THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2018
Concurrent Sessions 1
Concurrent Sessions 2
Concurrent Sessions 3
Fundraising Gala Dinner
FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2018
Concurrent Sessions 4
Concurrent Sessions 5
Concurrent Sessions 6
*Please note that a detailed print copy of the conference program will be included in packages provided to all participants.
Thursday, May 10, 2018 - 9:30am
Great Lakes Water Levels: Past, Present, and Future
Dr. Andrew D. Gronewold, Physical Scientist
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Water levels of the Great Lakes fluctuate in response to a variety of factors, including changes in precipitation, runoff, and evaporation. Over shorter time periods, water levels fluctuate in response to changes in wind speed and direction (among other factors). Over the past two decades, Great Lakes water levels have reached extreme highs and lows, raising important questions about differentiating drivers of water level variability and the relative significance of long term trends. In this presentation, Dr. Gronewold will provide an overview of historical water level data across the Great Lakes, including an analysis of recent historic water level extremes. His presentation will also include a discussion of Great Lakes water level forecasting across daily, seasonal, and multi-decadal time scales.
Friday, May 11, 2018 - 9:30am
Cal Kothrade, Photographer/Artist
Milwaukee Dive Apparel
When you look out over the water of the Great Lakes, do you ever wonder what lies beneath those blue-green waves? Milwaukee area photographer Cal Kothrade has spent the last decade shooting pictures of shipwrecks, from all five of the Great Lakes, as well as the oceans of North America, in order to show others the haunting beauty of the deep. Find out what it takes to safely dive nearly 200 feet into icy cold waters, and bring back award winning shots of historic shipwrecks. Cal will discuss the dive equipment, training, camera gear, and skill sets required to image these eerily beautiful wrecks. He will discuss how he became interested in diving, as well as share personal stories from ten years of traveling across the continent in search of the next incredible dive adventure.
THURSDAY, MAY 10, 2018
CONCURRENT SESSIONS 1 - 11:00 AM
Love Your Greats: The search for environmental optimism
Jen Pate, Co-Founder
Love Your Greats
What does it take to motivate people to actively care for their environment? In most cases, it is personal experience and connection that creates the foundation for our actions. If we don't feel a sense of care for something, we won't take the actions necessary to protect it. Through her experience on the Oceans and the Great Lakes, Jen is sharing a love story - a unique one of people's passion for their local waterways and their willingness to instigate meaningful change for a healthier future. Join her for a session which explores plastic pollution as an illustration of our interconnectedness with the world around us and how we navigate the space between environmental degradation and optimism.
The changing ecology and fish communities of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay
Arunas Liskauskas, Management Biologist
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Upper Great Lakes Management Unit
The Lake Huron aquatic ecosystem has experienced profound changes to the composition and dynamics of its fish communities. Most of these recent changes are a consequence of the continued introduction of invasive exotic species which have altered food webs, affecting the most minute plankton species as well as top predatory fishes. We will review the historic legacy of changes in the lake and highlight contemporary developments that range from tentative steps towards native species recovery to the ongoing proliferation of exotic species, habitat alteration and climate change.
CONCURRENT SESSIONS 2 - 1:30 PM
Digging into litter data: From shoreline cleanups to solutions
Susan Debreceni, Outreach Specialist
Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
Since 1994, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup has engaged more than 700,000 Canadians and removed over 1.2 million kg of litter through volunteer-led local shoreline cleanups. This national cleanup is a conservation partnership by Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada and is one of the largest direct action conservation programs in Canada. Global contamination of plastic litter in our rivers, lakes and oceans has negatively impacted hundreds of species due to ingestion and entanglement. From the long-term data that our volunteers have collected, we see an emerging trend that the majority of items found on shorelines fall within the category of single-use plastics. For the first time in the history of the shoreline cleanup, the top item reported in 2017 was tiny plastics and foam (333,289), indicative that this is a material found in high numbers but also that awareness of this material is growing. This dataset adds a powerful layer to driving solutions towards minimizing the amount of plastics in our aquatic ecosystems and there are clear examples of citizen science data being used to inform local changes.
Clean water and a healthy ecosystem within the Pine River watershed: Celebrating ten years of community driven environmental stewardship
Emily Martin, Projects Coordinator
Pine River Watershed Initiative Network
The Pine River Watershed Initiative Network recently celebrated ten years of incorporation as a non-profit organization. We have grown from a small kitchen-table group taking on smaller tree planting projects, to an organization that in 2018 alone will plant over 25,000 seedlings, build three livestock river crossings, install over four kilometers of livestock exclusion fencing, and construct five water and sediment control berms. Project Coordinator Emily Martin will discuss the factors that have allowed PRWIN to succeed as an organization, and will highlight a number of the most prominent environmental concerns in the Pine River watershed as well as the past and future PRWIN projects and programs that combat these issues.
CONCURRENT SESSIONS 3 - 3:00 PM
Charting a renewed course for Fathom Five National Marine Park
Megan Myles, Visitor Experience Product Development Officer
Parks Canada, Fathom Five National Marine Park
Now, thirty years since establishment, Fathom Five National Marine Park is developing a renewed vision that strives to position the park as a leader in marine conservation, a world-class destination for Canadians to experience the Georgian Bay, and a model for sustainable tourism. In 1987, Fathom Five became Canada’s first National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) and in light of complex governance challenges, the park continues to work towards becoming established in its own right. However, the future is bright as a new, three-person Fathom Five Strategy Team has been tasked with addressing these challenges as well as operational issues associated with increased visitation and tourism pressures. A new management plan is in the works, making for an opportune time to create this renewed vision. Nationally, the government’s restored commitment to the NMCA program, and locally, community efforts towards sustainable tourism, both support Fathom Five’s important cause.
Is it safe to swim in the lake and play in the sand?: E. coli and beaches
Dr. Allan Crowe, Science Advisor
Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
Nothing can spoil your day at the beach more than finding that your beach has been posted with an advisory against swimming for health issues. The bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli) is frequently found in the lake water adjacent to all beaches along the shores of the Great Lakes during the summer, and often at levels than result in municipalities posting warnings and/or closures to swimming. But the lake water is not the only place that this bacteria is found. E. coli is also present in the beach sand adjacent to the shore, and often at levels many times higher than the lake water. The presence of E. coli at beaches is caused by both natural factors and activities of local residents. This presentation will discuss the sources of the E. coli, its health risks, what beach residents can do to reduce levels of E.coli in both lake water and beach sand.
FRIDAY, MAY 11, 2018
CONCURRENT SESSIONS 4 - 11:00 AM
Conservation implications of being a habitat generalist and a seasonal activity specialist: A case study using the Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata)
Dr. Jacqueline D. Litzgus, Professor, Department of Biology
The more I study Spotted Turtles (Clemmys guttata), the more I realize that there is still much to learn about this Species at Risk. My students and I have been studying and visiting various populations in Canada and the USA for more than 25 years, and I am frequently amazed by the differences in ecology among sites. Based on our observations, I was recently struck by two facts regarding Spotted Turtle habitat and activity patterns: on a global scale, the species is a habitat generalist, but at the local scale, individual populations are specialists in terms of their activity cycles. Across the North American range, we have found populations in cypress-tupelo swamp forests, alder swamps, sphagnum and fern swamps, open-canopy fens, bogs, flowing streams, stagnant beaver ponds, man-made ditches, and even small pools on rocky islands. Given such diversity, how does one quantify or predict the species’ habitat preference? Locally, Spotted Turtles display predictable seasonal shifts in activity and habitat use, and show temporal fidelity to specific sites. These activity patterns vary geographically among populations with earlier activity peaks in the south, and longer hibernation and shorter nesting seasons in the north. Protection of endangered species requires description of critical habitats, and this generalist-and-specialist dichotomy in Spotted Turtles presents an obvious challenge for creating and implementing conservation plans that focus on habitat protection. The data suggest that each population must be treated separately in assessments of critical habitat and seasonal activity, which in turn can present financial and logistical obstacles for management agencies. These obstacles must be overcome because, clearly, both site-specific and range-wide ecological data are essential for recovery strategies that aim to maintain the global population of Spotted Turtles.
Why does my shoreline keep changing?: Stories from the Lake Huron Coast
Patrick Donnelly, Coastal Science and Stewardship Advisor
Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
Further to Dr. Gronewold's keynote address, Lake Huron water levels have historically ranged 2 metres vertically in the 100 years since water level records have been kept. The term, 'shoreline management' only recently became popular to inform decision-making after 1986 when Lake Huron reached the peak level. What have we learned 32 years later? Join the co-founder of the Coastal Centre as he 'peels back the curtain' to help explain: 1) how the coast 'works', 2) how we sometimes interfere with those coastal processes and 3) how best to become a bona fide, Lake Huron steward.
CONCURRENT SESSIONS 5 - 1:30 PM
The Great Lakes Coastal Conservation Working Group: Setting shared goals, strategies and tracking collective progress for more effective coastal wetland restoration
Bradly Potter, Science Applications Coordinator
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Dr. Tawny Mata, Director of Strategic Engagement
The Great Lakes were once lined by over 1 million acres of coastal wetlands. Unfortunately, in the past we didn't understand the value of these habitats, which led to the destruction of over two thirds of these critical habitats. Fortunately, our understanding has increased, so too has the collective interest in protecting and restoring coastal wetlands throughout the Great Lakes. However, this problem spans 4,500 miles of shoreline and the responsibility of protecting and restoring coastal wetlands is spread across dozens of federal, state and provincial agencies and local programs spanning 8 states and 2 provinces. This presents a real collaboration challenge and a recipe for waste and inefficiency. The Great Lakes Coastal Conservation Working Group (CCWG) recognized the importance of addressing this collaboration challenge and approached the Blue Accounting team to help them address this challenge. The Working Group is a diverse stakeholder group currently focused on conservation of coastal wetlands across the Huron-Erie Corridor from Saginaw Bay to Western Lake Erie, but with a desire to expand basinwide. We are developing strategies for enhancing and incentivizing coastal wetland conservation across this region, identifying and filling critical data and knowledge gaps, and developing tools to support strategic decision-making. The Blue Accounting Team is working with the CCWG to help implement an information strategy through the BA.org website to help enhance the communication and coordination among work group members and other key stakeholders to help improve efficiency and reduce waste. The Website allows resource managers to share knowledge such as wetland restoration techniques, find tools that can help them assess and prioritize wetland restoration options, and track the collective investments and progress toward protection and restoration goals. This collaborative approach ensures that the next dollar is spent where it is having the most impact for Great Lakes communities and ecosystems.
Farmers taking action: Initiatives to reduce phosphorus migration from farmland into the Great Lakes
Mark Reusser, Vice President
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
In 2015 the city of Toledo, Ohio was forced to close its municipal water intakes in Lake Erie because of potential harmful concentrations of microcystin, a toxin produced by Cladophora (blue green algae). Cladophora proliferates in water that has a high concentration of phosphorus. The crisis in Toledo helped motivate Canada and the United States to sign the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) which set a target of a 40% reduction in phosphorus loading entering Lake Erie. Ontario worked together with the federal government to come up with a “Domestic Action Plan” to fulfill our obligations under the binational agreement. These 120 actions will address algal blooms and improve the health of Lake Erie. While the focus of these actions will be on the Thames River Basin, rivers such as the Ausable, Maitland, Bayfield, Pine and the Saugeen are also contributors via Lake Huron and the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers. Farmers in Ontario have acknowledged that Phosphorus losses from crop land originating from both commercial fertilizer and manure are contributors to loading in the Great Lakes. The Federal and Provincial governments, private enterprise, non profit organizations, municipalities, conservation authorities and farmers themselves have or are in the process of developing programs to improve water quality and reduce phosphorus losses. We as farmers believe that targeted voluntary and incentivized programs have the potential to significantly improve water quality in the Great Lakes.
CONCURRENT SESSIONS 6 - 3:00 PM
The Coastal Action Plan and YOU – Our Future, Today
Hannah Cann, Coastal Stewardship Coordinator
Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
The southeastern coast of Lake Huron is home to thousands of permanent and seasonal residents. Millions of visitors each year interact with the lake through fishing, swimming, boating and other recreational activities. Our coastal communities recognize Lake Huron as being key to their economic development. Sand beaches, dunes, bluffs, river mouths, nearshore waters, wetlands, and woodlands are all coastal ecosystems that provide valuable ecosystem services, and support many rare species. The new Coastal Action Plan for the Southeastern Shoreline of Lake Huron will create a unified vision for Lake Huron coastal conservation and stewardship efforts for the shoreline between Sarnia and Tobermory. This plan will enable a coordinated approach to address common issues and goals of communities along the Lake Huron shoreline. The plan will develop a list of environmental management strategies by identifying valuable natural features and species, and the threats and stressors that negatively impact them. Join Hannah for a session that will delineate our biggest threats to coastal health and long-term sustainability along Lake Huron’s southeastern shoreline, and learn what the Coastal Centre is doing to mediate negative effects to ensure healthy coastal environments for future generations.
Friend or foe?: Can the Drainage Act be used to help protect shorelines from erosion?
Stewardship Project Lead
Maitland Valley Conservation Authority
Municipal Drains have been a fixture in rural Ontario since the 1800’s. Originally designed to improve the drainage of agricultural lands, Municipal Drains have become a useful tool to engage landowners in community projects. It also provides an opportunity to protect and enhance stewardship projects across the landscape. The Maitland Valley Conservation Authority has been exploring various uses of the Drainage Act, including water quality improvements and erosion control.