GLSI coordinator talks to US House

ALPENA – Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative program coordinator Daniel Moffatt recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C., where he gave a presentation to several members of the House of Representatives and those interested in national marine sanctuaries. Moffatt spoke as part of a series about the power of innovative partnerships in National Marine Sanctuaries, and highlighted programs with the Great Lakes that involve place-based education in connection to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

“It’s a big initiative for the region that involves more than 30 schools and over 100 teachers,” Moffatt said. “I focused on a few projects like invasive species education, which involved GLSI, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Natural Resources and the sanctuary. Students were studying zebra mussles and followed them up the river doing surveys, and while they were in the river they found another invasive species, the rusty crayfish.”

Moffatt also included examples of the adopt-a-beach program through Thunder Bay Junior High, and how students identified an invasive plant, phragmities, and went to the city council to address the issue.

“Giving the presentation was just a small piece of a larger political puzzle,” Moffatt said. “It was another way to bring stewardship and conservation forward, and raise public awareness.”

Moffatt’s presentation wrapped up the briefing that included speakers Dr. Sylvia Earle, who spoke about science for solutions; Mitchell Tartt, who presented about how sanctuaries can be sentinel sites for understanding ecosystems; and Tyson Bottenus, who highlighted ways to engage the next generation of ocean stewards. Moffatt said it was fitting for his presentation to come after Bottenus because the projects being done with all of the partners of the sanctuary are creating stewards who are studying the changes in the ecosystems that come from invasive species.

“It was a benefit to bring good news from the Great Lakes region and highlight the really cool things that are happening here,” Moffatt said. “I felt honored to bring information about what is going on with the sanctuary and its partners to the capital. It was a great opportunity to reach out and highlight the programs. Hopefully the presentation will offer inspiration.”

The briefing also was a way to highlight how sanctuaries are ideal places to focus investments when planning for the future, and gave those in attendance a better understanding of how sanctuaries and partners provide a better understanding of changes in the oceans and Great Lakes. To further show the programs in conjunction with the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its partners, Moffatt provided each representative with a packet including information about the various watershed projects and stewardship initiatives that have been making a difference in the communities around the sanctuary. The packet also included a copy of a documentary in which a number of these programs were explored in depth.

To find out more about GLSI projects visit www.nemiglsi.org.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at ngrulke@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.