Connecting the Great Lakes Coastal Future

This week dozens of participants came from all over the Great Lakes – Minnesota to Pennsylvania – to gain the tools necessary to protect Great Lakes coastal habitat in a changing climate.

Participants learn web-based tools. Photo by Melinda Koslow.

The Great Lakes, often referred to as our nation’s third coast, has as much coastal shoreline as the Atlantic coast of the United States. The diversity of wildlife habitat is unlike anywhere else in the world.

Why is this workshop important?

The Great Lakes region is currently experiencing climate change impacts like warmer air and water temperatures, decline of lake ice, and increased heavy events of snow and rain. More of these impacts, along with some unexpected surprises, await us in the future. Actions to integrate these impacts and potential surprises into conservation efforts today and into the future will greatly enhance wildlife survival.

Participants discuss many topics like invasive species management. Photo by Melinda Koslow

Who attended the workshop?

Professionals who work in conservation and restoration of wildlife habitat in the Great Lakes. They represent states, tribal nations, governmental and non-governmental organizations.

What did they learn?

Participants learned strategies and tools for applying climate change impacts to actions that control invasive species, restore toxic hot-spots, expand habitat for fish and birds and manage agricultural watersheds. They also had “hands-on” training on web-based tools such as Climate Wizard, CAKE, and NOAA’s CanVis.

What does coastal habitat conservation look like in the “real world?”

Participants at Erie Marsh Coastal Wetland Restoration site. Photo by Melinda Koslow.

Participants visited two Great Lakes Restoration Initiative-funded sites on Lake Erie to see what coastal habitat conservation in a changing climate looks like.

These sites represent one of the largest marshes on Lake Erie and rare and unique lakeland prairie.

Erie marsh is on the western edge of Lake Erie. Photo by Melinda Koslow.

Restoring these sites will enhance habitat for waterfowl, raptors, turtles, beaver, shorebirds and songbirds, fish to name a few – plus will enhance the habitat of Lake Erie itself.

Restoration professionals at the site explained their plans for dealing with climate change impacts such as lake level decline and warmer air temperatures and also discussed how this restoration will protect people from climate change impacts by acting as a buffer from large rain storms and as a filter for better water quality.

Participants also had a chance to provide input into the upcoming National Climate Assessment. You can too as this assessment is intended to provide the latest climate change information for all of us!

To learn more about ecological restoration in a changing climate, see National Wildlife Federation’s guide Restoring the Great Lakes Coastal Future.

This workshop is part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) series of workshops focused on strategies and tools for coastal habitat conservation, restoration, and management, in a changing climate. Support for this workshop was provided by the NOAA Climate Program Office, Office of Habitat Conservation, and Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Team.

To learn more about this workshop please visit the Joint Office for Science Support.