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Great Lakes Mapping Meeting

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Last spring U.S. and Canadian scientists took steps toward initiating a benthic habitat, ecosystem, and ecologic mapping effort in the Great Lakes. To build on those discussions, a meeting was held on October 13 and 14, 1999, at the Canadian Center for Inland Waters, Burlington, Ontario. The fall colors were brilliant. This bi-national planning and coordination meeting sought to define the Great Lakes mapping goals and expand participation and sponsorship.

The USGS was represented by Jim McNeal from the National Geologic Mapping Program's Great Lakes Coalition, Greg Kennedy from BRD's Great Lakes Science Center, and Debbie Hutchinson and Peter Barnes from CMGP. There was good representation from the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) and Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), the Province of Ontario and the states of New York and Ohio, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

Ecosystem and habitat issues were of foremost concern to most agencies, although a mapping effort will assist studies of coastal change and geologic history as well. We identified Lake Erie and Lake Ontario as possible sites for beginning the project and discussed the sobering multimillion-dollar costs. It became clear that a primary focus for the many biological and habitat issues is the +5 to -10-m zone relative to lake level, leading to discussion of possible laser-mapping technologies.

The next step is for an expanded advisory group to define the product, emphasizing the new technology. The target for an expanded discussion of a draft plan for 2001/2002 is the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) meeting at the end of May 2000.

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