‘Tribute to ELA’

‘Tribute to ELA’ emphasized the need to save the Experimental Lakes Area:

On September 16, scientists, students, politicians, and citizens expressed their deep concern about the imminent closure of a unique freshwater research facility during a public event at The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) is world-class institution for understanding global threats to freshwater lakes, but the Harper government is cancelling this program next year.

Retired ELA scientists Ian Davies, Susan Kasian, Ray Hesslein spoke about the prominent role of ELA in the history of limnology, the unique whole-ecosystem experiments only possible at ELA, and ELA’s unique long term record of lakes, respectively. Dr. Hesslein explained that “like a champion biathlete capable of extreme skiing effort combined with precision shooting, ELA has demonstrated its mastery for both brute force and elegance in performing exceptional science.”

University students Elissa Van Walleghem, Matt Martens, and Nastashya Wall described research projects conducted at ELA, such as studies to understand the effects of synthetic hormones on fish populations, the impacts of flooding soils on mercury contamination of fish, and how changing nutrient inputs to freshwater lakes affects blooms of toxic blue-green algae.

Politicians Niki Ashton, NDP MP for Churchill, Jon Gerrard, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, and James Beddome, Leader of the Green Party of Manitoba, gave powerful speeches on the importance of ELA to Manitoba, Canada, and the world. Ms. Ashton asserted “Our message to the Harper government is Save ELA, stop the attack on the environment, and the disrespect toward scientists and researchers”. Master of Ceremony of the event, Geoff Currier, CJOB, pointed out that “the campaign to save ELA should cut across all political lines.”

Catherine Salki, speaking on behalf of the Lake Winnipeg Foundation, stated her foundation “is grateful for the outstanding leadership and effort by the Experimental Lakes Area researchers to help Lake Winnipeg”.

The event also featured educational displays and entertainment: Dave Findlay set up microscopes with algae samples; John Shearer, Edda Irvin, and Dave & Trudy Rosenberg performed a wonderful skit called “The Lorax at ELA”; and music was played by Stephen Paterson and Micah Erenberg.

The public event was organized by the Coalition to Save ELA. Diane Orihel, Director of the Coalition to Save ELA stated emphatically: “ELA is not simply 58 lakes. ELA is not simply 19 buildings in the bush. ELA is a public science program staffed by scientists and technicians who are public servants.  It is the job of ELA scientists to serve Canadians by producing scientific knowledge required by the federal government to produce public policy”.

Written testimonies submitted by scientists, students, and concerned citizens are available here.

Photos of the event can be viewed here.

Photo Credit: Larry de March

External Links:
Winnipeg Free Press - ELA program cuts protested at Forks
Winnipeg Free Press - Scientists, students protest cuts to Experimental Lakes
Winnipeg Sun - It’s not too late to save Experimental Lakes Area, say scientists
Dr. Jon Gerrard’s Blog - “We Must Save ELA”

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