates, many EDCs and PPCPs are persistent in the environment due to their continuous release. Adverse impacts of this diverse group of chemicals have been documented for wildlife including increased feminization of fish, sexual disorders in snails and juvenile alligators, and kidney failure in vultures leading to death. Ozonation and advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) have been reported to be extremely effective in removing these compounds.


Edmund Fitzgerald Sank 39 Years Ago

November 11, 2014
The Edmund Fitzgerald

The Edmund Fitzgerald

On the afternoon of November 10th, 1975 heavy seas were breaking over the Thunder Bay Harbour breakwall. Some of the ships leaving Thunder Bay grain elevators decided to turn back, rather than continue to their destinations across Lake Superior and down the Great Lakes. The Edmund Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin a day earlier, making it to the eastern end of L. Superior on November 10th but sinking before it could reach the Sault locks. The entire crew of 29 persons went down with the ship. Read more in this excellent article and comments from Mlive.

Lake Superior Native Fish Species

November 4, 2014
Lake Superior Native Fish

Lake Superior has a diverse population of native fish species. How many do you recognize? Click below to view a chart of these fish.

According to Minnesota Sea Grant, Lake Superior supports fewer reproducing fish species (55) and produces fewer fish per surface area than the other Great Lakes, however L. Superior supports 34 species of native fish. Additionally, the L. Superior fishery has improved substantially over the last 40 years.

How many species of native L. Superior fish can you identify…..?

Click here for more info.

Click here for an overview of the L. Superior fishery.

“Making Waves” – A publication of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

November 4, 2014

Members of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, including mayors from around the Great Lakes,  held their annual meeting in Thunder Bay in June of this year. Their latest newsletter, “Making Waves” provides information about municipal climate adaptation, Asian Carp, improved rail safety and U.S. Environmental protection agency grants for sustainable communities. Read the entire newsletter by clicking here.

Two U.S. Great Lakes Hotspots “Delisted”

November 3, 2014

Two toxic hotspots on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes have been delisted, or removed from a long list of Great Lakes toxic sites, after completion of major projects to address contaminated sediment. The two “Areas of Concern” are Deer Lake, near Lake Superior and White Lake near Lake Michigan. The major contaminant in the case of Deer Lake on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was mercury from the mining industry. In the case of White Lake, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan in Muskegon County, Michigan, the tannery and chemical production industries left a legacy of contamination. Read more in the October 30th edition of Marine

Information about:

Deer Lake Area of Concern

White Lake Area of Concern

North Harbour Options Report Available

October 31, 2014

Approximately 300,000-350,000 cubic metres (a lot) of mercury contaminated, enriched organic sediment is presently sitting on the bottom of Lake Superior within the breakwall in the northernmost section of the Thunder Bay Harbour.

The Thunder Bay North Harbour Project Steering Committee is happy to announce that the Sediment Management Options Evaluation – FINAL REPORT is available for public distribution through the EcoSuperior website.

Please take the time to download and review the report if interested and submit any comments or questions to Jamie Saunders (807-624-2658 or For more information visit It is anticipated that a further round of public consultation meetings and open houses will take place in mid-late October. Stay tuned for more information.

Binational Great Lakes Climate Quarterly (June-Aug 2014) Now Available

October 15, 2014

It was a colder and wetter summer than usual for the Great Lakes region and Great Lakes water levels have been on the rise.  For a binational overview of the latest season’s weather and water level conditions, weather and water level-related impacts and an outlook for the upcoming quarter take a look at the “Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook: Great Lakes Region”.  This Canada-US climate quarterly newsletter is produced jointly by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Environment Canada, working in collaboration with other U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes partners.  Its geographical scope spans the Great Lakes basin, including the international portion of the St. Lawrence River.  Issues are published in March, June, September and December covering Winter (Dec-Feb); Spring (Mar-May); Summer (Jun-Aug) and Fall (Sep-Nov).

The Great Lakes Climate Quarterly is available from Environment Canada (here). Historic reports and those covering a broader range of regions across the United States avaiable from NOAA (here).