2015 has been a busy year for Great Lakes island talks & plans

A quick update is that Dave Ewert and I gave invited talks about the islands of the Great Lakes at the April 2015 NatureConserve “Biodiversity without Boundaries” conference in Traverse City. I gave the history of the Great Lakes Islands Collaborative and Dave followed with key information from Islands of Life. We’ll also be giving a talk (Dave) and moderating (me) a Michigan islands session at the upcoming October 28-30, 2015, State of Lake Michigan Conference, again in Traverse City. We’ll post links to relevant information as they come available. Hope to see some of you there! Come say hi!

Our island team is in the process of discussing and making plans for future work, and I’m actively engaged in my own book research with recent trip to Ontario (including my first look at the controversial Wolfe Island wind turbines seen in the distance in my panoramic photograph below). So stay tuned!

Distant wind turbines of Wolfe Island

Distant wind turbines of Wolfe Island – click to enlarge (copyright 2015 Karen Vigmostad)

2012 promises new island initiatives

South Bass Island (Lake Erie)

2012 is shaping into a good year for Great Lakes island activities:

  • The island team is in initial discussions to develop a formal work plan to foster implement of island conservation throughout the Great Lakes ecoregion.  We’ll be seeking support for those efforts.
  • Within the next few weeks I will be on Ann Arbor cable television talking with show host Barbara Lucas about Beaver Island and the big picture of Great Lakes islands conservation.  I’ll post links here when I know when it will air.
  • I’m working with a publisher on an island book proposal.  The book will be the cumulation of 25 years of my passionate interest and  involvement with the islands.

I’ll also further develop this blog so as to share these initiatives and involve more people in learning about and better caring for the islands.

Karen Vigmostad

Two-hour discussion at SOLEC on Great Lakes islands being planned

Spent today on telephone and email crafting interactive session for this year’s State of the Great Lakes Conference (SOLEC) in Erie, PA, in late October. Such fun to be back in the saddle. Partners Dan Kraus of Nature Conservancy Canada and Dave Ewert of The Nature Conservancy will present and update the 2010 “Islands of Life” report. They’ll provide lake-by-lake assessments including for Georgian Bay islands and the Beaver archipelago. Linda Wires and Francie Cuthbert of University of Minnesota will provide a new presentation on colonial-nesting waterbirds and their recently funded 2012 monitoring of 100 islands of particular importance to these amazing birds.

We’ll devote much of the two hours to asking session participants help the Great Lakes Islands Network determine next steps. Ideas we are considering include regional reporting, working on a uniform Great Lakes coastal ecosystem classification system, and assistance to island communities, researchers, managers, and owners.

So please come to Erie, PA, October 26 and 27, to help guide the future of Great Lakes islands! The islands session is set for Wednesday afternoon. Here are some links to SOLEC: Binational.net and US EPA.  On these sites are links to past SOLEC reports on critical Great Lakes issues and lake-by-lake assessments.

Back in the saddle

Some of my 1,900+ books that were moved, and a bit of Henry Boy!

Life is still chaotic as I face what seem like endless boxes that need to be unpacked and two offices that need to be organized.  But in the past two months I’ve done the move and been on trips to the Georgian Bay, Cape Cod, and Bowling Green, KY.  In August I start my circle tour of Lake Superior.  Now time to get back to the beloved islands, my writing and photography, and getting reacquainted with UM-Dearborn (where my islands office is) and Ann Arbor (where my new home is).  But first time to tackle those boxes!

Wisconsin Coastal Management Program applications due Nov 1st

Received this grant announcement today that could address habitat restoration, education, and coastal resource planning for islands in Wisconsin waters:

The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP) is seeking proposals to enhance, preserve, protect and restore resources within the state’s coastal zone – all counties adjacent to Lakes Superior and Michigan, with their nearly 1000 miles of shoreline. We anticipate awarding approximately $1.5 million in grant.

WCMP Grants are available for coastal wetland protection and habitat restoration, nonpoint source pollution control, coastal resource and community planning, Great Lakes education, public access and historic preservation.   Applications are due November 1, 2010.

Applicants are encouraged to contact WCMP staff early to discuss ideas for project proposals and application requirements.  When developing proposals, please pay close attention to the following items:
*       Application materials and the Request for Proposals are available on the WCMP website (http://coastal.wisconsin.gov)
*       There is a cost-share requirement for all projects.  Matching funds must be from non-federal sources, and may be in the form of in-kind contributions.
*       For habitat restoration and construction projects, be sure to include copies of all required permits or permit applications and title documentation with the application materials.  For all projects, be sure to include copies of required documentation and letters of support.

U.S. greatly lags in signing U.N. Biodiversity Convention

Actor Edward Norton is UN goodwill ambassador for biodiversity. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Excellent article by Edward Norton in yesterday’s http://www.guardian.co.uk.  This is the U.N. International Year of Biodiversity and Norton writes that “For the first time at the UN, heads of state and government and officials from its 192-member states will hold a meeting exclusively devoted to the biodiversity crisis.”  Norton says that at a gathering on September 22, “world leaders will call for the introduction of sustainable practices in land and resource use, an increase in protected areas around the world, and for plans to reconcile development with conservation.”

This thrills me after nearly 20 years of working with partners to get the Great Lakes islands’  biodiversity information in place such that it can be considered and protected in perpetuity.  As the world’s largest collection of freshwater islands, Great Lakes islands are globally rare and their biological diversity is of global importance.  See the excellent recent article by Tom Meersman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that captures the work and partnerships and importance of these islands.

This pending set of commitments also ties in to findings from my dissertation research.  I conducted confidential interviews with very successful real estate developers and several land-use planners, and deeply studied the practice of development in the United States.  I wanted to walk in the shoes of developers with an eye toward finding commonalities as a basis to work together to conserve biological diversity.

My research showed that nature is pretty much invisible not only to developers, but to our entire culture and way of life.  We post signs that read “vacant land” and local planning discussions don’t consider the variety of plants, animals, and birds who already make that land their home.  Among other things, I concluded that financial incentives and regulations need to change because developers are businessmen (and I do mean “businessmen” for I found women rarely are developers and I didn’t find any in Michigan).  Developers must make money, of course, as must we all.

I was surprised to learn that developers find their work so engaging, creative, and challenging.  I was pleased to hear them talk about following federal regulations that protect endangered species and wetlands.  One developer–who spent nearly four hours with me–consults the Michigan Natural Features inventory before he will purchase land, and will go ahead with a project if he believes he can protect the habitat of an endangered species.  This developer even got into this line of work because he loves to be outdoors.

I remain hopeful yet more fully aware of the vast work ahead if we are to protect the variety of life on Earth.  Let’s all urge our political leaders to get the U.S. to sign on to the Convention of Biological Diversity and then implement it.  The Convention opened for signatures on 5 June 1992, and 18 years is long enough for the U.S. to sidestep our international and moral responsibility to conserve the world’s biological diversity.