By: Susan A Smith
Gov. Mark Schweiker and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary David E. Hess on May 28 announced a $54,000 Great Lakes Protection Fund grant to the Bayfront Center for Maritime Studies (BCMS), located in Erie, PA.”This is a rewarding way to celebrate Watershed Awareness Month,” Secretary Hess said.”The Great Lakes Protection Fund is an important source of money for local people who care about the future of the Great Lakes and the watersheds that support them. We are pleased to present this grant to the Bayfront Center for Maritime Studies (BCMS) because it stimulates student interest in the environment and creates a deeper understanding of the Lake Erie ecosystem. ”
BCMS Executive Director James Stewart said, “BCMS has already reached thousands of youngsters in Northwestern Pennsylvania. This grant will allow us to reach even more kids. We believe that children develop a life-long interest in nature when they have an opportunity to explore it in a way that is meaningful to them. BCMS captures the imagination of young people by exposing them to sailing and then follows up with environmental education through water and sediment sampling and testing. ”
In partnership with DEP and the Pennsylvania Sea Grant, BCMS developed the Environmental Rediscoveries program. The program uses the 42-foot Friendship Sloop “Momentum” to teach youngsters how to sail, chart a course, navigate to their sampling site using a global positioning system, collect sediment samples using a ponar dredge, and monitor the water quality using a Hydrolab. The students then perform microscopic analysis of the samples, and all data is compiled and shared on-line with schools and the DEP.
The Bayfront Center for Maritime Studies was a 2001 winner of a Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence in the education and outreach category. The center was honored for its environmental rediscoveries program that provides hands-on sailing activities and ecosystem studies on Lake Erie’s Presque Isle Bay.
Governors of the Great Lakes States created the Great Lakes Protection Fund in 1989 as the nation’s first multi-state environmental endowment. Since its inception, the fund has awarded 145 grants worth more than $21. 6 million for projects throughout the Great Lakes regions.