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St. Louis River Watershed Workshop Project Awarded Funding

Photo of St. Louis River by Chris J. Benson

Ecosystem services can be a confusing concept. This way of looking at the environment, which focuses on how humans benefit from a healthy ecosystem, is an approach supported by Sea Grant, the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), and their parent organization, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The ecosystem services framework is also being implemented widely throughout other federal science and resource management communities, and they are looking for opportunities to inform others.

To that end, David Hart, assistant director for Extension with Wisconsin Sea Grant, and three co-investigators with partner organizations successfully submitted a proposal to NOAA to conduct a pilot workshop about ecosystem services in the St. Louis River watershed and western Lake Superior region, spanning the border of northwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Minnesota.

NOAA awarded the year-long project $19,600, which will go toward a workshop in spring of 2016 that will orient people to the ecosystem services approach, allow for review of already completed ecosystems services work in the St. Louis River watershed, and development of a map of ecosystems services data needs and opportunities for the region. This information will be useful for area coastal decision-makers, researchers and managers.

"There's growing interest around the Twin Ports to tackle this challenge," said Erika Washburn, project co-investigator and director of the Lake Superior NERR. "This project takes advantage of this momentum to develop and carry out a workshop for community members. The map we develop will provide information for more effective and targeted research strategies and will support improved management decisions."

Other project co-investigators are Gail Epping Overholt with the NERR and Jesse Schomberg with Minnesota Sea Grant. Partner organizations include the Fond du lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute, the Minnesota and Wisconsin Coastal Management Programs, the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Posted on October 15, 2015


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