The Cleveland Cavaliers weren’t the only thing bringing people to Cleveland in early June. Ohio Sea Grant hosted seven other Great Lakes Sea Grant Programs and the National Sea Grant Program during the 26th Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Meeting. Over 80 scientists, educators, and communicators from all over the Great Lakes came together to provide program updates, share project ideas, and discuss future collaborations.
The conference began with field trips showcasing some of the amazing educational and tourism opportunities in Ohio. Trips included a fishing charter where participants caught walleye (one of the most important sportfish in Lake Erie helping to contribute to a 1 billion dollar industry), a tour of Stone Laboratory (the oldest continually operational freshwater field station) and a bike tour of sustainable business on Cleveland’s famous West 25th Street. Sustainable business practices include:
- Water reduction practices
- Solar panels to heat water
- Pervious parking lots
- Rain gardens
Speakers included Jonathon Pennock, the recently appointed National Sea Grant Director, who discussed the new vision for the National Sea Grant Program and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor who spoke about the great work being done in Ohio and the Great Lakes to improve water quality, foster sustainable development, and continued work to improve the health of the Great Lakes.
Educational field trips on the second day showed participants some of the issues facing Lake Erie and offered on-the-ground solutions to solve problems. A boat tour of the Cuyahoga River led by Scott Hardy, Sea Grant Extension Educator in Cuyahoga County, showcased the work being done by local organizations in Cleveland and Ohio Sea Grant to remove the river from the Area of Concern list. Areas of Concern are highly impaired rivers as a result of industrial use over the past century. Local organizations work together to remove contaminated sediment, improve water quality, and repair fish, bird, and mammal habitats to improve the benefits offered by the river.
A second boat tour led by Sarah Orlando, Ohio Clean Marina Program Manager, took several people to the Emerald Necklace Marina in Rocky River. The Emerald Necklace Marina is one of Ohio’s many Clean Marinas. Cleans Marinas are marinas that have gone through the certification process through Ohio Sea Grant and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to adopt business and property management practices that improve water quality, lessen a marina’s environmental impact, and work with their boaters to educate on safe and clean boating best practices.
Some of these practices include:
- recycling when possible
- using living shorelines instead of hardened shorelines along the water to improve fish habitat
- using cleaning products such as vinegar to clean their boats instead of synthetic chemicals
- educating others about safe and clean boating practices
All in all it was a great few days filled with new project ideas, network visioning, and lots of fun in some of Coastal Ohio’s most beautiful areas.
1 billion dollar industry American Sportfishing Association Report January 2013. http://asafishing.org/uploads/2011_ASASportfishing_in_America_Report_January_2013.pdf
Jill Bartolotta is an Extension Educator for Ohio Sea Grant.