Georgian Bay is at a turning point

Why do you love Georgian Bay?

Is it spending every moment possible looking out over its beauty, swimming in its cool freshness, fishing for hours with your family or paddling to your favourite picnic spot? Why do you love it? Maybe for the same reason I do – simply because it is the most wonderful place in the world! It’s true - nothing in the world compares to the powerful beauty of the waters of our Georgian Bay.

But, you need to know - we are at a turning point.

A point where we must face the threats affecting Georgian Bay head on. The threats of climate change, invasive species, pollution and the slow decline of our wetlands are real. It is paramount that we work together to ensure that the water of Georgian Bay is as pristine in ten years, a hundred years or even a thousand years, as it is right now!

We’ve done a lot over the last year...

but know that we couldn’t have done any of that work without you! So thank you, on behalf of all of us who live, work, play and love the Bay! We encourage you to read on for more details on our ongoing work to protect the Bay – I know it’s long, but our small and mighty organization, is working very hard to ensure your support is well invested and is producing results!

Learn more from these links:

donation link

Putting your water first

According to individuals just like you, Georgian Bay Forever's most important work is focused on water quality and it was ranked number one, in a recent survey we conducted, in terms of what is most important to our supporters. High quality measurement data of water in Georgian Bay is critical to establishing a baseline condition and to then track changes over time that might impact the ecosystems and creatures that live there as well as the people who use the water of the Bay for drinking, swimming and fishing.

Currently, the program is cumbersome and inconsistent across the landscape of Georgian Bay making comparisons and a holistic crisis plan extremely difficult. Our solution? To purchase the first-in-Canada, i3XO Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). This machine would revolutionize how we, and our partners, test your water and track systemic changes that may critically affect the quality of the water that is crucial to you and me.

Additionally, we partnered with the University of Guelph to conduct preliminary testing of the possible effects of fish aquaculture and its impacts in Georgian Bay. We have determined that, although there have been no immediate red flags, there is still an enormous lack of available research on nutrients in freshwater locations. We have more work to do in this area so that policy and decision makers can be better informed.

Protect the precious aquatic plants and creatures that live here

GBF continues our work fighting against and informing the public on invasives as well as delivering our very successful “Train the Trainer Phragbuster” program which has been building community guardians all around the Bay for the last four years and has helped to brand GBF, from numerous sources, as an expert organization on the identification and eradication of Phragmites from our coastlines.

Northern Pike

The DNA Barcode Library, once completed, will improve our ability to monitor the aquatic biodiversity of the ecosystem, and aid in mapping the food web. Coupled with other inputs, scientists can produce ecosystem models that will predict how Georgian Bay ecosystems will respond to major environmental stressors or management actions. To date, we have sampled 399 species but estimate that there are still over 3,200 to go! The University of Guelph has stepped up their funding of this program for the next couple of years and GBF is hoping to as well. If we don’t, according to the scientists in the water, some of the species will disappear from our waters forever! We cannot let this happen!

One of our other key partner projects is working with the Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council to survey and seek potential new spawning, rearing, nursery and foraging habitat for declining fish species such as Walleye and Lake Trout and Lake Sturgeon. We have successfully surveyed eight tributaries together and the project is now almost complete with one restoration site being worked on this fall.

A place like this is worth fighting for.

Two year’s ago, GBF retained the services of AECOM to assess and recommend contemporary, climate resilient flexible structural options to mitigate plausible future extreme water levels of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.

Low and High Water

The Final Report of the study shows not only that we need to do something - but that we have viable options that can regulate water levels for the long term. With more rain falling in very short amounts of time, extensive flooding causing billions in damages and sewage runoff to enter our waters becoming the norm, doing something to mitigate the high-highs and low-lows, is not only critical but should be mandatory and an immediate priority.

Our Low Water Blues study, released in 2014, clearly showed the disastrous effect, to the tune of $18+ billion in lost revenue, of sustained low waters, and now we clearly have seen the economic cost of high waters.

Climate change and extreme weather is arguably the biggest and most challenging threat to Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes. Although David Sweetnam, Executive Director, has been and continues to present the results to representatives on both sides of the border, there is still much work to be done.

Support a plan to protect Georgian Bay

These activities are solely supported through the generosity of our donors. Ongoing financial contributions are essential to the important scientific work underway now and in the future and it is my hope that we can count on you for your support this year.

Because of your commitment and love for Georgian Bay, please donate today and consider a monthly pledge.

Thank you from Anne Randell

Chair of Georgian Bay Forever