2021 Forum cvrAll eyes focused “virtually” on our watershed and lakes at the 18th annual International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum, held on March 10 and 11.  Over 180 participated – a record attendance, with 21 presentations and Q&A sessions organized into theme groups of Water Governance, Aquatic Invasive Species, Nutrients, Canadian Phosphorus Options, Regulation, and Monitoring. 

Priscilla Simard and Mona Gordon, Knowledge Keepers with the Women’s Council of Grand Council Treaty #3 opened the Forum with a prayer and ceremony honouring Nibi (water).  Their thoughtful words, reflecting on the need to work together to respect and protect Nibi in our watershed, got our meetings and discussions started in a good way.  Welcome addresses focusing on the strong binational collaboration in our watershed were provided by Consul General Ariel Delouya, from the Canadian Consulate in Minneapolis and Consul Brian Koontz, from the U.S. Consulate in Winnipeg.

Highlights included:

  • A plenary session with Dr. Gretchen Hanson of the University of Minnesota, focusing her research on the impacts of invasive spiny water fleas and zebra mussels on first-year growth of walleye and yellow perch in Minnesota’s large lakes.
  • A Town Hall discussion session with Daniel Rokitnicki-Wojcik from Environment and Climate Change Canada detailing proposed ecosystem objectives and phosphorus reduction scenarios to manage algae blooms in Lake of the Woods.
  • An update on the status of the walleye fishery in Lake of the Woods and work underway to protect the fishery from decline.
  • Updates on research by Trent University, supported by the Foundation, investigating phosphorus loading “hot spots” in tributaries to the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods to help guide management actions.

Far too much information was presented to do justice here.  A full report on the Forum, with details of the research presented is available at: www.lowwsf.com/forum-proceedings