Duluth conference to draw Lake Superior experts
What's going on with Lake Superior? It's a big question with a lot of answers, but scientists, natural resources managers, teachers, artists, anglers and the public will give it a try this month during a four-day conference at the Duluth Entertai...
What's going on with Lake Superior?
It's a big question with a lot of answers, but scientists, natural resources managers, teachers, artists, anglers and the public will give it a try this month during a four-day conference at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
Experts on Lake Superior's ecology, biology and sociology from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario and other regions will gather for the event set for Oct. 28-31.
The conference is aimed at sharing information -- including the results of scientific studies -- as well as sharing what's currently under investigation and what remains unanswered.
Almost 300 experts from state, federal and tribal resource agencies, as well as municipal conservation officials, university and lab researchers and teachers from across the region are enrolled for the conference.
It's hoped that new networks will sprout among various groups across the Lake Superior region who otherwise might not share ideas or information, the event's planners said.
But the event isn't just about research. It's also about taking action to stop problems plaguing the big lake -- including a warming climate and water temperatures, declining water levels, loss of habitat along shorelines, erosion near development, and urban runoff and continued pollution from the sky and in harbors.
The concept came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes office in Chicago.
"Lake Michigan has had biennial state-of-the-lakes conferences since 1999; Lake Erie, too. And Lake Huron has them. But we've never done one like this for Lake Superior,'' said Liz LaPlante, who heads the Lake Superior efforts of the EPA.
"There are some common problems across all the lakes, like water levels and climate change and invasive species. But a lot of the problems, and the solutions, are local. We need to make our efforts as local as we can,'' she said.
The conference is a chance for researchers to hear what issues are most important from people who live on and manage the lake.
Jesse Schomberg, Minnesota Sea Grant coastal communities and land-use educator, said the Duluth event will be less scientific than past events.
"It's not going to be a stuffy, research kind of conference. It's mostly for folks who are extremely interested in Lake Superior, but there are events that pretty much everyone might be interested in,'' Schomberg said.
That includes a presentation by renowned Northland nature photographer Craig Blacklock and a Lake Superior art exhibit that includes work from artists across the region. There also are events for children, scholarships for teachers and students to attend and various field trips.
"We have a lot of conferences that focus on issues,'' Schomberg said. "This one is going to focus on the lake.''