Lake Erie: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

During the holiday season, much of our focus is on giving and receiving gifts. However, during this exchange of gifts, one of our greatest gifts can often get overlooked: Lake Erie.

Lake Erie is the 11th largest freshwater lake in the world. It is the shallowest, warmest and most biologically productive of the Great Lakes. These facts set the stage for many of the gifts Lake Erie gives us each year:

  • It supplies drinking water to over 11 million people.
  • The Lake Erie region of Ohio generates nearly $13 billion in tourism revenue annually, contributing about $1.7 billion in state and local taxes.
  • The Lake Erie commercial fishery is the most valuable freshwater fishery in the world.
  • Shipping and related activities at the Port of Cleveland have an economic benefit of over $1.8 billion/year, and support about 18,000 jobs (direct and indirect employment).
  • Wine: Lake Erie creates the perfect climate for vineyards on its shores.
  • Countless recreational opportunities for residents ranging from swimming beaches to sailing to birdwatching, and everything in between.
  • Did I mention the amazing sunsets?

Despite all these societal benefits that we receive from Lake Erie, we humans have not been to sufficiently protect it from the impacts of our use of the lake and its watershed. Yes, the causes of harmful algal blooms, dead zones, and Lake Erie's other ills are many, complex and interwoven. But all of us who benefit directly or indirectly from Lake Erie have both the responsibility and the opportunity to give Lake erie the gift of improving health this year.

Some ideas for gifts to Lake Erie inlcude:

  • Donate to or vounteer for a local nonprofit organization working to improve the Lake Erie watershed. A list of local watershed organizations can be found here.
  • Reduce your runoff footprint, especially your fertilizer usage.
  • Pick up after your dog to avoid bacteria like E. coli washing into storm drains.
  • Enjoy Lake Erie and share it with your friends, family and especially your children!

Blog Author: Jared Bartley, Rocky River Watershed Coordinator

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