As reported in our previous newsletter, Beaver Island will be the site of a major Great Lakes basin initiative to bring interested island parties together at the 2009 Great Lakes Islands Symposium. Great Lakes islands are significant because they are home to species that are found in no other places in the world. Understanding this uniqueness, threats to islands, necessary protection measures, and setting up a framework for continued island alliance building will be the focus of this week-end conference. The dates for the event are August 28-30th and will be held at CMU’s Biological Station.
During the winter, board members of the Beaver Island Association along with Mark Breederland from Michigan Sea Grant, Dr. Karen Vigmostad from the Great Lakes Islands Collaborative, and Dr. Jim Gillingham from Central Michigan University, have been putting the finishing touches on this rare opportunity to bring stakeholders, researchers, and policy makers to one of the Great Lakes most biologically significant islands, Beaver Island. For the first time, based on new data, Priority Island Conservation Areas will be presented. The speakers have an impressive record on island centered best practices and research. These individuals will be discussing strategies using land trusts, conservancies, and sovereign nation attempts to protecting our biologically unique islands. In addition, a Call for Posters will invite individuals to share research or projects involving island conservation that enhance our understanding of island ecosystems within the Great Lakes basin. Simon Otto from the Chippewa-Ottawa tribes will regale the audience with First Nation stories from our region. Tours will be offered throughout several days to allow participants to view first hand Beaver Island’s inland lakes, marshes and other natural feature areas. Evening activities will lend themselves to fun island inspired experiences and networking. Obviously, this is an ambitious undertaking and the Beaver Island Association continues to secure funding for this very important event and sponsorship is being pursued from environmental agencies.