Where are we?
In the fall of 2016, Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation joined the Huronia Community Foundation(HCF), a well-funded, highly respected charity based in Midland, Ontario on the south shore of Georgian Bay. This charity is providing income tax receipts to our donors for contributions through HCF and is also providing, at a very modest cost, accounting services. This is a “best fit” for our work.
What do we stand for?
Our dedicated team of eight experienced, knowledgeable passionate volunteers will continue to work, as it has for many years under other charities, to protect and enhance the environment of Georgian Bay as part of the Great Lakes’ ecology. Our special focus includes threats to water quality; water levels in order to avoid both extremely low and extremely high levels on Lakes Michigan, Huron and Georgian Bay; wetlands, particularly those on the Laurentian Shield and fish, particularly those whose spawning grounds and habitat are threatened by poor water quality, extreme water levels, or invasive species.
WHAT HAVE WE ACCOMPLISHED?
We have engaged W.F. Baird & Associates to begin a study to model water levels on Lakes Michigan-Huron in the light of historical water level cycles and the change in conveyance capacity of the St. Clair River. If funding permits, there will be a second phase which would incorporate the potential effects of climate change. The scope is to determine most probable water level trends over the next 50 years. The findings should provide strong justification for a) placing flexible compensating structures in the St. Clair River in order to manage low water levels over the long term without exacerbating high water levels; b) minimizing the impacts of excessive precipitation during high water periods by regulating other flows into and out of the Great Lakes; and c) establishing a single Great Lakes Control Board to manage water flows in an equitable manner among the various lakes.
Our team and colleagues will provide both partial funding and “Donations in kind” (= free accommodation for researchers) to support the ongoing and new research of Prof. Pat Chow-Fraser of McMaster University on wetlands, fish productivity, water quality, and the survival of threatened species such as Blandings Turtles, and the impact of disasters such as the 2018 Key River Fire. We will help publicize the findings of this research.
We will continue to participate in national and international meetings on the threat of entry into the Great Lakes of destructive invasive species of Carp. We will gain and share information and assist lobbying efforts, in particular on the currently underestimated threat of the invasion by Grass Carp from Ohio rivers.
We will endeavour to expand our visits to Ottawa and to Washington, D.C., in order to ensure that key elected officials and government agencies receive accurate, up-to-date information on Great Lakes issues, particularly those impacting Lakes Michigan-Huron and Georgian Bay.
1. It was our team’s investigation of the St. Clair River that inspired the 2004 Baird Report. It led to the inclusion of the St. Clair River in the International Upper Great Lakes Study. In 2012, at the conclusion of that study, the IJC Commissioners recommended what our team advised; namely, restoration of the St. Clair River using flexible structures. They would hold back water for Lakes Michigan-Huron in low-water periods but not in high-water times. The latest structure design for hydraulic models by our team member and scientific advisor, Bill Bialkowski, has greatly impressed some IJC Commissioners and U.S. Army Corps Engineers.
2. Following the advice of leaders of the successful campaign 30 years ago of the Acid Rain Coalition, we engaged specific Washington D.C. lawyers to open doors there. We presented to grateful politicians and agencies the true picture of the linkage between nearly 150 years of alterations by humans to the St. Clair River and an unprecedented stretch of unusually low water levels from 1999 to 2013. This process of education needs further work in order to lead to restorative action.
3. Through some funding and many ongoing “donations in kind” of free accommodation, we have supported the wetlands and fishery research of teams from McMaster University. Professor Pat Chow-Fraser’s reports on these studies have impressed the international scholarly community and influenced government agencies. This McMaster University research has shown the negative impact of sustained low water levels on the health of the highly productive Eastern Georgian Bay wetlands and consequently on the spawning of certain fish species and the well-being of other aquatic life. This research has also shown the connection between water levels and water quality. It continues, with new thrusts added this season on the impact of the 2018 Key River Fire and the impact on the fish productivity of wetlands under excessively high water level conditions.
4. Our communications have informed many thousands of property owners and members of the general Canadian and American public about the need to be vigilant and pro-active with regard to the general health of Georgian Bay as part of the Great Lakes.
In 2019 our work with the Council of Tiny Township resulted in their resolution on the need to eradicate Grass Carp being passed at the June meeting of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. Further work is also underway on a resolution dealing with both extremes of water levels.
WHAT ARE OUR CURRENT PRIORITIES
1. Water Levels
We have engaged W.F. Baird & Associates to begin a study to model water levels on Lakes Michigan-Huron in the light of historical water level cycles and the change in conveyance capacity of the St. Clair River. If funding permits, there will be a second phase which would incorporate the potential effects of climate change. The scope is to determine most probable water level trends over the next 50 years. The findings should provide strong justification for placing flexible compensating structures in the St. Clair River in order to manage low water levels over the long term without exacerbating high water levels.
Our team and colleagues will provide “Donations in kind” (= free accommodation for researchers) to two teams of wetlands researchers from Environment Canada. We will also support the ongoing and new research of Prof. Pat Chow-Fraser of McMaster University on wetlands, fish productivity, water quality, and the survival of threatened species such as Blandings Turtles. We will help publicize the findings of this research.
3. Education on Carp Threat
We will continue to participate in national and international meetings on the threat of entry into the Great Lakes of destructive invasive species of Carp.
We will gain and share information on the currently underestimated threat of this potential invasion.
4. Education of Elected Officials & Government Agencies
We will continue and endeavour to expand our visits to Ottawa and Washington, D.C., in order to ensure that key elected officials and government agencies receive accurate, up-to-date information on Great Lakes issues, particularly those impacting Lakes Michigan-Huron and Georgian Bay.
Why do we need funding?
Although almost all of our work is undertaken by volunteers, the Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation has major expenses for our scientific research and education program around all the Great Lakes and minor expenses for admnistration and for travel to meetings with key officials and shoreline property owners’ groups.
When you give, almost 100% goes to support our cause!
Our administration expenses are very low – a very modest amount to the Huronia Community Foundation, and a similarly modest amount for the work of our professional communications expert and our website.
We are deeply grateful for your past generosity and support for our work and urge you to help us bring these endeavours to a successful conclusion.
Meet Our Board!
Chair – Mary Muter
Chair, Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation, coordinator for McMaster Universities research, former director GBA Foundation, Life Member of Georgian Bay Association, former member of Planning Committee for Township of Georgian Bay, chair of GBA Foundation water levels research that led to the report by internationally respected coastal consulting engineers W. F. Baird and Associates that first identified erosion in the St. Clair River as a significant contributing factor to sustained low water levels on Lakes Michigan/Huron/Georgian Bay. Volunteer coordinator for Township of Georgian Bay water quality assessment in nearshore waters 1999 – 2009, retired public health nurse, grandmother of 7 Georgian Bayers. Recipient of 2017 Volunteerism Award from University of Toronto, Faculty of Nursing.
Vice Chair – Roy Schatz
Vice Chair , Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation, Founding President GBA Foundation, past President Georgian Bay Association and Pointe au Baril Islanders’ Association, Councilor for Township of The Archipelago for 12 years. Former modern languages York University course director and Ministry of Education inspector.
Treasurer – Jeremy Gawen
Treasurer, Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation, former Chair of West Carling Association, past Board Member, Georgian Bay Association, Board Member, Moore Park Residents Association. Retired company executive. Trained as chemical engineer (BSc, PhD).
Secretary – Jerry Smitka
Secretary, Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation, former VP Key River Area Assn., Member Atlantic Salmon Federation, Trout Unlimited Canada. Hon. B. Sc., U. of Toronto. Retired fish biologist et al.,Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Restored Key River walleye. Science advisor Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration.
Director-at-Large – Bill Bialkowski
Director-at-large, Georgian Bay Great lakes Foundation, Professional Engineer,
Fellow Canadian Academy of Engineering, B. Eng. & M.A. Sc. (Control Engineering). Retired consulting engineer experienced in mathematical modeling of hydraulic systems. Spent fifteen years analyzing and modeling Upper Great Lakes hydrology and the conveyance capacity of the St. Clair River.
Director-at-Large – Paul Cowley
Director-at-large Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation, President, Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations. Company owner.
Director-at-Large – John Seagram
Past President of GBA Foundation and the Sans Souci Association. Councilor for the Township of The Archipelago for many years and Chair of the Township’s Environment Committee. Chair of the Georgian Bay Association’s water quality committee and established a broad-based volunteer water quality monitoring program.
THE SCIENTIFIC ADVISORS
Bill Bialkowski, B.Eng, M.A, Sc.
Experienced in mathematical modeling of hydraulic systems
Pat Chow-Fraser, PhD
Professor of Biology, McMaster University
Rob Nairn, PhD
Principal at W.F. Baird & Associates
Karl Schiefer, PhD
Aquatic biologist interested in aquatic ecosystems