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GLIN==> First-Ever Great Lakes-Wide Dunes Conference Set for October 3-4



First-Ever Great Lakes-Wide Dunes Conference Set for October 3-4

Contact:  Sandra E. Bonanno, New York Sea Grant, 315-598-4063, 315-312-3042
                 Jpgs of dune/shoreline in New York State available by
request to karalynn@gisco.net

Oswego, NY; New York Sea Grant; 08-17-06 – For the first time, researchers,
educators and resource managers will gather from eight states and Ontario,
Canada, to discuss the systemwide needs of the Great Lakes dunes system.
The dunes system is vital to Great Lakes Basin environmental, ecological,
tourism and economic interests. Formation of a Great Lakes Sand Dunes
Ecosystem Coalition and the beginnings of a basinwide strategy for
environmentally responsible management of the dunes systems are the
hoped-for outcomes of the first Great Lakes Dunes Conference to be held
October 3-4 in Traverse City, Michigan.

Conference organizer Sandra E. Bonanno, New York Sea Grant, Oswego, NY,
says, “Many organizations and individuals across the basin in the U.S. and
Canada have been active in Great Lakes dune research, management and
education for a long time. What we have not had is a structure for coming
together to share knowledge, experiences and lessons learned that in turn
becomes a strategy for managing this unique resource on a basinwide scale.”

“This conference leads the way for the isolated geographic pockets of
people interested in the dunes to come together across state and
international borders to share interests, resources, responsibilities and
new ways of together protecting the Great Lakes dunes system,” says New
York Sea Grant Recreation/Tourism Specialist David G. White.

Dunes Provide Unique Habitat, Protect Shoreline Property Bonanno says the
dunes system provides habitat for rare plants and animals; protects
shoreline property; and provides shelter from the storm energy of the Great
Lakes for a vast complex of wetlands that supports its own rich diversity
of flora, fauna and fish.

“In New York, for example, the dunes system provides habitat for dune
willow, sand cherry, Champlain beachgrass, numerous migrating birds, and
for rare and endangered species such as the Northern Harrier and Black
Tern,” Bonanno says. “A myriad of fishes spawn in the wetlands behind the
dunes. And, while the dunes and beaches are themselves subject to erosion,
they protect a much larger area of lowland property.”

Combining Resources to Benefit All of Great Lakes System The October 3-4
conference agenda will address the current state of dunes research,
education and resource management efforts. Participants will brainstorm
needs, threats and opportunities to form the beginning of a strategic
management plan.

“We need to learn from one another what has worked and what has not worked
in our different state and provincial political and cultural settings. Each
setting provides its own advantages and disadvantages, but nature respects
no political boundaries. The threats to ecosystems are systemic and need to
be dealt with across the basin. Multi-state and binational cooperation is
needed to focus political attention on the needs of the Great Lakes dunes
system. This conference is the first step toward building a broad coalition
of support,” Bonanno says.

EPA Great Lakes National Program Director Gary Gulezian to Keynote U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office
Director Gary Gulezian is the keynote speaker. Noted Michigan
environmentalist Tanya Cabala opens the conference at The Hagerty Center at
Northwest Michigan College with a presentation on the history, lore and
legends of the Great Lakes dunes.

Speakers from Wilfrid Laurier University and Nipissing University in
Ontario, Canada; and from Michigan State University, Hope College, and
Calvin College in Michigan will talk about research efforts. Speakers from
The Ontario Dune Coalition in New York State,

Wisconsin State Parks, Ontario Parks, and the Ohio Department of Natural
Resources will join university representatives to talk about dune
management. National Parks Service, Ontario Parks, the Michigan Department
of Natural Resources, and Michigan Sea Grant representatives will talk
about educational outreach.

Field trips are planned to The Nature Conservancy’s Point Betsie area and
to the Arcadia area of the Grand Traverse Conservancy. An optional
pre-conference trip will visit the dunes at Sleeping Bear National
Lakeshore.

The US Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office
has provided funding administered through the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation. New York Sea Grant and the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute
of Northwestern Michigan College are providing additional support.

To learn more, submit a poster or register ($50 US conference fee), go
online to www.nysgdunes.org or contact Dunes Conference Coordinator Sandra
E. Bonanno, New York Sea Grant, Oswego, NY, 315-598-4063 or 315-312-3042,
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