By Geoff Peach, Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
Assuming the role of Lake Huron Advisor for the Ontario side of the lake, it seemed appropriate to introduce myself, and my organization. While I have been involved in coastal conservation work along Lake Huron for the past twenty years or so, my roots along Lake Huron go back over twice that long, having a family cottage at Point Clark. My formative years were spent taking in the splendor, and temperament of our lake. I began working professionally about the time that Lake Huron was experiencing its highest water levels on record. Working for local conservation authorities, my involvement and interest in working at the grassroots level was established. It was clear though, that existing organizations in the region had environmental priorities that did not include Lake Huron, or if they did, it was localized to a segment of the coast. To my friend and colleague, Patrick Donnelly, and I, this was an impediment to the effective conservation and environmental protection of Lake Huron, but also an opportunity to fill a void. In 1998, we co-founded the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation.
The “Coastal Centre” is a small grassroots, non-governmental organization dedicated to the conservation and wise stewardship of Lake Huron’s coastal ecosystems. The Centre was registered as a charity in Ontario in 1998. The organization has been governed since its inception by a dedicated, and talented, volunteer Board of Directors, aided by an expert Board of Technical Advisors, and supported by a professional staff.
Its mission is to “provide leadership and expertise, in collaboration with partners, to achieve a healthy Lake Huron coastal ecosystem.”While much of our work has focused on the southern coast of Lake Huron, between Sarnia and Tobermory, we have extended in recent years to include Manitoulin Island and southern Georgian Bay.
The Centre’s environmental priorities are focused in four areas:
These priorities were established through a citizen consultation process when we developed our Strategic Plan. Our primary approach to addressing these priorities was through communication and networking, research, education and outreach. We work most frequently with local grassroots organizations and municipalities with locally specific issues that require practical solutions.We also work at a regional level, which requires a broad lake-wide perspective. Our involvement in several provincial and national committees, which include discussions on the state of Lake Huron’s nearshore waters, Species at Risk, dune conservation and climate change, helps to bring local priorities to the table, and conversely, bring a more global perspective to local initiatives.
To give you an idea of the type of work we’ve been involved with in the recent past, we have:
Our conservation work was recognized at the 2004 State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) where we were honoured with the SOLEC “Success Story” award for exceptional performance and dedication to improving the Great Lakes.
In coming articles I look forward to highlighting some of the great work that many other grassroots organizations have been doing on the Ontario side of Lake Huron.