How are invasive species impacting fish in Minnesota? How is Environment and Climate Change Canada advancing efforts to manage harmful algal blooms in Ontario?
Those questions and more will be answered at the 2021 International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum, taking place in a virtual format this year on March 10 and 11.
The Rainy-Lake of the Woods watershed forms the international boundary between Minnesota and Ontario. The forum is put on by the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation, a registered charity based in Kenora, Ontario. It’s a professional symposium for researchers and resource managers who work in the watershed.
This year, attendees will hear a plenary keynote from Dr. Gretchen Hansen of the University of Minnesota on "Impacts of invasive spiny water fleas and zebra mussels on first-year growth of walleye and yellow perch in Minnesota’s large lakes.” A town hall discussion session on aquatic invasive species also is planned.
Environment and Climate Change Canada, which is gathering input on proposed lake ecosystem objectives and options for reducing phosphorus from Canadian sources, will hold an engagement session to answer questions and discuss details.
Registration for the forum closes March 1. See lowwsf.com/register. The registration fee is reduced this year to $30. Students can attend for free with a valid student ID.
The program is divided into major session themes including water governance, aquatic invasive species, nutrients and algae, resource regulation and monitoring.
Other highlights include an update from the IJC’s Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board and a preview of an upcoming State of the Basin Report from Bev Clark, a consultant working with the foundation, and Lucas King of Grand Council Treaty #3.
Although this year’s event is virtual due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the foundation aims to make the sessions as close to traditional as possible, with interaction between presenters and participants.
Presentations will be pre-recorded and available a week ahead of the forum, so attendees can preview at their own pace.
During the forum, presentations will be streamed during themed sessions and followed by moderated live question-and-answer discussions. Attendees will be able to submit questions directly using an online chat feature on the Zoom platform.
Organizers say they’re looking forward to participants from a rich variety of backgrounds, including nongovernmental organizations, Indigenous groups, academia and resource agencies from throughout the basin.
Sponsors of the annual event include the International Joint Commission and St. Cloud University, the latter of which provided the technical expertise to hold the 2021 forum online.
Previous forum proceedings are posted on the foundation’s website.