THUNDER BAY -- The Experimental Lakes Area is the single most important and powerful tool for freshwater scientists, said Diane Orihel.
The ELA station near Vermillion Bay is slated to close in March 2013 as the federal government announced they would no longer fund the program. The ELA consists of 58 small lakes that are used only for scientific research.
Data has been recorded in this area since 1967 and Orihel, the director of the Coalition to Save the Experimental Lakes Area, said the program is the best way for scientists to understand the impacts humans have on freshwater lakes and aquatic food webs.
“Nowhere else in the world is there a facility and team dedicated to conducting experiments on whole lakes. This research is absolutely fundamental in how lakes work and how industrial development is impacting our freshwater ecosystems,” Orihel said Wednesday afternoon before giving a guest lecture at Lakehead University.
Orihel came to Thunder Bay to talk to students about what the ELA is and why it’s important and to talk about some of the research projects past and present at the facility.
If the program does close next spring, Orihel said they would lose the ability to understand the impacts of things like containments and climate change on lakes.
“There is a global momentum to save this vital, fundamental, essential research program,” she said.
There have been letters of support of the ELA from across Canada and the world from scientific institutions, hunting and fishing associations and city councils.
“Canadians and people right around the world are telling Prime Minister Harper that he made a very, very bad mistake,” said Orihel.
“I think all of us want to believe we live in a democracy and if enough people speak out in support of the ELA, the prime minister will reconsider the decision that has been made and will reinstate funding for the ELA,” she added.
Orihel was also speaking about the ELA at Confederation College Wednesday evening.