Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Strategies For Conserving Lake Huron Biodiversity

Nov 29: A new report and strategic plan compiled by conservation experts in the United States and Canada and released by The Nature Conservancy indicates that the health of Lake Huron's biological diversity is in "fair" condition, but the long-term outlook could be a different story. The report, The Sweetwater Sea: Strategies for Conserving Lake Huron Biodiversity, assesses the current health of the lake's biological diversity and examines what current trends could mean for the future of the lake. According to the report, habitat degradation and loss to incompatible development present major stressors that may impact the lake's long-term health for people and nature.

    Dr. Patrick Doran, The Nature Conservancy's director of science for Michigan and the Great Lakes said, "Lake Huron is really on the brink of recovery or further degradation, depending on how you look at it and what actions may transpire in the next 10 to 20 years. This report stresses that now is the time to take action before it's too late." According to the report, the most critical threats to Lake Huron's biodiversity are: invasive species, incompatible development, climate change, dams and other barriers to water flow, and pollution from industrial and other sources. The experts ranked the scope and severity of the threats and matched strategies for abating those threats to priority areas.

    The top five areas of high concern, based on their concentration of biodiversity coupled with threats, are: northeast Michigan, Saginaw Bay, eastern Georgian Bay, southern Georgian Bay and the southeast shores of Lake Huron. The Lake Huron planning process followed a similar model that resulted in a strategic plan for Lake Ontario in 2009. That report then led to the prioritized action of public agencies and private organizations working to strengthen the health of Lake Ontario. The Nature Conservancy and partners will next develop biodiversity plans for Lake Erie and Lake Michigan through The Nature Conservancy's Great Lakes Project.

    Access a lengthy release from The Nature Conservancy (click here). Access a full copy of the report and an abridged, reader-friendly version (click here).