Washburn Goes to Washington

May 16, 2019 | DC Download, Lake Superior, Wisconsin

Senator Tammy Balwin (left) and Erika Washburn, director of the Lake Superior Reserve.

Lake Superior Reserve Director Erika Washburn did an outstanding job representing the Reserve System and other coastal programs before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Science, Ocean, Fisheries, and Weather today. Her testimony focused on climate science and the work that Reserves and partners do to help communities adapt to life on a changing coast.

“I’m grateful to Senator Baldwin for inviting me to testify,” says Washburn. “She knows how important understanding the changes in the Great Lakes is to the long-term health of our communities. It was a privilege to represent the science and outreach our programs do to help.”

“Wisconsites take great pride in our water resources, which define our quality of life and keep our economy running,” says Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI). “The Lake Superior Reserve plays a key role in helping the Twin Ports communities and our Northland residents to gain insights into the ways Lake Superior is changing. Weather patterns are changing rapidly, and I am extremely concerned about our lack of preparation.  As we work to address this issue, the first thing we need is to know what’s coming.”

Washburn’s testimony explored three aspects of climate science that are of particular importance to people in all coastal communities: changing water levels; changing habitats, and changing water temperatures and chemistry.

“The ability to predict and plan for these changes touches almost every aspect of life on the coast,” says Washburn. “It impacts infrastructure, property values, shipping, dredging, fisheries, tourism, public health, and quality of life over all.”

Washburn offered examples of how coastal programs help communities through initiatives like the Reserves’ national monitoring program, which maintains 280 stations across the 29 sites in the Reserve system. Every 15 minutes, these stations take readings on water quality, pollution, habitat change, sea level rise and weather, produce more than 40 million, publicly available data points every year.

“Communities rely on Reserve baseline monitoring data and interdisciplinary research to plan for extreme weather, manage fisheries, assess storm damage, and much more,” says Rebecca Roth, director of the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association. “We could not do this without continued federal investment in programs like Reserves that provide a bottoms up voice for what communities really need to manage the impacts of climate change.”

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