What’s Next for Lake Erie?
For years, we’ve worked to ensure that the provincial, state and federal governments of Canada and the United States produced strong, science-based, well-funded plans to protect Lake Erie. Now that those plans have been finalized and released – what’s next?
For Freshwater Future Canada, we turn our focus to implementing those plans – to engaging with the work on the ground to reduce nutrient runoff into the lake. We will continue our work to support land trusts and conservation groups who are protecting wetlands in the Lake Erie basin – habitats that are critical to slowing and reducing the flow of nutrients into the lake.
Government-led plans are critical to provide the framework for achieving nutrient reduction targets which will, in turn, reduce the frequency and severity of algal blooms on Lake Erie, and improve water quality in the lake. And although we know there is still a need for improvement in those plans, it’s time to focus on implementation
The Canada-Ontario Action Plan for Lake Erie outlines a laundry list of actions necessary to achieve the targets. Improving the policy framework, growing research, modeling, and monitoring programs, building awareness, and improving collaboration are all key pillars of the plan. And perhaps most importantly is reducing phosphorus, through on-the-ground actions such as the protection of wetlands.
We know that wetlands are a critical component to reducing nutrient runoff to Lake Erie – they filter and retain phosphorus and other contaminants, reducing the amount flowing into the lake.
But in a landscape dominated by agriculture, wetlands are too few and far between. Many conservation groups are working hard to protect the remaining wetlands in the region, and on creating new wetlands in strategic locations. In particular, land trusts have a key role to play in protecting wetlands; they can permanently protect them by acquiring them, or they can hold conservation easements.
Freshwater Future Canada has always supported community groups working to protect their local land and waters, and that’s exactly what we’ll continue to do in Lake Erie. We’ll ensure that land trusts and other conservation groups have the capacity, resources, and connections they need to strategically protect wetlands in the Lake Erie basin. Restoring Lake Erie to health will take the time, energy and dedication of many – and Freshwater Future will be there every step of the way.
- Written by April Weppler, Freshwater Future Canada