The International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum took place March 10-11, 2021 and, for the very first time, was offered virtually.  There were 180 people in attendance for the day and a half symposium and, as is always the case, the speakers did not disappoint.

We were honored to have the Forum officially opened with a prayer and ceremony honoring Nibi (water) by Priscilla Simard and Mona Gordon, both whom are Knowledge Keepers with the Women’s Council of Grand Council Treaty #3.  Their very thoughtful words, reflecting on the need to work together to respect and protect Nibi in this basin, was the perfect way to set the foundation for the discussions to follow.

The Forum program featured 21 oral presentations over the day and a half.  Highlights included:

  • A plenary session on Day 1 offered by Dr. Gretchen Hanson (University of Minnesota) to highlight 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 session on Day 2 by Daniel Rokitnicki-Wojcik from Environment and Climate Change Canada to provide an update on their 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; and
  • a variety of presentations on topics of water governance, nutrients, aquatic invasive species, regulation and monitoring.

The proceedings from the Forum are posted at www.lowwsf.com/forum-proceedings.