Lake Erie Foundation held its Annual Meeting via Zoom on April 14th. Lake Erie Foundation Board President Jim Stouffer welcomed guests and thanked them for their continued support of the foundation.
A recap of Lake Erie Foundation’s initiatives discussed at the meeting is below:
LEF Board Member John Lipaj update on Icebreaker Project:
Lake Erie Foundation advocates for a full Environmental Impact Study regarding Icebreaker, the wind turbine project on Lake Erie.
A marketing campaign was initiated to education and create awareness for resident of Northeast Ohio about Icebreaker. Print ads were run in Crain’s Cleveland Business, an informational video was created, a PowerPoint which is being used to educate elected officials and an extensive social media campaign which has helped educate the public about the potential impact that this project could have on Lake Erie.
In September of 2020 Lake Erie Foundation filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Federal Courts against the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Our Amicus brief supports a lawsuit filed by American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Black Swamp Bird Observatory against those federal agencies in 2019. This lawsuit has been accepted by the Federal Court in the District of Columbia and continues to move its way through the judicial system. We are hopeful that at the very minimum an Environmental Impact Study will be required before this project goes forward.
LEF recently finished a semester long project with 4 Case Western Reserve University seniors who participated in a Capstone project as part of their graduation requirement.
The project involved researching microplastics in Lake Erie and what we can do to educate people on limiting the use of single use plastics.
The team of students also created the content for our plastics website page and marketing collateral which is currently being used at events that Lake Erie Foundation has a presence.
LEF is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Case Western Reserve University and the project team; we are impressed by the effort and thoroughness of their research and deliverables. Relationships are everything and we look forward to partnering with Case Western Reserve University again in the near future.
The dangers of microplastics and the need for solutions to this problem will continue to be a focus area for LEF as we move through 2021. We’ll also continue our focus on advocating for the measures needed in order for us to be free from the threat of harmful algal blooms.
LEF Vice President Matt Fisher update on H2Ohio
Lake Erie Foundation supports H2Ohio and respects the resources that Governor DeWine has continued to devote to improving Ohio’s waterways. LEF believes there can be profitable farming and clean water
- Ohio EPA and ODNR have made good progress through COVID times. ODNR has impressive projects regarding wetlands work in Seneca Park and Sandusky River
- The agriculture section of H2Ohio has had an impressive number of farms sign up – just over 40% of all fields — but no practices were implemented in 2020 due to COVID.
- H2Ohio has the correct agriculture management practices to reduce phosphorus run off.
Lake Erie Foundation supports Ohio House Bill 7 which has 2 key parts that need to be implemented.
- Appoint a Watershed Coordinator that will work with each county’s Soil and Water manager to identify and create a plan for the most impaired fields in each county.
- Also, the bill encourages the funding for a Pilot Program where a sub-watershed – about 5000 acres that would represent NW Ohio farms — would receive focus and resources to increase the percent of farmers who utilize phosphorus reducing practices from an estimate of 25% now to 75% within a year. Water quality would be measured to track performance.
- With a pilot program we will learn which practices are most effective and their impact on water quality.
- We would also learn how much the cost to implement effective programs throughout Ohio.
- This actually is not a “Lake Erie Foundation pilot” program but we have been working with legislators to ensure sure this is appropriately funded.
House Bill 7 does give quite a bit of authority to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Lake Erie Foundation respects the leadership, diligence and persistence of Director Dorothy Pelanda.
A project that has been initiated and is intertwined with all of these programs striving for improvement is the creation of TMDLs. Lake Erie Foundation is 100% for creation and implementation of TMDLs. TMDL stands for Total Maximum Daily Load (of Phosphorus). It is a measurement to determine the amount of nutrients are in waterways. TMDLs are measurements at certain points in the tributaries and river server as goals of phosphorus load.
TMDLs would require agriculture to make significant changes in key fields that are causing the current pollution into Lake Erie.
There are a lot of programs in place to improve Lake Erie and we have focused on 2 of them. H2Ohio combined with House Bill 7 provides the resources to make these changes and help farmers reduce run off. We want to help ODA direct resources to the correct fields and the pilot program.
A bad algae bloom takes a formula of several heavy rainfalls after crops are planted in April, followed by several high heat days in June or July. Whether it is this summer – 2021 – or in the future, it is a matter of time until we experience another bad bloom. We need to be in a position that we know what practices work, and how much they will cost to extent to all of NW Ohio.
Jim Stouffer thanked all LEF members, donors and Board members for their contributions to our critical mission. Because of your support, we continue to make a noticeable difference in preserving and protecting Lake Erie.
Watch for our newsletters and email updates as we move through the new year, and feel free to reach out to us at info@LakeErieFoundation.org with your questions or input you would like to provide.
Together, we will continue to be Lake Erie’s voice… For Business… For Pleasure… Forever.