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Bow Watch: Fresh Water Defines Our Program

Carl Richards - headshot

A recent meeting of Sea Grant representatives from around the country renewed my appreciation for the way we and the other Great Lakes Sea Grant programs significantly contribute to maintaining coastal resources. Our marine brethren, from their positions around the salty coastlines of the United States, host an impressive array of programs focused on coastal resources. Working from the heartland of this country, we likewise develop and deliver science and education with impressive gusto. Our niche is different, however; we specialize in one of North America’s greatest assets – abundant fresh water.

The abundance rests in the Great Lakes themselves, which collectively equal 20 percent of the fresh surface water on Earth. We, as partners in the stewardship of those jewels, have embarked on a series of research and outreach programs that will help in their long-term management. The goal of these programs could be distilled down to three words: raise freshwater cognizance.

This issue of the Seiche reflects our double-edged approach to freshwater cognizance. For instance, the results of a Minnesota Sea Grant investigation into fish pheromones could contribute to controlling ruffe in the Great Lakes and apply to related but more desirable species, like walleye. We're sharing these results with researchers, professionals, and the public.

There are many stories yet to be told about the biological and physical systems of the Great Lakes and even not-so-big lakes. Minnesota Sea Grant recently awarded over $1.4 million to advance science relevant to Lake Superior. Minnesota scientists will use this money to discover new information about fresh water and provide the insights we need to conserve and use our coastal resources responsibly.

Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes are more than national treasures; they're global ones. Sea Grant is a significant source of funding for university research concerning the Great Lakes. Universities in Minnesota and others around the Great Lakes have a tremendous talent pool. This talent is rarely wasted (I know how busy my colleagues and I are kept) but I believe it is underutilized when applying technological, social, and economic skills to understand and manage freshwater.

Like other Sea Grant programs, we invest substantial time, energy, and resources into extension education. Sea Grant funds research then converts scientific principles and discoveries into accessible information. We then help apply it to coastal resources. Many of the Great Lakes' problems originate in accordance with how land is used. Consequently, we emphasize intelligent land use planning and sustainable shoreland practices as part of our outreach.

Thanks for joining Sea Grant's ongoing efforts to raise freshwater cognizance.

Carl Richards' signature
Carl Richards
Minnesota Sea Grant Director


By Carl Richards
December 2004

Return to December 2004 Seiche



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