MINUTES OF 39TH MEETING
COUNCIL OF GREAT LAKES
RESEARCH MANAGERS

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN
SEPTEMBER 18, 2003


Canadian Members Present

Dr. Harvey Shear
(Canadian
Co-chair)
Environment Canada, Downsview, ON
Dr. Robert C. Andrews University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
Dr. Alex Bielak National Water Research Institute, Environment Canada, Burlington, ON
Dr. Jan J.H. Ciborowski Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON
Dr. William Meades Forest Ecology, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service
Mr. Dan Bondy Natural Wildlife Research Center, Canadian Wildlife Service
Ms. Jacinthe Leclerc Environment Conservation Branch, Environment Canada, Centre Saint-Laurent

U.S. Members Present

Dr. Stephen Brandt
(U.S. Co-chair)
Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab, NOAA, Ann Arbor, MI
Mr. Paul Horvatin U.S. EPA-GLNPO, Chicago, IL
Dr. Joseph DePinto Limno-Tech, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI
Dr. Tom Johnson Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MI
Dr. Jeffrey Reutter Ohio Sea Grant and OSU Research Center
Dr. Leon Carl U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center, Ann Arbor, MI
Mr. James R. Nicholas U.S. Geological Survey, Michigan District, Water Resources Division,

Binational Members Present

Dr. Charles C. Kruger Great Lakes Fisheries Commission

Secretary

Mr. Mark Burrows IJC Great Lakes Regional Office, Windsor, ON.

Approval of Agenda

A briefing from Roger Gauthier and Christine Manninen regarding a Great Lakes Commission (GLC) project to write a business plan for a Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) was added to the morning agenda and the meeting sequence was rearranged to accommodate travel arrangements for members that needed to depart early. Steve Brandt agreed to provide a short briefing on the Great Lakes Research Consortium in place of Ed Mills, who was unable to attend.

Research Strategy Overview and Relation to GLNPO Planning Efforts

The group discussed the summary of discussion from the 38th meeting and features of a Great Lakes Research Strategy.

The consensus was for a long term strategy that would coordinate efforts on any large scale study and be a blueprint for future activities. All agreed that there could be a parallel effort on both a long term plan and an "IFYGL 2". IFYGL 2 could be viewed as a case study, or a "proof of concept" test of the research strategy.

Full involvement from the Academic community was seen as crucial and it was suggested that the National Science Foundation be invited to participate along with top administrators from other agencies.

The actions underway to create a Great Lakes Restoration Plan were discussed and the need to coordinate a strategy with that effort and others was also discussed. The group discussed additional audits being carried out by the General Accounting Office (GAO) and that their biggest complaint is that the Great Lakes community is "disjointed" in its approach to research.

A unified "umbrella plan" for the whole basin laying out where we're at and where we want to go would speed management and distribution of government funds. It was observed that although the Chesapeake Bay area is looked to (by some) as a model, they do not have such a plan.

The group discussed time frames for planning, such as a "50 year plan" and the need to prioritize and set percentage goals in increments. They also discussed the need for a short term (10 year) plan aligned with the long term, the need to thoroughly review what the everglades are doing. They did have a unified plan, but it was much less complex than the Great Lakes because they had only one state and one federal agency to deal with.

It was noted that the National Sea Grant is funding the Northeast Midwest Institute (NEMW) to study the Everglades and Chesapeake projects and to give advice.

It was recommended that the Council become part of the Great Lakes Commission process - request to be their "resources and monitoring strategy group" and also part of the State by State/Province by Province work on the restoration plan.

Great Lakes Commission Business Plan Development for the Great Lakes Observing System

The Council was briefed by Roger Gauthier and Christine Manninen on the Great Lakes Commission's proposals for Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) and the desire to merge the GLC and CGLRM endeavors.

The GLC grant work is to develop a business plan for GLOS, a one year project to develop the plan for a Regional Observing Network that would be one "node" of 11 or 12 parts of an ocean observing system. The business plan would address governance and coordination; project group is still assembling a steering committee with members of NOAA, Univ. of Wisconsin, and all relevant agencies. The effort will involve gathering input from stakeholder groups, much like the CGLRM observing system proposal.

After discussing options and issues to consider, the Council decided to request that the CGLRM be part of the Great Lakes Commission project steering committee, to work cooperatively with the GLC and to sponsor workshop(s) associated with this project.

Steve Brandt reported that the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab held a meeting with users of monitoring data to gather information on user needs. The results of that meeting will be made available in a report and will be shared with the Council.

Plans for GL Observing System Workshop

The Council's discussion of an observing system workshop continued in the afternoon following the briefing by the GLC. A four day workshop had been envisioned in an earlier proposal by NOAA. The Council discussed this proposal, how the workshop could be structured and how it may be able to collaborate on it with the GLC. The group decided to refer the details to the council subcommittee to plan the workshop and prepare a briefing for the commissioners.

Observations on how the Research Strategy fits with EPA GLNPO Activities

Paul Horvatin led a discussion on recent U.S. legislative initiatives, audits being conducted by the General Accounting Office (GAO) and the desire to answer questions raised by the GAO.

The need to identify and address management questions such as how funds are targeted, what are the endpoints and what indicators are used was discussed in detail. Actions to coordinate activities between fisheries management and water quality on issues such as phosphorus were discussed, as well as the need to get information to managers in a form they can understand. State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) peer review of indicators is scheduled for October 2003. Those involved with SOLEC are still looking at what indicators they really need and endpoints that they will manage towards.

The group discussed the need for research priorities and a research strategy to get the job done. The question of how to communicate information to managers in terms of indicators that they can take action on was also discussed.

The examples of the botulism problem and the phosphorus problem were raised in terms of a research strategy. It was observed that not all research groups/agencies are engaged on the botulism problem and the phosphorus problem because they are localized occurrences. The way these problems have been handled was seen as a good illustration of the need for a strategy - a coordinating mechanism, or "Organization chart", where everyone will benefit from research that addresses problems that haven't yet arrived in their "backyard". The group agreed that endpoints are also an important part of the planning process and discussed the possible need for a contingency fund for emerging issues like botulism.

Integrating Council Strategy with Canadian Plans

Harvey Shear briefed the Council on how a CGLRM research strategy would fit in with Canadian initiatives. He discussed the Environment Canada program funding and budget schedule. EC programs are funded every five years - in 2002 they asked for 200 M over five years and only got 40 M. Ways to improve the communication of needs and the resulting funding levels were discussed.

Environment Canada is setting up the Ontario Science Network that will be looking at a long term "science strategy" to generate the maximum amount of knowledge.

He recommended a research strategy that serves as a binational strategy to nest with domestic initiatives and the Canada Ontario Agreement (COA). The COA is next up for review in 2007 and could serve as a mechanism to deliver on research strategy.

Existing Model Organizations

Great Lakes Research Consortium

Steve Brandt provided an overview of the Great Lakes Research Consortium (GLRC). The GLRC is based in New York and started out with 3 or 4 small universities contributing money and holding meetings. There are now 15 academic institutions in the consortium with Canadian involvement as well, distributing grant money, sharing lectures, and encouraging those involved in academic research to share results. There is approximately $200,000 per year of state money mostly going to small grants programs.

Role of the Research Director of the GLRC

The consortium forms topical groups that jointly formulate proposals. Executive Director (Jack Manno) and the Research Director (Council member, Ed Mills) foster that effort and ensure that all are aware of proposals and are engaged in the process.

There are representatives from each of the Consortium member universities involved in the GLRC. The Consortium has a Board of Directors, comprised of those empowered to commit funding, and a steering committee that reviews grant proposals. Reviewers receive feedback from people both within and outside of the New York area before making decisions on funding research proposals.

Upper Lakes Environmental Research Network (ULERN)

Bill Meades gave a presentation on ULERN. ULERN is a not-for-profit organization with representatives of both government and private educational institutions involved. Each member organization put in $10,000 to set up the office. They have since brought in about $10M for research, and have given both universities and government agencies access to the benefits of funding.

ULERN has permanent staff, a board of directors, and always looks 6 months ahead to anticipate needs and to ensure a steady flow of funding. Private corporations are involved from the stand-point of identifying research and development projects that need to be done.

The "end point" for ULERN is the "natural condition". At least one staff member is continuously looking for grant proposals and helping to build proposals. ULERN staff actively organizes researchers and are skilled at building joint proposals. John Lawrence with NWRI is on ULERN Board of Directors and Bill Meades is also on the Board of Directors.

Lake Erie Millennium Network (LEMN)

Jan Ciborowski provided a presentation about the LEMN. He stated that both the LEMN & ULERN were both formed for "mercenary" purposes: to obtain and distribute research funding.

LEMN formed 1998 and has several levels of participation: Conveners, Sponsors & Collaborators. It serves as a binational resources network to address management needs.

He described the process of establishing LEMN in a series of steps:

  • Step 1 - Solicit membership
  • Step 2 - Document research and management needs (LEMN prevailing issues workshop - Nov. 98)
  • Step 3 - Build strategy - Take stock of what we already know or understand about the Great Lakes ecosystem and look at what we need to know and understand. (LEMN held a binational conference in April 1999, and should have book published on the results in the near future.)
  • Step 4 - Clarify research questions by holding research needs workshops to focus on different areas. Workshops focus is about hypothesis testing and modeling to feed science into policy support.

One of the "shelved" hypotheses that had been put together for LEMN proved to be the one used for the recent Lake Erie "dead zone" study. This enabled the network to quickly react to the needs of government and managers to successfully conduct a large research exercise, answer questions and facilitate informed decision making. The LEMN is a voluntary open forum where all operating funds are yearly and depend on creative financing.

The Council discussed the successful Lake Erie study, financing questions, the ability of the network to respond to requests, and how the GLRC, ULERN and LEMN can provide good models to assist the CGLRM build a binational research strategy.

The Council agreed to charge the subcommittees with moving ahead on both the research strategy and observing system workshops. A letter will be sent to the Great Lakes Commission expressing the will of the CGLRM to participate in the GLOS project.


The Council agreed to try to have a teleconference in November and to hold the next meeting in Canada sometime in the spring. Details will be developed at a later date.