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Great Lakes Protection

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Big Daddy, Jan 1, 2008.

  1. I was asked to post this important information on pending Great Lakes legislation, and I feel it's something that we, as outdoorsfolks should be aware of. It comes from Rick Graham of the Izaak Walton League of America.

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    Defense of Great Lakes Depends on Action by Sportsmen

    Many issues face the Great Lakes, but two are critical to defending the Great Lakes. Aquatic invasive species are foremost on the list of all the issues. The other issue confronting the Great Lakes involves the threat of areas beyond the Great Lakes Basin trying to tap the Great Lakes for their water source, which can best be controlled through the Great Lakes Compact.

    The introduction foreign aquatic invaders have threatened to overwhelm the ecosystems of the Great Lakes. The impact of the zebra Mussel and Quagga Mussel are very obvious to anyone who visits any of the Great Lakes, but especially Lake Erie where nearly every submerged surface is covered with them. The Round Nose Goby, Tube Nose Goby, Orange Ruffe, Water Flea, and Phragmites are ever present in many areas Great Lakes. The count on the invasive species in the Great Lakes stood at 180 early in 2007, but as of December 2007 another 13 species have been added to the list.

    The cost to handle the marginal control of the Quagga and Zebra Mussels exceeds 5 Billion dollars a year. This is only a small part of the cost as these mollusks filter out much of the zoo and phytoplankton that is the base of the food chain that supports the Great Lakes ecosystem. This ecosystem that enables Lake Erie’s to produce more edible fish greater than all the other Great Lakes Combined.

    The primary source of the problem has been identified as untreated ballast water from foreign freighters, but the problem goes further than this. Any watercraft that is used where aquatic invasive species are present has the potential to carry the invaders to other waterways unless the vessel is properly cleaned.

    Sportsmen must take the lead in protecting the Great Lakes and other waters of our nation. For battle on aquatic invasive species to be won in Ohio and our nation we must realize that all of the waters of our nation are at risk from these invaders. We must not take the issue lightly. We must get national ballast water legislation passed. In the interim we must pass the legislation within the individual states to get the introduction of these invaders under control. We must also stop the spread of these invaders within the waters of North America. To do this we must undertake the responsibility to clean our boats and other recreational watercraft properly recommendations can be accessed at: http://www.iwla.org/index.php?id=463 as recommended by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Coast Guard. You can also take the Izaak Walton League of Americas Clean Boat Challenge at: http://scripts.newfangled.com/iwla , which can make you eligible to win a $2500.00 shopping spree at Bass Pro Shops or other gift card prizes.

    The Great Lakes Compact is critical legislation to protect the Great Lakes and especially Ohio’s interests. It took five years of negotiations developed a document that has been crafted to protect and conserve the Great Lakes. Once passed by all eight states and approved by Congress it will become legally binding. The compact will establish a regulatory body and a basic set of guidelines along with a strong comprehensive water management plan to conserve the water resources within the basin as well as provide specific rules for diversions. It will further provide a basis for an international document between the United States, the eight Great Lakes States, Canada and the Canadian Provinces. Canada, Quebec and Ontario have all ready codified all water diversions from their waters. Minnesota and Illinois have passed the legislation so far. Things are legislatively moving along in Indiana, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania with things hopefully being passed either late in 2007 or early in 2008. As of this time, legislation has not been introduced yet in Ohio or Wisconsin. There is some action within the stakeholder groups, but legislation must be started now.

    Ohio has some special issues that were addressed in this document to protect its interests. With communities such as Akron and Bucyrus which straddle the Lake Erie Watershed, it was important to allow some concessions to allow for their future potential needs. It was also necessary to allow for the bottling of water. Some state wanted to ban all diversions, but compromises were reached. The document needs to be passed as it currently stands to avoid other states from further trying to ban all diversions or make additional changes that will compromise Ohio’s needs for the future.

    Illinois and Minnesota have passed the compact and New York is in the process of working out the details between Senate and House versions. We need to get this issue on the front burner for Ohio’s Legislators. You must contact your Ohio Legislators to get them focused to pass this legislation.


    Rick Graham
    Vice President Izaak Walton League of America, Ohio Division
    IWLA – National Great Lakes Committee
    Healing Our Waters Coalition Member