|Map of the Great Lakes Basin|
The Great Lakes Basin is one of the largest watersheds in our nation, affecting millions of people and holding roughly six quadrillion gallons of water . By affecting, I mean supplying fresh water, fish, recreation, shipping, and more. Those are the positives...but it can supply negative effects too if we are not careful. Polluted waters, invasive species, and other similar threats are growing throughout the Great Lakes Region. Anyone who has been near one of the lakes has surely seen signs about stopping aquatic invaders, such as the Zebra Mussel or Gobi. We are also threatened from within our own boundaries, as Southern cities and states, such as Atlanta, have been vying for water resources from the Great Lakes to combat the drought problems plaguing the country, according to The Daily Green.
Even if you don't live within the Great Lakes Basin yet live in one of the surrounding states, I can almost assure you that the Great Lakes have affected you in some way. For me, it was countless trips to Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA and fishing charters around the islands near Put-In-Bay, Ohio that helped instill a conservation ethic in me. Reading through this blog, you have probably read of a number of things that have instilled this ethic in me, and yes, it's true that it is hard to pinpoint. It is a collaboration of all of my time spent outdoors growing up...on the Great Lakes, skiing all over the country, traveling throughout the west and New England, exploring my own backyard, and hunting/fishing trips with my dad. So while I didn't live in the GL Basin (growing up in Pittsburgh), I was still affected by the lakes immensely. They're a source of pleasure, whether I use them daily or not. They have an intrinsic value, simplistically, they have value just because they exist. The plants, animals, microbes, and thousands of other moving parts make up a diverse and exciting ecosystem that I am proud to see will continue to be supported in the future by both the U.S. and Canada. It should be a great stride forward in protecting more international resources and will hopefully be an example to other nations about international conservation efforts. (It isn't the first time the U.S. and Canada have collaborated. See the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park in Montana, US and Alberta, CA).
As we move away from thinking within our boundaries and more towards ecosystem thinking, these international conservation treaties will become even more valuable to protecting the natural resources of our world. Remember, every river has an upstream and every river has a downstream. We all affect everyone else.
Let me know your thoughts by emailing me here!