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Watching the Bow

Jeff Gunderson

Jeff Gunderson

Many of the Minnesota Sea Grant crew keep an eye on the horizon but each of us has a slightly different vantage point. As director, my perspective has been influenced by how our program would be affected by the 2014 federal budget.

I'm happy to report the high seas of ambiguity have given way to some calm. Congress passed a 2014 budget that supports the National Sea Grant Network with $67.3 million. This is nearly a $9 million increase from the post-sequester 2013 federal budget. Part of the funding will go to a $4.5 million investment in marine aquaculture and $1 million for a competition meant to inspire innovative solutions for coastal challenges. Congress also clarified and reiterated their support of the Sea Grant fellowship programs.

What this means for Minnesota Sea Grant:

  1. We can fund five new research projects beginning in June.
  2. We can support at least six graduate students.
  3. We can continue the Partners-in-Education Program to bring Great Lakes Aquarium lessons to elementary school students through UMD's education department.
  4. We can maintain our staff of 18 (about 13.5 full-time equivalents).
  5. We can continue offering outreach and education opportunities for a variety of audiences.
  6. We can scout Minnesota's pool of graduate students for potential Sea Grant fellows.
  7. We can plan our course for the year with more certainty and pursue opportunities to bring in additional federal dollars.

If you don't see them in the news or on social media first, you'll read about our newest research projects in the next issue of the Seiche. For now, I simply want to introduce their topics. We'll be exploring social science questions about the region's changing recreation and tourism industries as well as community resiliency in the wake of extreme storms. Our researchers will also be examining the fates of sulfate and sulfide in wild rice beds and the way these compounds affect wild rice production. Our research will scrutinize the history of the St. Louis River's water quality as witnessed through diatoms and other indicators to inform management. We are also continuing our quest to understand the sources of fecal bacteria in Lake Superior so as to better address public health concerns.

Another thing I can see from here is that next October will have our staff hopping. We've committed to supporting the American Planning Association, Minnesota Chapter Conference (Duluth, Oct. 1-3), the Minnesota Water Resources Conference (Twin Cities, third week of October), and the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference (Duluth, Oct. 20-22). If ideas about capitalizing on the momentum of the Lake Superior Fish Classic also come to fruition, we hope to see a lot of you eating cisco with us in Duluth next November.

Between then and now, we have work to do on a green infrastructure collaboration, climate change and coastal storms outreach, the Stop Aquatic HitchhikersTM and HabitattitudeTM campaigns, beach safety projects, community stormwater management, maritime transportation issues and much, much more.

By Jeff Gunderson
February 2014

Return to February 2014 Seiche

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