Representatives and students of Lakehead University’s Geography and Environmental Science Dept., Minnesota Dept of Natural Resources Lake Superior Coastal Program, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Fisheries Management Council for Zone 9 met on April 19th at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Meeting participants discussed ways in which GIS mapping, or “Geomatics”, (the interface between GIS mapping and “big data”) can be harnessed to inform and advance the Lake Superior Action and Management Plan.
The central focus of the meeting was Lake Superior’s coldwater streams. Meeting participants noted the disparity in basic environmental stream data like temperature, flow and water quality between various jurisdictions, the need to consider coastal wetlands in addition to streams, the difficulty in classifying stream types and identifying degraded streams for rehabilitation work, absent baseline data. A satellite imagery presentation outlined how use of such imagery could be used to determine water levels, fundamental information for work on streams.
Participants decided to designate the Pigeon River, at the Canada – U.S. border, as the first “sentinel watershed” where Geomatics work could be carried out to illustrate current conditions, environmental degradation, potential for rehabilitation work and disparities in data between jurisdictions. Participants also discussed potential for additional sentinel watersheds in all jurisdictions surrounding Lake Superior including Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
The Infosuperior Research and Information Network has been working over the last several months to facilitate this Canada/U.S. geomatics group. Lakehead University’s Geospatial Centre is currently working to develop an online mapping tool for Canadian North Shore streams. Geomatics group participants will continue to meet. Their goal is to arrive at a “short list” of projects aimed at Lake Superior restoration and protection.