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Lots of love for Lake Erie

Alex Green • Jul 10, 2014 at 8:00 PM


"Lake Erie Love" is this year's campaign for the Lake Erie Shores & Islands Visitors' Bureau.

Larry Fletcher, the bureau's executive director, said this slogan sums up why the Ohio governor has been coming to Ottawa County for 35 years for Governor's Fish Ohio Day.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) enjoyed a day on the lake along with hundreds of other boaters Wednesday and eventually signed a bill to form an invasive species task force during a press conference.

It was just the most recent step officials have taken to protect the natural resource, as the battle continues to educate those outside of the region about just how vital Lake Erie is to the population.

"(The Republican National Convention) is going to be here in June (2016)," Kasich said. "Let's get the charter captains to have a program to (bring) delegates from Cleveland and get them on the lake. We need to target all 50 states and let them know what we have here."

Senate Bill 150 was recently approved, establishing new requirements for applying fertilizer for agriculture production and encourage the use of nutrient management to reduce potential runoff.

Furthermore, the state has had a long battle with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the issue of open lake dumping, Kasich said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes projects at the lowest possible cost, Ohio EPA director Craig Butler said two weeks ago.

Butler attended the event along with a myriad of other elected and public officials.

But a deal was recently made between Kasich's administration and the Army Corps who agreed to use $10 million to start testing potential engineering solutions.

Parts of Lake Erie near Toledo are some of the shallowest in all of the Great Lakes, and longstanding dredging techniques have often dumped sediment into North Maumee Bay.

But this particular deal is hoping to change the practice and Butler said the EPA and other state agencies are studying potential uses for the sediment.

"We're seeking ways to turn it into commodity, not a liability," Butler said.

Some potential uses for the sediment would be:

-Mine reclamation projects

-Beach nourishment

-Topsoil enrichment

-Ohio Department of Transportation bridge abutment projects

-Landfill cover

-Brownfield redevelopment

But out of all the recent efforts to preserve Lake Erie, the Aquatic Invasive Species task force was the most talked about Wednesday.

The group is comprised of members from eight states bordering the Great Lakes and two Canadian provinces. Its purpose is to monitor the threat of invasive species within the Great Lakes, and coordinate responses if actions need to be taken to fight the species.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources officers John Navarro, Rich Carter and Scott Zody will represent Ohio on the task force.

Zody said an Asian carp population suddenly arose two years ago in Sandusky Bay. Now that the task force exists, similar future threats will be handled by the task force.

The purposes of the AIS task force:

-Help prevent introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species

-Foster mutual aid

-Establish protocols for states to consider

-All parties agree to share information, research and best available science to address invasive species issues

-The requesting party will determine actions and implementation necessary to address the event

First actions:

-Illinois conducted a mock drill in the Chicago area

-Ohio and Michigan will conduct a mock drill this fall

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