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Protecting the Great Lakes from climate change? The Army Corps of Engineers wants your input

A satellite image of the Great Lakes.
SeaWiFS Project
/
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and ORBIMAGE
A satellite image of the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking for input on how to make the Great Lakes region more resilient to the effects of climate change.

The Corps is holding a series of virtual meetings for its Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study in collaboration with the seven Great Lakes states.

Mike Padilla with the Corps says the five-year collaborative study will use research along with input from stakeholders and the public on how to protect the economic, social and environmental value of the Great Lakes.

"What we're trying to do is identify coastal areas and coastal resources that are likely, are already or likely become vulnerable to flooding, erosion and accretion," he said. "We want to identify resilient actions that address those vulnerabilities and improve resilience and adaptability of coastal resources."

Resilient actions can include investments that support the protection of infrastructure, habitat, resources and recreation in the region, Padilla said.

"We're worried about the things that could cause disruptions or events that could be negative or impactful to the [people] here," he said. "That could be variable water levels and ice conditions under a range of possible climate change scenarios."

One goal of the study is to preserve the water quality and shoreline in the face of climate change, said Scudder Mackey, chief of the Office of Coastal Management with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

"Nutrient and sediment loading to the lake that helps, generate and cause the harmful algal blooms," he said. "More specific issues that we deal with are … water level, storms and social events, coastal erosion and flooding, sand resources, habitat loss and degradation."

Mike Padilla with the Corps says the five-year collaborative study will use research along with input from stakeholders and the public on how to protect the economic, social and environmental value of the Great Lakes.

"What we're trying to do is identify coastal areas and coastal resources that are likely are already or likely become vulnerable to flooding, erosion and accretion," he said. "We want to identify resilient actions that address those vulnerabilities and improve resilience and adaptability of coastal resources."

Padilla says the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study is expected to be completed in 2028 and will include a strategic plan to preserve lakefront communities and water conditions.

The next virtual public meeting is cohosted by Michigan at 3 p.m. Thursday over Zoom. The public meetings continue through next week with a meeting hosted by the state of New York Monday at 2 p.m. and two separate meetings on Tuesday hosted by the state of Wisconsin at 11 a.m. and by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 6:30 p.m.

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Zaria Johnson is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media covering the environment.