June 21st and 22nd meetings in Thunder Bay let Lake Superior speak. The lake was given voice by representatives of agencies from around Lake Superior, working to implement environmental restoration and protection through Lake Superior’s Lakewide Action and Management Plan. The Lake Superior Partnership is just that, a team effort to ensure continued environmental quality in and around Lake Superior through cooperation.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) takes the lead role on the Canadian side of Lake Superior, co- chairing partnership efforts with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Partnership co-chairs are joined by federal, provincial, state, tribal and a growing contingent of First Nations representatives who lead day-to-day efforts aimed at ensuring Lake Superior environmental quality.
Examples of actions implemented by the member agencies of the Lake Superior Partnership include:
- a cooperative science and monitoring program to better understand environmental conditions in and around Lake Superior, assisting in identifying challenges and priorities
- a lakewide effort to monitor the health of fish populations, abundance and diversity of species
- support to community events for environmentally sound disposal of household hazardous wastes like pesticides, oil, paint and cleaning products
- preservation of important habitat for wildlife and recreational use
- identification and management of invasive aquatic species, including plants like non-native phragmities,
- concerted effort to begin major cleanups at contaminated sites, like Buffalo Reef on the east side of the Keweenaw Peninsula, where migration of copper mining stamp sands waste is threatening to envelop critical fish spawning habitat
- cleanup, protection and enhanced public access to Lake Superior shoreline at sites like Pays Plat First Nation.
A list of the thirty partnership agencies would be much too long for this article. Representative of Canadian efforts through Thunder Bay attendance are the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Parks Canada and on the U.S. side by Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Natural Resources and Minnesota Pollution Control. This partial list is buttressed by strong Partnership participation by the U.S. Geological Survey, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Indigenous communities are a cornerstone of lakewide management. Participants at the June meetings in Thunder Bay included the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, 1854 Treaty Authority, Fort William First Nation, Bay Mills Indian Community, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
The Thunder Bay meetings were very focused. Efforts of every participant had a single point of convergence: how to harness limited resources to effectively implement the Lake Superior Lakewide Action and Management Plan to restore, protect and monitor the Lake Superior ecosystem.
If the lake spoke at the Partnership meetings in Thunder Bay, what did it say? It spoke with conviction and concern, putting forward solid scientific data about water quality and the health of fish and other aquatic and terrestrial populations. Discussions included habitat conditions, outreach and engagement, sustainable development within the watershed, and even factors from afar like atmospheric deposition of contaminants affecting the lake. The Partnership meeting in Thunder Bay and corresponding Lake Superior Lakewide Action and Management Plan are part of a concerted, organized, cross-border team effort to take this information and act in the best interest of Lake Superior and the many people that use and enjoy this incomparable resource.
Continued teamwork and conviction by Partnership agencies is critical to continued action and progress. Find out more about the Lake Superior Lakewide Action and Management Plan and related activities on binational.net, including annual updates on progress and challenges, Lake Superior Action Plan Annual Reports.
Lake Superior Areas of Concern:
- Deer Lake AOC – Michigan – DELISTED
- St. Louis River AOC – Minnesota, Wisconsin
- Torch Lake AOC – Michigan
- Thunder Bay AOC – Ontario
- Nipigon Bay AOC – Ontario
- Jackfish Bay AOC in Recovery – Ontario
- Peninsula Harbour AOC – Ontario