Month: June 2016

Wisconsin DNR considers cisco management plan

For the first time, the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources is considering a management plan for cisco in Lake Superior. Also known as lake herring, cisco are a primary prey species for whitefish and lake trout, and are a prized catch by foodies: it’s eaten fresh or smoked, and its roe are a delicacy referred to by some as “bluefin caviar.” Cisco populations are under strain due to increased commercial fishery demand, and the DNR is doing research with the consultation of commercial fishermen to establish a quota for catchable population per year.

The Ashland Daily Press spoke with Terry Margenau, DNR Lake Superior fisheries supervisor, who reports that commercial harvest of cisco in Lake Superior spiked after 2008, when commercial processors began to accept whole fish.

“The annual harvest from 2008 to 2014 averaged nearly 1.4 million pounds, a level more than three times the average annual harvest from 2000 to 2007,” Margenau to the Daily Press. “The cisco harvest from Wisconsin waters now accounts for two-thirds of the total Lake Superior harvest and there is concern among Wisconsin fisheries managers as well as those from neighboring states and Canada about survey data that shows declining abundance of the fish.”

If cisco populations are under strain, so too are the lake trout and whitefish which feed on them. These considerations all propelled the DNR’s decision to establish a management plan. DNR officials have held stakeholder meetings in Bayfield and at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center this week, seeking comments on their management proposals. They are proposing a quota of 15 percent of the catchable population per year.

Margenau told the Daily Press that the management plan has two main goals: to create a sustainable fishery, and keep commercial fishermen in business. The DNR are consulting with the commercial fishermen in good faith as they do research to base the management plan on, and Margenau commented that the fishermen have been very helpful in the process because they care about the fishery, and diminishing numbers of cisco can threaten their livelihood.

“They are pointing out some things that we haven’t seen because they are out there a lot and they have made some good points and we have modified the management plan as we have gone along over the past several months,” he said.

Commercial fishermen have even offered to assist with the DNR’s continued research efforts, as the department finds itself short on staffing and budgets.

The Daily Press spoke with fisherman Craig Hoopman of Bayfield, WI, to get his perspective on the management plan research efforts. “It’s actually very simple — at the end of the day, any time you talk about a total allowable catch, or harvest, and they are going to base it on a three-year basis,” he said. “If you don’t spend the next three years collecting all the data for all of the Lake Superior waters in Wisconsin, you won’t get a figure on the actual size of the biomass that is out there.”

Currently, the DNR is studying areas of Lake Superior that are fished heavily by the state’s commercial industry. Last fall, Hoopman observed that the areas studied by the DNR were 10 percent of the waters being fished. Because cisco are a pelagic species, their movement is spread out over the lake and both the DNR and the fishermen are curious to get the bigger picture.

“They could be on the south shore today, they could be headed towards the north shore tomorrow,” he said. “We want to know what the total number is. Right now they are seeing between 14 and 19 million pounds, that is what their acoustic soundings say. We are interested in getting the whole picture of what is out there, so we know we are not over harvesting. Are we under harvesting? What is the true picture?”

Hoopman and other commercial fishermen are lending their aid to the research because the DNR lacks the funding to pursue the research fully. While the DNR has invested to retrofit its boat with equipment to conduct the research, its time on the lake for actual field work has been limited. “It’s a state of the art boat and it should be out there doing it’s job,” Hoopman said. “Let’s get it out there for more than six days for this project. If we have to go to Madison to stress the need to use this boat, we are all on board to do it.”

To see the full article from the Ashland Daily Press, click here.

 

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Tourism explodes in Superior coastal communities

The overwhelming popularity of Lake Superior’s attractions are reportedly providing a challenge for small lakeshore communities in Michigan and Minnesota.

Increasing numbers of tourists are flocking particularly to Munising, Michigan, to see the Pictured Rocks, a sandstone rockface towering above turquoise waters. Roughly 723 000 people visited Munising’s Alger County in 2015 on their way to see the rocks, sinking $30.6 million into the economies of surrounding cities and towns. This figure is a staggering increase from 561,100 visitors in region in 2011.

However, the Associated Press (Marquette, MI) reported that tourist influx in small coastal communities such as Grand Marais, MN and Munising on their way to the lakeshore has created shortage in hotel rooms, camping sites, and local restaurants. In addition, local officials noted traffic, transportation, and parking concerns.

While tourism economy is welcomed along Lake Superior’s shore, communities are struggling to keep up with ever-increasing demand. Munising officials, members of the National Park Service, and other organizations in Alger County created five groups to address tourism issues. The five groups cover seasonal employment and business opportunities, seasonal housing, public infrastructure, quality of life, and park congestion.

One of the biggest challenges is where to house tourists during peak seasons. Munising mayor Rod DesJardins told AP that “we still have a significant shortage in rental properties for all income ranges as well as a critical shortage in seasonal rentals and vacation rentals,” DesJardins said. Kathy Reynolds, executive director of the Alger County Chamber of Commerce confirmed that rental and hotel occupancy often sees 100 percent occupancy.

Increased visitation to Pictured Rocks also invites increased safety concern as tourists kayak, hike, and bike to see the destination. AP reported that Laura Rotegard, the superintendent of Pictured Rocks, oversees a committee working on a video and handout to increase awareness around safety for boating and kayaking in Lake Superior.

To see the full AP article via the Huron Daily Tribune, click here.

Photo credit: By Trizicus – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12073661

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Lake Invaders: former reporter publishes new invasive species book

Author William Rapai, a former newspaper reporter and amateur naturalist, recently published his second book Lake Invaders: Invasive Species and the Battle for the Future of the Great Lakes. MetroMode’s (of Metro Detroit) Kirk Haverkamp interviewed him for a preview of his perspective on the environmental, economic, and political aspects of fighting back against non-native species in the Great Lakes Basin.

Haverkamp and Rapai discuss how ‘invasive species’ was not coined as a term until the 1990s; other examples of invasive species effects from Hawaii, New Zealand, and North America (did you know the dandelion was brought over from Europe as a food source?); how non-native species invaded the Great Lakes via the Welland Canal and ballast water from ocean liners; potential beneficial effects of invasive species, and more.

Below is an excerpt from the interview which covers the domino effect invasives can have on ecosystems and tourist industry, and the legal loopholes which prevent effective enforcement to deal with the issues.

For the full interview, click here to visit MetroMode.

MM: Alewives, which used to be a huge problem, are mostly gone?

WR: Yes. One of the things I’m fond of talking about is the cascading effects these invasive species have had over the years. When the alewives first came in, their population in Lake Michigan alone was somewhere around a trillion fish at one time. That’s a lot of fish.

So when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources decided to stock Lake Michigan with salmon, the salmon had a ready-made food source.

But now, because of the quagga and zebra mussels, the amount of plankton in the lakes has been significantly cut, so the alewife population (which feeds on plankton) is pretty much gone in Lake Huron, and it is falling very rapidly in Lake Michigan.

And because the alewife is gone is Lake Huron, the salmon population there has followed that decline. There’s practically no salmon left in Lake Huron, and as the alewife population continues to decline in Lake Michigan, the salmon population is also going to continue to decline there as well.

MM: And that’s a big impact for the sport fishery?

WR: Towns like Frankfurt and Muskegon and Ludington, where a lot of charter fishing is based, are really beginning to hurt a little bit because of the lack of people coming back from previous years. People are realizing that those fish that they used to catch, which were once so plentiful, are no longer there.

It seems that one of the big challenges is coordinating policy.  I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that states have primary authority on invasive species management, rather than the federal government.

Because there’s nothing in the Constitution that says the federal government shall have control over the Great Lakes, it becomes a matter of state control. Now, what happens when all the states surrounding the Great Lakes and the provinces of Canada have conflicting interests?

That’s what we are seeing with Asian Carp in Chicago-area waterways. You’ve got Michigan saying “No, we don’t want those carp here in our Great Lakes” and Illinois and Indiana saying “Yes, we don’t want the carp here either, but we also want to keep this canal open, because it’s a direct waterway to the Great Lakes.”

MM: That also relates to the problem of enforcement. You talk in your book about a ship emptying ballast water that may have organisms in it, but the state of Michigan can’t hold the ship for testing.

WR: Right. The State of Michigan has absolutely no authority to stop a ship because the federal government has authority in this matter, due to the interstate commerce clause in the Constitution.

And that means the State of Michigan and the State of Wisconsin cannot go on board a ship and seize it or stop it or tell it to stop dumping ballast water. And that limits what a state can do to protect its own water and its environment.

MM: It often seems like there’s an awful lot of hoops to go through before you can take action. For example, you have to be able to prove a species is a threat before you can ban it.  

WR: You’re right. And because of the federal government’s policy, the Lacey Act of 1900, we have largely been playing from behind. The Lacey Act says that harmful organisms can’t be imported into the United States. But you can only know that it is harmful after it has been here and has become established, and you can show that it is injurious to plants or wildlife in the United States. In that way, it is innocent until proven guilty.

Well, we need to flip that on its head and say it’s guilty until proven innocent.

To purchase a copy of Rapai’s book, click here. 

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Waukesha diversion proposal approved

Environmental groups, municipal leaders, and the public are reacting strongly after eight Great Lakes governors voted unanimously on June 21 to approve Waukesha, WI’s proposal to divert millions of litres per day from Lake Michigan. Though Waukesha isn’t so far from Lake Michigan – at 27 kilometres away, it straddles the Great Lakes Basin – critics fear that the unprecedented decision may open up the Great Lakes to similar requests from other thirsty regions with dire drought or pollution problems.

Among the dissent was the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, an organization of 123 mayors who issued a press release opposing the diversion prior to the vote, and issued another release just after the vote expressing their disappointment with the result. Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee echoed the sentiment in a SaultOnline article.

Keith Brooks, campaign director for Environmental Defense Canada, told CBC that he doesn’t believe Waukesha’s application demonstrated sufficient need for the resource, because it hadn’t exhausted every other option available before requesting the diversion.”Everybody would probably love to take that water, because water is probably in short supply in lots of places,” Brooks said. “The body was created to manage the resource, to protect and conserve it.”

The body he’s referring to is the Great Lakes Compact. It started with the Great Lakes & St Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement, a good-faith agreement signed by eight Great Lakes state governors and Ontario and Quebec provincial premiers in 2005. The agreement provided a framework for the states and provinces to implement programs and laws to protect the Great Lakes.

At the same time, the governors endorsed the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Compact is a legally binding agreement between the Great Lakes states – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – which details how they manage the use of the Great Lakes’ water supply. It became state and federal law in 2008, and it was this body which Waukesha had to apply to for its Lake Michigan request.

CBC’s article reports that despite the size of the request, Waukesha’s 31 million litres is a drop in the bucket compared to the 40 billion litres per day currently being withdrawn from the lake. Waukesha’s take is 0.07% of that total. Roughly 160 billion litres water withdrawn daily from the whole Great Lakes Basin – of which Ontario consumes the very largest amount at a whopping 41% of the total, followed by Michigan at 23%. Most of the withdrawn water is for thermoelectric power production – 70%, as opposed to 13% being used for public water supplies.

Most of the 160 billion withdrawn litres find their way back to the basin. In 2014, only 1.4 billion litres of that total was lost; this amount was down from 3.2 billion litres lost in 2013.

CBC spoke with Theresa McClenaghan, executive director and counsel for the Canadian Environmental Law Association, to get some perspective on the legal precedent set by the Compact’s vote. They report that while McClenaghan and the Association were disappointed to hear that the vote went Waukesha’s way, she’s skeptical that a similar request from municipalities farther away would be treated as favourably. She told CBC that it would be more economic unrealistic to transport water great distances because of the energy costs involved.

“We certainly hope it will prove the true exception to the rule, not turn out to be a pattern in the future,” she said.

To see the full CBC article, click here.

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TO Art Project a “Love Letter to the Great Lakes”

An ambitious, large-scale art installation taking place this week in Toronto, ON, is aiming to beautify urban spaces while drawing attention to the challenges faced by the Great Lakes. Part of a larger series of programs called Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans, the Toronto installation will constitute the first freshwater edition of the project.

Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans is sponsored by the PangeaSeed Foundation, and is beginning to collect teams of international artists to complete the mural projects in various locations around the world. The inaugural installation was completed in Napier, New Zealand. The project team had the opportunity to visit local marine ecosystems, learn about the environmental challenges they face from experts, and in turn facilitate educational workshops to teach youth about these issues.

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The artists spent time in Napier from March 10-21, and “within the span of 5 days, 35 large-scale public murals were realized throughout Cozumel’s town center, addressing pressing marine environmental issues such as shark finning, overfishing, coastal development, climate change, and coral reef conservation.” The idea behind the murals was to raise awareness among locals and tourists alike about the effects these issues are having on native marine species and ecosystems.

The PangeaSeed Sea Wall project dubs itself ‘artivism’ (and its team members ‘artivists’), believing the project to be as much an educational process as it is an aesthetic one. “We believe that art, design and new media can transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries inspiring positive global change. PangeaSeed collaborates with today’s most influential creative minds to help give the oceans the voice they so desperately need.” To date, the Sea Wall project boasts a team of 300 artivists from 30 countries.

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Currently, the artivists have convened in Toronto to complete the second Sea Wall project from June 20-25. They’re hoping their installations “[celebrate] the majesty of the Great Lakes” while “[stimulating] a broader public awareness of the critical issues facing this breath-taking and unique natural resource, containing a staggering 95% of North America’s surface freshwater.”

Seventeen murals are being done by 20 artivists at Queen/Ossington, Queen/Spadina, and the mouth of the Don River. The project team is hoping to draw attention to six major Great Lakes issues (a fitting choice, for a city which now dubs itself ‘The Six’!). They’re listed as disappearing native species; non-point source pollution (i.e. fertilizers, pesticides, oil, grease, salt, sediment); invasive species; atmospheric pollution; polluted beaches; and point-source pollution (effluent from industrial operations).

The murals are due to be completed by tomorrow, June 25. If you’re around in Toronto today, a bike ride will take place from 3 pm to 5pm to tour the murals as they near completion, ending up at the Amsterdam Brew House. If you miss the bike ride, a party will be held at the Amsterdam Brew House to wind up the week and celebrate with the team members. For details, click here.

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If you’re not in Toronto this weekend, be sure to visit the murals when you’re in the city. Until the final murals are revealed, sneak peeks of the artistic process can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Click here to visit the website for Sea Wall: a Love Letter to the Great Lakes. 

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Superior Streams Update: Practicing for the Field

Every Thursday this summer, InfoSuperior will be bringing you updates from the field as student researchers Brent and Sara plan, develop, and implement stream rehab initiatives in the region under the Superior Streams project. Check out Brent’s latest update below! 

Since my last update I have continued in the office preparing for the field. I am currently working on invasive species lists and at risk species lists for the Lake Superior watershed. These lists will be used in the field to assist in the identifying and reporting of invasive and at risk species.

I have the opportunity to go outside and walk around the McIntyre/Neebing River on Lakehead University campus, to refine my fish knowledge and experience. I look for where small fish like to hide along a river system in different weather and water level conditions, and I also get great fish identification practice while I’m out. Some species that I have found in the river and been learning to identify include mud minnows, sculpin, white suckers, longnose suckers, blacknose dace, longnose dace, brook trout fry, rainbow trout fry, and I am slowly learning how to differentiate the many similarly looking minnow species. I also sometimes find other cool things, like a turtle that likes to swim around one section of the river. Some random fun things happen in the office as well: just the other day I had the opportunity to check out a new drone and got a chance to fly it in a flight simulation program.

These trips to the river are not only very fun, but give me practical knowledge that I can use when it comes time to do the field research.

Working with Superior Streams I continue to learn more about the professional world and gain valuable experience. I’m grateful to be in a position where work doesn’t feel like work.

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Great Lakes leaders reveal $4 billion plan to boost maritime investment

On June 15, leaders from Canadian provinces (Ontario, Quebec) and U.S. states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) in the Great Lakes Basin revealed a $3.8 billion dollar plan intended to improve regional maritime infrastructure and boost trade.

Recently, the leaders of these provinces and states formed the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers. They conceived the plan to leverage maritime transport as an economic engine driving job creation. The Great Lakes economy is one of the largest economic forces in North America, totalling $5.8 billion in revenue in 2015. BMO economists stated in April that if it were its own country, the Great Lakes basin would have the third largest economy in the world.

The ten-year maritime strategy was created to improve aging infrastructure in waterways, increase dredging and ice-breaking operations, and reduce other barriers hindering the growth of Great Lakes shipping industry. According to a press release by the Ontario government, “the strategy’s objectives are to double maritime trade, shrink the environmental footprint of the region’s transportation network, and support the region’s industrial core.”

To view the Strategy for the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence Maritime Transportation System document in full, click here.

Its major recommendations include:

  • Constructing a second “Poe Class” Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
  • Fully funding the asset renewal program of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation
  • Clearing the $200 million federal harbor dredging backlog at U.S. Great Lakes ports
  • Dredging the St. Marys River – a critical choke point – to its authorized depth of 27 feet
  • Appropriating $250 million in federal funds to repair breakwalls and other critical nearshore infrastructure
  • Adding more Great Lakes icebreakers to the U.S. and Canadian fleets
  • Developing recommendations for an agreement between the U.S. and Canada to cooperatively manage the regional maritime system
  • Streamlining the U.S.-Canada customs clearance process for cruise passengers and maritime cargo.
  • Tapping veterans to boost the region’s maritime workforce by removing barriers to entry for ex-servicemembers under “Military to Maritime” programs.

“Improving maritime transportation is critical to our economies — in order to remain competitive in today’s global markets, we need to improve and expand the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence maritime transportation system,” said Ontario Premier and Co-Chair of the Regional Maritime Entity Kathleen Wynne. “Our new strategy will help guide the sustainable development of maritime trade to ensure that future generations can enjoy the economic and environmental benefits of the region.”

To see the full article from Martime Executive, click here.

To see the official Ontario press release, click here.

 

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New research finds effects of microplastics on fish

While there’s no doubting that microplastics pose an oversize problem for keeping the environment clean, their effects on wildlife have been contested and debated for years. A recent study from Uppsala University endeavored to find out what measurable effects microplastics were having on fish populations, and came up with some unfortunate results. The article below is credited to Science Daily, reporting on the research article originally published in Science.

“In a new study, published in Science, researchers from Uppsala University found that larval fish exposed to microplastic particles during development displayed changed behaviors and stunted growth which lead to greatly increased mortality rates. The researchers discovered that larval perch that had access to microplastic particles only ate plastic and ignored their natural food source of free-swimming zooplankton.

Microplastic particles (defined as plastic particles <5mm in size) originate from large plastic waste products that fragment into smaller pieces, or from manufactured plastics of microscopic size (e.g., microbeads in personal care products). These microscopic waste particles reach oceans via waterways and lakes and accumulate in high concentrations in shallow coastal areas.

Today there is increasing concern that the accumulation of microplastic waste particles could affect the functioning of marine ecosystems, but our knowledge of the impacts of microplastic fragments on marine animals is limited. For the first time, scientists have now been able to show that development of fish is threatened by microplastic pollution.

‘Fish reared in different concentrations of microplastic particles have reduced hatching rates and display abnormal behaviors. The microplastic particle levels tested in the current study are similar to what is found in many coastal habitats in Sweden and elsewhere in the world today’ says marine biologist, Oona Lönnstedt, lead author of the article.

Larval perch exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic polystyrene particles displayed stunted growth rates. The authors found that this was related to larval feeding preferences as perch that had access to microplastic particles only ate plastic and ignored their natural food source of free-swimming zooplankton.

‘This is the first time an animal has been found to preferentially feed on plastic particles and is cause for concern’, says Professor Peter Eklöv, co-author of the study.

In a new study, published in Science, researchers from Uppsala University found that larval fish exposed to microplastic particles during development displayed changed behaviors and stunted growth which lead to greatly increased mortality rates. The researchers discovered that larval perch that had access to microplastic particles only ate plastic and ignored their natural food source of free-swimming zooplankton.

‘Larvae exposed to microplastic particles during development also displayed changed behaviors and were much less active than fish that had been reared in water that contained no microplastic particles. Furthermore, fish exposed to microplastic particles ignored the smell of predators which usually evoke innate antipredator behaviors in naïve fish’, says Oona Lönnstedt.

The lack of an antipredator response made larvae more vulnerable to predators. Indeed, when perch were placed together with a natural predator (pike), fish that had been exposed to microplastic particles were caught and eaten more than four times quicker than control fish, with all fish exposed to microplastic particles dead within 48 hours.

If this response in fish larvae translates to higher mortality rates as a result of increased predation risk in nature, there could be direct consequences for the replenishment and the sustainability of fish populations.

‘Increases in microplastic pollution in the Baltic Sea and marked recruitment declines of the coastal keystone species, like perch and pike, have recently been observed. Our study suggests a potential driver for the observed decreased recruitment rate and increased mortality’, says Peter Eklöv.

‘If early life-history stages of other species are similarly affected by microplastics, and this translates to increased mortality rates, the effects on aquatic ecosystems could be profound’, says Oona Lönnstedt.

The findings highlight ecologically important and previously underappreciated effects of microplastic particles that enter marine ecosystems, and emphasizes the need for new management strategies or alternative biodegradable products that lowers the release of microplastic waste products.

The study, published in Friday’s edition of the scientific journal Science, should be seen as a pointer about what may be underway in many oceans around the world. However, more comprehensive studies are required before any far-reaching conclusions can be drawn.”

 

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Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative convenes in Niagara

Over June 15-17, 123 mayors came together for an annual meeting of the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative in Niagara, NY to discuss environmental, social and economic issues facing the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. Representatives from local Lake Superior communities were in attendance from both Canada and the United States.

On the docket for the Cities Initiative were presentations and resolutions adopted on issues such as invasive species (particularly Asian carp and phragmites), microbeads, radioactive waste, drinking water safety, pipeline safety, integrated water management, confined animal-feeding operations, and sewer overflows. The mayors also took great time to review climate change strategies and commitments, as well as poll for responses on the proposed Waukesha diversion.

A press release by the Cities Initiative was released to local news sources voicing the mayors’ collective opposition to the Waukesha diversion, which will be decided in a final vote by Great Lakes state governors on June 21, 2016. The Net Newsledger quoted Nipigon, ON mayor Richard Harvey and EarthCare representative Brad Doff from Thunder Bay, ON, , both of whom added their voices to the previously published release.

“This is an important decision because it sets a precedent for the future,” said Brad Doff, EarthCare Thunder Bay attending on behalf of the City of Thunder Bay. “If we open this door, it may open the door wide for many other municipalities requesting to draw water outside of the great lakes basin.”

“This may be one of the most significant threats to the great lakes today” commented Mayor Harvey. “Any move to allow diversions of Great Lakes water out of the basin opens the door to future diversions and withdrawals’ of our waters. Being at the head waters of the Great lakes we recognize water as one of our greatest assets and must do everything to protect this great gift we have.”

In covering the event, the London Free Press reported an impassioned call by Cities Initiative for more resolute action to counteract climate change. The mayors are hoping to see more help from federal, provincial, and state levels to help with local climate change initiatives and programming expansion.

The Free Press spoke with mayor John Dickert of Racine, WI, who stated that too many legislators are “sitting on the sidelines” when they should be working more closely with municipalities to rethink transportation systems, build efficient buildings, and convert to renewable energy sources.

“We’re going to do it with your help, but if you folks aren’t going to do this at a federal level or a state level, then it’s time to move on . . . We need the funding, just as a reminder, but we will do it,” Dickert told the Free Press.

Though several communities in the Cities Initiative are promising to track and document their efforts to reduce carbon output, some smaller municipalities feel that larger cities need to step up their effort to account for their larger carbon footprint. Accordingly, a presenting engineer from Toronto suggests rather than focusing on new carbon emissions strategies, successful existing ones should be scaled-up. Fernando Carou, an engineer with the Toronto environment and energy division stated: “It’s not only about initiatives. It’s about getting the magnitude right.”

To see the Net Newsledger article (originally sourced from a Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative press release, click here.

To see the London Free Press full reporting on the Cities Initiative conference, click here.

To see a the full document of 2016 resolutions passed by the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, click here.

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InfoSuperior Catches up with Our Shores Run

On June 9th, Samuel Pegg of the InfoSuperior Team got a chance to catch up with the members of the Our Shores Run, who were passing through Thunder Bay and had scheduled a day of rest in town. Evan, Allissa, and Andy are circumnavigating Lake Superior on foot to collect water samples and raise awareness for microplastics research, and “for love of the lake.”

Starting in Ashland, WI, the runners have been on the road since May 20. Though the runners are preparing themselves for the long haul on their three month journey, they say that their bodies are starting to adjust to the grueling conditions and physical demand of the run.

So far, the runners have collected two samples on their journey, around Duluth and Grand Marais (both Minnesota), and said they would be collecting another in Thunder Bay before they set off. They’re looking to collect a mix of urban and rural lake samples to gauge population impact on the water. Their next samples will mostly be all rural, as they will not reach another major city centre on the North Shore until they hit Sault Ste. Marie.

For their interviews, the runners are aiming to speak with a large cross-section of society, everyone from farmers to academics to young entrepreneurs. They’re hoping to ask what brought people to the shores of Lake Superior, what their connection to the lake means to them, and what challenges they face as inhabitants of the Great Lakes Basin.

For their own challenges on the run, the runners laughed and told Sam they find themselves end their daily runs with a gigantic hill – “some cosmic coincidence” that just seems to happen as a result of their route planning. Allissa noted that the best part of running the hills is that they’ve been treated to stellar views of Superior from the top. She also noted that they’ve tried to stay as close to the lake as possible, but that the roads can stray from the shoreline so they will sometimes go days without seeing water.

To hear the whole podcast, clocking in just over 6 minutes, click ‘play’ on the link above. To read the runners’ blog detailing their experiences on the road, click here.  And if you see these three pushing a stroller down the highway, cheer them on!

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