Month: June 2019

Classifying Lakes: Eutrophication in the Boreal Forest Ecozone

Many policies and programs aimed at maintaining healthy lakes depend on measuring their level of eutrophication. Lake Superior is oligotrophic: relatively deep, clear and nutrient poor. – Image from https://informationtips.wordpress.com

What is Eutrophication?


Lakes are classified based on trophic state, which is a measure of the nutrient level, clarity, and abundance of living organisms in a body of water. The trophic state for lakes ranges from oligotrophic lakes (deep, cold, clear water lakes with limited fish, plant and algal growth)  to eutrophic lakes (shallow, warm water lakes with an abundance of small fast growing fish, plants and algae). Mesotrophic is the middle state between these two. Eutrophication of a lake is the enrichment of nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon and many others) that allows for increased growth of aquatic plant life (phytoplankton), which results in the depletion of the lake’s dissolved oxygen. Depleted oxygen or anoxia in lakes, can result in the lake becoming uninhabitable for fish. Anoxic conditions in lakes are also linked to internal loading (nutrients released from lake sediments) which further contributes to eutrophication and algal blooms.  

Eutrophication is a natural process. It normally takes centuries for lakes to transition from oligotrophic to eutrophic as precipitation (snow, and rain) erodes rocks and soil, picking up and transporting nutrients and particulates into lakes, which gradually become shallower and more nutrient-rich. Nutrients support primary production (plant and algal growth), which provides an abundant food source for zooplankton and small fish, which in turn support larger fish. As nutrient and sediment inputs continue over decades, the system will begin to have such an abundance of primary production that the oxygen within the system will not support fish and the lake becomes eutrophic.


The three trophic states of lakes from left to right, Oligotrophic, Mesotrophic, and Eutrophic. Note the increasing amount of sediment and vegetation in and around the lake as a result of increasing nutrients within the water. – Image credit to RMB Environmental Laboratories. RMBEL.info


Eutrophic lakes are normally associated with warm geographic regions where lakes reach higher temperatures and where numerous sunny days provide the necessary light intensity to support large phytoplankton communities. The concept that natural climate conditions control a lake’s ability to produce large phytoplankton blooms has lead to the assumption that boreal shield lakes are generally oligotrophic.

Anthropogenic Eutrophication


Anthropogenic eutrophication is eutrophication expedited by human impacts, such as agriculture and urban development, which increase the nutrient load on nearby lakes. In the 1960s, research into anthropogenic eutrophication took off in response to the rapid eutrophication of Lake Erie. The scientific community was divided on the topic: large soap companies pushing carbon as the limiting nutrient responsible for Lake Erie’s issues, while others tried to argue that it was phosphorus.    

In 1969, David Schindler and colleagues established the Experimental Lakes Area in Northwestern Ontario where they could do whole ecosystem experiments on real lakes, in large part, to understand what causes anthropogenic eutrophication. Their eutrophication study divided Lake 226 with a plastic curtain into the North and South basin. The Northside had phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon added, while in the Southside, only nitrogen and carbon were added. The North basin developed sickly pea green algal blooms while the south remained clear. This was a piece of crucial evidence that paved the way for worldwide policy changes.  


Aerial image of Experimental Lake Area (ELA) Lake 226 showing the curtain dividing the North and South basins and show the classic green algae bloom. – Image is taken from https://sites.google.com/site/experimentallakearea/3/a-eutrophication-lake-227-and-226.

Both nitrogen and phosphorus were added to a separate lake, Lake 227, until 1990. From 1990 to present only phosphorus has been added with continued algal blooms (https://www.iisd.org/ela/about/who-we-are/). The now-famous eutrophication experiment proved that phosphorus, from anthropogenic sources, was the nutrient responsible for massive algal blooms in Lake Erie.  


Aerial image of Experimetnal Lake Area (ELA) Lake 227 showing lakewide algal bloom. – Image is taken from https://sites.google.com/site/experimentallakearea/3/a-eutrophication-lake-227-and-226.

How is Eutrophication Measured?


The level of Eutrophication in a lake can be approximated by measuring the clarity of its water, the concentration of chlorophyll in the lake, and the total phosphorus content of the lake. Clearer water means less ‘stuff’ floating around in the water and is associated with more oligotrophic lakes. Less light penetration usually means more ‘stuff’ (i.e. algae) in the water and is associated with more eutrophic lakes.

The clarity of water determines how far light can penetrate into the water and light is a driving factor for photosynthesis and chlorophyll concentration. Light penetration is measured using a secchi disc, a flat disc of about 4 inches in diameter that is checker pattern, black and white, in quarters.


A secchi disk is used to measure the clarity of a body of water. – Image form: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/sciencemaths-technology/science/chemistry/test-kits-water-analysis/content-section-4.1

The disc is lowered into the water until you can no longer distinguish the pattern, then brought back up so you can just barely see it. This is the light penetration or secchi disc depth. Chlorophyll ‘a’ is the pigment associated with plants and a higher concentration of chlorophyll is associated with higher concentrations of algae in the water. Additionally, total phosphorus (TP) provides an indication of the available nutrients used by the algae in the water. Higher TP is again associated with higher algae, which will mean higher chlorophyll, which means limited light penetration.

Research by Vollenwieder (1969) and by Dillion and Rigler (1974) determined that collecting total phosphorus concentrations during the spring freshet, when ice and snow are melting and rushing into rivers and lakes, was ideal because the water within the lake is mixing. A sample of water at this time could provide a representative sample of the whole. Specifically, the TP at this time could be used to predict the concentration of phytoplankton seen on the lake later in the summer, removing the need for the additional sampling of lakes throughout the open water season.


Image depicting the phosphorus cycle for terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. – Image is from https://biologydictionary.net/phosphorus-cycle/.

Currently, the Ontario Ministry Of Environment, Conservation, and Parks collects samples and monitors surface water conditions following this line of thought. Technicians go to lakes throughout Ontario during the spring (April and May) when lakes are mixed to collect water samples for analysis. This work provides data on the current abundance of TP in and entering lakes. The Ontario guideline stipulates that 20ug (micrograms) per litre of water is the assigned threshold in which a water sample is deemed micrograms too high and associated with a high probability of nuisance algal blooms.

Is Eutrophication a Problem in the Boreal Forest Ecozone?


Boreal Shield: “The Boreal Shield is the largest (about 20 percent of Canada, or over 1.9 million km2) of all the ecozone units. It is broadly U-shaped and extends from northern Saskatchewan east to Newfoundland. From northern Saskatchewan, it passes north of Lake Winnipeg, the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence River to Newfoundland. The rocky hills, coniferous forests and abundance of lakes are recurring parts of this well-known landscape”. (https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/natural-regions)

Boreal Shield Lakes


The studies previously mentioned in this article, which advanced our understanding of phosphorus’s role in aquatic ecosystems,  were conducted at the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), a large section of land with 58 lakes located just East of Kenora and within the Boreal Forest Ecozone. The lakes at the ELA are oligotrophic Canadian Shield lakes and are a small portion of the thousands of lakes in Northern Ontario that fall into the Boreal Forest Ecozone.

Lakes within the Boreal Forest Ecozone are generally assumed to be oligotrophic lakes: cold, clear, relatively deep, and generally pristine. Because of limited nutrients, lakes in this region are not associated with having algal problems. Although the ELA contains lakes that are representative of many oligotrophic lakes in the Boreal Forest Ecozone, there is a wide variety of lakes with varying trophic states throughout this region. This is clear to those who have had the opportunity to visit the lakes. Furthermore, oligotrophic lakes are not immune to eutrophication. Even the region’s deepest and most well-known oligotrophic lake, Lake Superior, experienced a cyanobacterial bloom last summer.


Sediment flowing into Lake Superior observed after major flooding in June, 2018. Flooding in Summer 2018, which brought nutrients and sediment into Lake Superior, was closely tied to algae blooms. – Image from NASA earth observatory

Anthropogenic Eutrophication of Boreal Shield Lakes


As previously stated, anthropogenic eutrophication is often caused by phosphorus loading associated with agriculture and urban development, but other anthropogenic nutrient sources exist. In Northern Ontario, there is very little agriculture, with forestry and mining being the major industries.

Although comparatively minimal nutrient contribution is associated with mining and forestry, there is still a possible increase of contaminants entering the aquatic systems. These contaminants are not exclusively nutrients but can also be harmful chemicals. When forested areas are cleared for logging or mining it can cause increases in surface-water runoff. Rainwater running over the ground, no longer absorbed by the vegetation, picks up nutrients and transports these nutrients into the watershed where they are available for use by phytoplankton.

Northern Ontario watersheds are also home to camps (lakeside cabins) that provide great fishing and leisure activities. The development of these properties can also contribute to nutrient enrichment of the lakes where they are built resulting in loss of the riparian buffer along the shore that would help keep surface runoff from entering directly into the lake. If you have the opportunity to walk the trails around Thunder Bay you will notice the many sections along McVicar or the MacIntyre where people’s lawns come right down to the river’s edge. Any grass or plant fertilizer that happens to be on the lawn during a rain event can easily end up in the river and ultimately Lake Superior.

Author: Nathan Wilson is a PhD candidate at Lakehead University. His focus is on examining lakes within Northwestern Ontario to better understand nutrients and cyanobacteria.


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Op-ed | The Future of the Lake Superior Caribou


This op-ed was authored by the following individuals: Gord Eason, Dr. Brian McLaren, Dr. Serge Couturier, Dr. Christian Schroeder, Marcel Pellegrini, Aaron Bumstead, and Leo Lepiano.

There are likely fewer than 20 caribou left on the North Shore, about 15 on the Slate Islands, and no more than 10 on Caribou Island. On March 28th, the Province of Ontario held a workshop on the future of the Lake Superior caribou. During the meeting, attendees raised some concerns over conflicts between caribou management and other uses of the mainland north of Lake Superior.

The three main concerns were that protecting caribou on the mainland would harm forestry, reduce moose harvest, and restrict access to the land. The following is our response to these concerns.

Caribou and Forestry


The best way to keep caribou in the area over the long term is to connect the isolated Lake Superior range to the continuous distribution of caribou to the north. Movement between these areas would augment the populations and provide genetic diversity. Recent genetic work has confirmed that there are still animals dispersing between the ranges, even with so few caribou left along Lake Superior.


Caribou ranges in Ontario. – Photo from MNRF State of the Woodland Caribou Resource Report 2014

Concern was expressed that provincial policy requires permanent forest corridors connecting the caribou ranges, which decreases the total allowable harvest in a forest management unit. This problem of permanently deferred corridors could be solved simply by having temporary corridors. These corridors would change location as the habitat changes and would not reduce the harvest area over time.

But there are larger problems with forestry in the region. While there is no shortage of wood to cut around Lake Superior, almost all of the harvest demand is for mature conifer, and those stands are heavily targeted. Hardwoods and mixed woods are often left unharvested. Coupled with decades of inadequate conifer regeneration, the forest is moving further and further from the amount of mature conifer that was present in the pre-industrial forest.

Both the forest industry and caribou require mature conifer. As the amount of mature conifer declines, all of the remaining mature conifer stands and therefore all of the caribou habitat is on the cutting block. Solving this problem would benefit the economy of the region, as well as the caribou.

Restoring the mature conifer component of the original forest is a long-term effort, but it would eventually provide a steadier and higher supply of mature conifer to mills and avoid a boom-bust cycle. It would also provide a significant and consistent amount of caribou habitat. In the short term it will be necessary to keep mature conifer habitat in the rugged areas along the Lake Superior shore where the last few of the caribou still persist. But that leaves most of the conifer, which is back from the Lake, to be managed for wood supply.

The Importance of Moose


Moose are important for food, recreation, economic benefits and cultural practices. These benefits will not disappear from the region as a result of prudent caribou conservation efforts. However, moose are under threat from unregulated hunting, as well as climate change. Moose start to go into thermal stress at temperatures of about 14C. Warmer summers with increased periods of extreme heat are likely to result in a significant decline of moose over the coming decades, should we fail to avoid the worst of climate change. In that case woodland caribou offer potential benefits. Caribou do not show signs of thermal stress until 35C. Island populations could be managed with controlled First Nation hunts, and caribou could replace declining moose numbers on the mainland.

We also heard it suggested that the reduction in moose numbers as a caribou conservation tactic is a violation of Treaty rights. When the treaties were signed, moose were not abundant in the area, if present at all, whereas woodland caribou were the main cervid. Elsewhere in Canada, First Nations have threatened to sue the government over the extirpation of caribou, because their absence on the landscape means they can no longer be hunted by either current or future generations.

Predator-Prey Dynamics

Changes in the regions forests have led to an increase in moose populations over the last century. The earliest record of a moose encountered in the Chapleau area is from 1898, and where moose were present north of Superior, their densities would have been very low. Woodland caribou, on the other hand, extended as far south as Manitoulin Island and the French river in the late 19th century.


This image was taken at the Hudson’s Bay post on the Michipicoten River near Wawa in the late 19th century. It is a fascinating photo for many reasons, but note the caribou antlers above the door on the building to the right. – Photo from https://searcharchives.vancouver.ca found by Johanna Rowe of Wawa

By increasing moose in the region in recent times, we’ve increased the amount of prey available to predators like wolves and bears. The increase in wolf populations is further exacerbated by all of the linear features on the landscape, which make it easier for wolves to move far distances, increasing their chances of encountering prey. Caribou, which are smaller and less productive than moose, cannot maintain themselves against this increased predation, and are eventually extirpated.

Land Access


Restricting forest access for caribou conservation is based on the idea that the fewer linear features on the landscape, the more difficult it is for wolves to find prey. We heard concerns that closing roads and trails for caribou conservation seriously reduced access for activities like fishing, hunting, trapping, and berry picking.

While some roads may need to be closed in areas where there are known to be caribou, widespread road closures are not necessary. There may also be good reasons to keep access, particularly where we would benefit from having trappers removing wolves.

Conclusion We believe that managing caribou well results in good land management. Losing caribou along the Lake Superior shore, where it is technically feasible to keep them, means we have chosen not to manage our forests for ecological sustainability. It also means we are willing to disregard our endangered species legislation. Such a choice also means we are not managing the forest for economic sustainability. By not maintaining and regenerating caribou habitat, we are not maintaining and regenerating our wood supply either. By shying away from difficult conversations about forest access, unregulated moose hunting, and climate change, we are doing a further disservice to all of us, including those yet to be born


Citation

Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF). 2014. State of the Woodland Caribou Resource Report. Species at
Risk Branch, Thunder Bay, Ontario. + 156 pp.


Infosuperior provides an open source for dialogue. The views expressed in submitted essays and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of Infosuperior.


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Infosuperior Cover Photos – Keep Them Coming

The Terry Wurdeman cover photo for Infosuperior’s August 1, 2018 edition. Terry took the picture of this Semipalmated Sandpiper on wet beach gravel, Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior.

Connecting to Lake Superior Through Images


Infosuperior fosters interest, knowledge and respect for Lake Superior, building broader public support for restoration and protection. 

Great photographs of Lake Superior connect people with the lake. For this reason, the incredible cover photos that Infosuperior has run have helped us meet our mission to foster interest, knowledge and respect for Lake Superior. Many photographers have voluntarily donated some of their best shots because they share this mission with us.

Over the years, Infosuperior has accessed photographic talent from every state and province around Lake Superior. We are grateful to every person who has contributed to our publication, including the following artists:

There is an incredible pool of talented individuals with an insatiable passion to photograph Lake Superior. Whether in Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan, these photographers have a profound “sense of place” and connection to Lake Superior. 


The Mathew Pastick cover photo for Infosuperior’s June 1st, 2018 edition. Matt took this photo at 4:35 a.m. on May 27th, 2018 near Split Rock Lighthouse during a storm rapidly moving out onto Lake Superior.

Infosuperior Seeks Excellent Cover Photos


Infosuperior is always seeking excellent cover photos. We depend on subscribers from around the lake to supply these photos. We obviously cannot use every photo submitted but if you have a photo which might make a great cover shot, we are interested. Get in touch through jfbailey@lakeheadu.ca.

Infosuperior has just one over-arching theme or guideline…only Lake Superior. Photos should reflect this, but the lake provides an almost limitless palette.


The Joan Berezowski cover photo for Infosuperior’s December 1, 2017 edition. Joan took this photo of the icebreaker “Alexander Henry”, on November 23, 2017, in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Infosuperior is especially interested in photos which reflect Lake Superior conditions around each monthly publication date (a recent storm, melting shoreline ice, first snow, etc). We publish through all seasons of the year and our cover photos reflect this (i.e. summer photos for summer newsletter editions, etc.). Submitted photos should be medium to high resolution.

Get in touch if you have a great photo you’d like to share with a very broad audience. The best time to submit is a few days in advance of publication date on the first of each month. Here are a few suggestions for photo themes:

  • Lake Superior scenery
  • Lake Superior storms
  • Lake Superior in other moods 
  • fog and the incredible affect it can have on photos of Lake Superior and surroundings
  • Lake Superior science including habitat restoration projects, fish/animal population surveys, education activities
  • Lake Superior activities like sailing, kayaking, camping, fishing, iceboating, surfing
  • fish, birds and animals on, in or around Lake Superior
  • commercial activities related to Lake Superior like fishing and lake shipping.

Jan Swart took this photo of Duluth, Minnesota’s Brighton Beach on January 13th, 2018, just in time for Infosuperior’s January 15, 2018 edition.

Lake Superior is Incredible – You Want More People to Know it


Infosuperior is associated with the Departement of Geography and the Environment at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The newsletter has approximately 1600 direct subscribers around Lake Superior, in Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and beyond. Many thousand more access Infosuperior through social media. Infosuperior does not pay for photos, so there is only one reason to submit a photo: like us, you believe Lake Superior is incredible and you’d like more people to know about it. Infosuperior makes no money from either the newsletter or submitted photos. We provide photo credit for all photos utilized.

Heartfelt thanks from Infosuperior and all of its readers to photographers from around the lake who have donated their time, expertise and passion to bring thousands of people closer to Lake Superior each month. Thanks in advance to all who submit photos, anytime, year round.


The Terry Wurdeman cover photo for Infosuperior’s April 30th, 2017 edition. Terry took this photo at Sawpit Bay, between Agawa Bay & Pancake Bay, Ontario, Lake Superior.

LINKS:

Access any previous edition of Infosuperior here.


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Thunder Bay PAC Meeting – June 19 (ATAC 3004)

A Google Earth Image of the northern portion of Thunder Bay Harbour with Boulevard Lake top left and the harbour breakwall lower right. The June 19th meeting will focus on an overview of the contamination in North Harbour, work completed toward cleanup, and planned efforts to move forward with the project.

The Public Advisory Committee (PAC) to the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan (RAP) will hold its next meeting on June 19th, 2019 at 7pm in the ATAC Building (Room 3004) at Lakehead University.

The focus of the meeting will be on the Thunder Bay North Harbour. The North Harbour Working Group will be presenting information from their completed engineering studies. 

A detailed agenda for the meeting as well as the minutes of the previous meeting can be found below:

The meeting is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. There is no charge. Observers do not participate in committee decisions but may be allowed to address the meeting at the discretion of the chair.

Remedial Action Plans work to address environmental, chemical, physical, and biological degradation resulting in pollution and adverse impacts to natural habitats in Areas of Concern on the Great Lakes. They are supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Lakehead University.


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Thunder Bay RAP Milestone: Aesthetics Not Impaired

Extensive surveys of Thunder Bay Harbour were carried out in 2012, 2015 and 2016. The harbour was found to be free of slicks, scums, odours, foam, unnatural deposits, colour and turbidity. (Photo: infosuperior.com)

A significant milestone has been achieved bringing Thunder Bay Harbour one step closer to removal from the list of Great Lakes environmental “Areas of Concern.”

In a May 3rd letter to Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan Coordinator Samuel Pegg, Mike Goffin, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Regional Director General for Ontario announced the following:

I am pleased to inform you that the Degradation of Aesthetics beneficial use impairment is hereby designated as, “not impaired”, pursuant to the provisions of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, 2012.

The International Joint Commission and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks are copied on the letter which also congratulates the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan Public Advisory Committee, a group closely involved in harbour cleanup.


Thunder Bay Harbour was highly industrialized in previous decades, leading to substantial impacts on water quality and aesthetics. (Photo circa 1970 – Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks)

Aesthetics and Water Quality Aligned


Aesthetics and harbour water quality are closely linked. Degraded aesthetics refers to slicks, scums, odours, foam, unnatural deposits, colour or turbidity. These factors have severely affected Thunder Bay Harbour water quality and aesthetics.

A 2018 Remedial Action Plan report on harbour aesthetics notes that “When the waters in and around the City of Thunder Bay were designated as an Area of Concern in 1987, water quality, recreational use and the aesthetics of the Area of Concern were impacted by discharges of pollutants from local pulp and paper industries and wastewater treatment plants, urban runoff and the use of the harbour for logging booms and shipping waste. Persistent noxious odours, visible scum, organic material and oil deposits were observed.


The central portion of Thunder Bay Harbour circa 1970. A number of initiatives to improve industrial and municipal effluent treatment resulted in improved harbour water quality subsequent to this photo being taken. (Photo: Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks)

Improved Water Quality Resulted from Substantive Actions


The 2018 report recommends that “Degradation of Aesthetics” be removed from the list of Impairments in the Thunder Bay Area of Concern, based upon extensive harbour surveys in 2012, 2015 and 2016. The report notes several actions which have led to improved harbour water quality and aesthetics, including the following:

1991 – Bowater Pulp and Paper Mill upgraded their treatment technology to improve the quality of wastewater discharged to the Kaministiquia River. Cost – approximately $68 million. Proponent: Bowater Inc. (now Resolute Forest Products Inc.)

1995 – Abitibi–Consolidated Inc. completed the installation of secondary effluent treatment – Proponent: Abitibi–Consolidated Inc.

1997 – Smurfit-Stone Container Canada Inc. upgraded its treatment technology to improve the quality of wastewater discharged to Lake Superior. The cost of this upgrade is unknown – Proponent: Smurfit-Stone Container Canada Inc.

1999 – The City of Thunder Bay adopted the Pollution Prevention Control Plan to reduce urban pollutant loadings to receiving waters and to protect water resources. Proponent: City of Thunder Bay, Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Agreement

2002 – Northern Wood Preservers, Canadian National Railway Co., Abitibi-Consolidated Inc., Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment completed the Northern Wood Preservers Alternative Remediation Concept (NOWPARC). The project cleaned up contaminated sediment and improved fish and wildlife habitat, costing $25 million. Proponent: Abitibi-Price Inc., Canadian National Railway Inc., Northern Sawmills Inc., Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Environment Canada’s Great Lakes Cleanup Fund

2005 – The City of Thunder Bay upgraded to secondary treatment at the Water Pollution Control Plant to improve wastewater quality discharged to Lake Superior. The cost of this project was $73.6 million. Proponent: City of Thunder Bay, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Environment Canada’s Great Lakes Cleanup Fund

2012 – A survey by kayak of all areas of Thunder Bay Harbour, including the Kaministiquia River up to the Resolute Forest Products outall concluded that there was no evidence of objectionable deposits, unnatural colour or turbidity, or unnatural odour.

2015 and 2016 – Surveys by boat of all areas of Thunder Bay Harbour, including the Kaministiquia River up to the Resolute Forest Products outfall concludes that aesthetic condtions in Thunder Bay Harbour are “good to excellent.”


Cleanup of creosote contamination around this former wood preserving facility on Thunder Bay Harbour was completed in 2003. The cleanup was one of several project which led to improved water quality and aesthetics in Thunder Bay Harbour (Photo: Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks)

Links:

Letter from Mike Goffin, Environment and Climate Change Canada stating that “Degradation of Aesthetics” has been removed from the list of environmental impairments in the Thunder Bay Area of Concern.

Report (2018) outlining factors which have led to improved harbour aesthetics and recommending removal of “Degradation of Aesthetics” from the list of Thunder Bay Area of Concern Beneficial Use Impairments.

Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan, or cleanup plan, overview

List of Thunder Bay Area of Concern impairments and their status.


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Rossport Sea Kayak Safari

Parks Canada’s #WeLoveSuperior series continues with Kayaking in Rossport on June 14th.

Parks Canada is getting ready for another exciting season on the shores of the largest freshwater lake in the world. And this June, they’re introducing a very special program to Canadians for the first time – Rossport Fishtails: A Sea Kayak Safari. Parks Canada is really looking forward to delivering this program – and has added a KAYAKING ADVENTURE to the #WeLoveSuperior Series lineup!

Link to Parks Canada and The Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area

On Friday June 14th, they’re inviting you to take part in this #WeLoveSuperior Series program with Parks Canada and Superior Outfitters. The event will explore the history and culture of Rossport and the surrounding island archipelago – and paddlers will discover what Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area is all about! Kayaks, paddles and safety equipment (such as PFDs) will be provided by Superior Outfitters within the program fee.

Here is some additional information:

Who: Kayaking equipment and guiding is provided by Superior Outfitters in Rossport, and Parks Canada interpreters will accompany the group to share the stories of this area.

Time/Date: June 14th at 10 AM. The program will be approximately 2 hours long.

Location: Superior Outfitters in Rossport, ON (located at the Rossport Marina)

Program Cost: 

The cost of the program is $30 – payable to Superior Outfitters in Rossport.

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Panorama of Old Woman Bay Under the Milky Way

Old Woman Bay at approximately 4 a.m.in early May, 2019. Photo: Kevin Dempsey

More information about Old Woman Bay.

For those interested in the making of the image: This shot was planned out from home, in the weeks leading up to my drive to Ottawa, using some free software (Stellarium and Google Earth). There aren’t that many scenic places left that enjoy night skies free from light pollution and are still accessible to lazy photographers such as myself. This location I know pretty well from past drives, and so I thought maybe it would be a good night sky photo candidate. However, clouds and fog are often an issue in Lake Superior Park.

The night before I started my drive, I checked the weather, and it looked as though perhaps the sky would be clear. So I headed out, and once I got to Wawa, I checked again. The forecast had changed to cloudy. I thought, well, might as well set my alarm anyways, and see what it’s like. At 2:15, just before my alarm, my hotel neighbours came back from a night out. The dog started barking, so up I got. It still said it was mostly cloudy, but it suggested it might clear by dawn. I figured my chances were slim, since the darkest skies are not just before the dawn, but rather around 3am or so. Nevertheless, I headed out, coffee in hand. I wonder what the hotel manager thought of my early checkout.

On the road, me and Duke, the skies were still cloudy, until just before I got to the vista overlooking Old Woman Bay. Of course, I couldn’t see the scene from the road, but I could see Jupiter, and I realized the clouds were clearing. It was a tad creepy when I parked just before 3 am. There was another car, and they were just parking. We all got out of our cars, but we didn’t speak to each other. They seemed to be looking for something they’d left at the beach, and they left shortly after I set up.

The first few shots I took showed mostly cloud, but by the time I had figured out the composition I wanted, they had mostly cleared. My tripod ballhead has degree markers, which let me take 5 shots in 15 degree increments for the sky exposure, then put repeat for the foreground. (You can’t take two exposures in the same orientation and repeat five times, because the sky will have moved, owing to the several minutes it takes to expose for the foreground.) Several shots were spoiled by trucks coming along the highway, but for the most part Duke and I were completely alone. 

Stitching together and blending the images is still a bit of work. The two exposures inevitably don’t quite line up, as the camera position is never exactly the same. Also, getting the right amount of brightness in the foreground while not making it look too unreal is tricky, as is the blending along the horizon. (An earlier edit of this image had a darker foreground.) I realize it’s all a matter of taste. Some people love these shots, and some people think, well that’s not how it looks in real life. I’d argue that it does look that way, more or less, if you let your eyes adjust. The camera captures a bit more than we can see, but not more than we can feel when we’re out there.

…A big thanks from Infosuperior to Kevin for this photo.

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