TRAVERSE CITY-- Local experts, government officials and nonprofit employees will gather in Traverse City on Nov. 1 to discuss the great issues facing the Great Lakes and other freshwater bodies.
The sixth annual Freshwater Summit will give attendees a chance to exchange information about freshwater issues and research, ranging from the Great Lakes to inland lakes and freshwater streams.
“High-quality fresh water is a huge part of our economy in northwest Michigan. The clean, clear water that we have really drives our economy, our tourism, our work,” said Mark Breederland, director of the Michigan Sea Grant Extension Northwest region who is helping to organize the summit. “Having a healthy great lakes -- this is the world’s freshwater treasure and we want to good job of stewarding and protecting through time.”
The summit, named "Our Water, Our Future", aims to help people interested in lake health learn more about it.
“It’s really a report to the public on what the latest science is concerning Grand Traverse Bay,” said Tom Kelly, executive director of the Inland Seas Association who is helping organize the program.
Jim Bredin, associate director and deputy director for Asian carp for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, will be a keynote speaker at the event.
Asian carp are an invasive species that have been blamed for destroying waterways’ natural ecosystems. There’s currently no evidence the fish have made their way into Lake Michigan, and the federal government is investing in ways to keep carp out of the Great Lakes, including an electric barrier between lakes and Mississippi River tributaries.
“That’s a pretty big deal to have (Bredin) coming here. It puts us on the map a little bit, I think,” said Kelly.
Lake levels, the summit's other primary theme, are especially salient after lake levels hit record lows this year.
Kelly also anticipates a new Michigan State University hydrology program that’s been collecting data measuring the impact of climate change on Grand Traverse Bay. This is the first time people in the program have enough data to discuss it.
Other attractions are less intellectual. Breederland is bringing a replica of the record-breaking 58-pound muskellunge caught last year on Lake Bellaire in Antrim County. He also expects a live lamprey at the summit.
The summit will take place at the Hagerty Center on Nov.1 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.