A nearly 17,000-acre area encompassing freshwater marshes, uplands and river on the shores of Lake Superior in Wisconsin became the 28th member of NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System today. Federal, state and local officials officially welcomed the site into the system at a ceremony in Superior, Wis.
“As the first reserve in the upper Great Lakes, the Lake Superior Reserve adds significant value to the National Estuarine Research Reserve System and broadens the opportunities to study, understand and manage America’s coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems,” said Larry Robinson, Ph.D., assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management, who represented NOAA at the ceremony.
Official designation of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve culminated a six-year process that began with site selection and continued with development of an environmental impact statement and a comprehensive reserve management plan. This multiyear process was done in partnership with scientists, agency land managers, public officials and citizens representing local, regional and tribal interests.
Research conducted at the reserve will focus on improving the health of local freshwater estuaries and can assist other Great Lakes communities in addressing similar challenges. The reserve’s educational programs also will allow individuals to experience freshwater estuaries and their unique resources, making it a community asset and a destination for students and visitors. The reserve will attract scientists and students from across the nation, including up to two national graduate research fellows funded annually by NOAA.
The Lake Superior site was proposed by Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle in May 2008 after a two-year site selection process. The reserve will be managed by the University of Wisconsin Extension. It is the second to be established in the Great Lakes and the first in the upper Great Lakes. Old Woman Creek Reserve was established in 1980 on the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio.
The University of Wisconsin-Extension has been working closely with the University of Wisconsin-Superior on establishing and developing the Lake Superior Reserve. These two entities will work in partnership to provide long-term facilities, staffing, and programming for the reserve.
“The upper Great Lakes region has a number of features that will help in understanding the unique nature of freshwater estuaries,” said Patrick Robinson, Lake Superior Reserve Acting Manager. “The research and monitoring programs here will help us understand the potential impacts of climate change on these important ecosystems and will provide critical, scientifically sound information to help communities and coastal managers deal with those impacts.”
“The Wisconsin reserve will fill a significant gap in the Great Lakes biogeographic region and enhance our ability to conserve, study and manage these important freshwater estuary resources,” said Laurie McGilvray, chief of NOAA’s Estuarine Reserves Division. “It offers local communities an incredible resource to help them monitor their estuary, provide educational programs and advance the state of knowledge around this important natural resource.”
NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System comprises 28 estuarine locations in 22 states and Puerto Rico that are protected for research, education, outreach and stewardship. Estuarine research reserves are managed by state agencies or universities in partnership with NOAA, which provides funding and national program guidance and support.
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On the Web:
Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve System: http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov/Reserve.aspx?ResID=LKS
NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve System Program: http://www.nerrs.noaa.gov