The Lake Superior Reserve is hosting their annual St. Louis River Summit on the UW-Superior campus. The two-day summit will include 80 presentations about different topics, including river research.
Erika Washburn, the Lake Superior Reserve manager, said the summit will feature 38 speakers. Washburn said the summit is important for sharing information about the research being done on the environmental, social and economic impacts of the St. Louis River.
“The way that we have designed the summit is that there are significant opportunities and breaks in there for people to meet each other, talk about ideas, (and) to do research or work together,” she said. “Over the years a lot of really successful collaboration sort of jump-started by folks attending the summit.”
Washburn said one challenge researchers are currently facing is funding. She said a lot of work on the St. Louis River, Lake Superior and surrounding waters is federally funded. Washburn said there’s a lot of uncertainty about how much money Congress will put toward restoration work. The Trump administration wants to cut funding for the Obama-era Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 90 percent.
“Right now all these programs are in the middle of budget planning. With the uncertainty in where the budget is going to land, that makes planning extremely difficult,” she said. “I will say, on the individual and personal side, it makes it hard. It makes it kind of stressful. It makes it difficult to plan months and years out for things like adding new staff positions or investing in new infrastructure for scientific monitoring out in the estuary.”
Washburn said the summit gives people an idea of what research their tax dollars are funding. She said it’s also a chance for people to see work that’s being done to monitor and restore the health of the estuary, environment, lake, and watershed.
The key note speaker of this year’s summit is Wallace Nichols, an international biologist and author of the book "Blue Mind."
The two-day summit will take place March 13-14 in the Great Room of the Yellow Jacket Union at UWS from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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