Welcome to the Western Lake Erie Basin Partnership

All Hands on Deck

By Amy Gilhouse MAEAP Technician

Running a charter boat and baling hay have some things in common, both require not just one person, but a team to get productive results. The Captain has to be knowledgeable about the fish’s habits, lake currents, water depths and wind direction. The mate has to be on his feet and moving to keep the lines rigged and be willing to make changes in baits and line depending on what and how the fish are hitting on any given day.

Hay harvesting is weather driven and takes knowledge of heat degree-days for a farmer to know just when to plant, cut, turn and bale. It takes some strong farm hands that will pick up the bales from the field and load them just so with an aim to fit the most amount of bales into the wagon without any of them coming off in the road.

It’s not only teamwork, it’s “All hands on Deck”. When the fish are biting or when the hay is ready to harvest, each member of the team must be ready to do their part, without argument, without hesitation, to take some directives, to get the job done. Without this attention to the process, all sorts of chaos can result.

MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) is a voluntary program that assists Michigan producers in identifying and remediating on farm risks to water resources should such risks exist. MAEAP verification is a way for farms to prove that they are in compliance with state and federal laws that protect our water resources.

Since 2011, Michigan Conservation Districts MAEAP program has collaborated with Bay Sail to take Agricultural Leaders and partners on Tall Ship sails in the SaginawBay and on the DetroitRiver. This year our local Farm Bureau and The Andersons of Maumee are partnering with MAEAP to bring the Appledore IV Tall ship into Lake Erie.

Last year Lenawee Conservation District partnered with Lenawee Farm Bureau MAEAP highlights grant to take 33 participants back to Stone Lab to learn the Science behind the Harmful Algae Blooms. This summer Lenawee Conservation Districts MAEAP program will be taking 30 more participants to the Lake ErieIslands to get a first hand look for themselves at the issues of Lake Erie.

Your not a fisherman and you don’t live near Lake Erie, so why all this fuss about Lake Erie you ask?

The River Raisin Watershed drains waters into Lake Erie at the Eastern edge of MonroeCounty. The watershed is home to approximately 178,577 people, covers 3,000 miles of man-made drainage and is known to be 65% agricultural , 11% urban. While predominantly covering LenaweeCounty, portions of the watershed receive drainage from Washtenaw, Jackson, Hillsdale and MonroeCounty. While only a small band of the Watershed runs right up to the MonroeHarbor, the  RRW watershed is a part of a larger watershed known as the WLEB or  WesternLake ErieBasin.   

Known as the Walleye capital of the World, Lake Erie boasts a multi billion-dollar recreation industry, provides essential drinking water for millions of people and provides critical habitat for fish and wildlife.  With increasing storm events that bring nutrient loading into the lake, harmful algae blooms during warm summer and fall months are presenting health risks to fish, wildlife and humans.  

In the 1970s and ’80s, HAB’s were caused by excess sewage going into the lake, since those days upgrades have been made to lessen impacts from water treatment facilities surrounding the lake. Science is proving that current issues of the lake are complex but possible to remediate.  During the drought of 2012, reduction of drainage from the watershed resulted in less algae and provided an opportunity for scientist to see that if we can reduce nutrients going into the lake we can make a positive impact in the health of the lake.

With millions of people relying on Lake Erie for drinking water, and the potential for human impacts, the need for more conservation programs to be put on the ground has never been greater. Municipalities, Industries and the Agricultural Community are all coming together to help solve the issues of water quality,  The “All Hands on Deck”, approach is certain to make a  positive and lasting difference in the health of the lake.

If you are a Michigan Agricultural Producer and would like more information about the Tall Ship sails or the Lake Erie conference please email Amy Gilhouse at amy.gilhouse@macd.org

For more information about Michigan Conservation Districts, MAEAP, RRW, Lake Erie Algae Blooms or Bay Sail please visit the following links:






Where are you in the watershed?

If a local group has not been identified for a watershed, or if a local group is missing from our list, we would be happy to add them. If you are part of a local organization working to benefit the a watershed within the WLEB area, and are not listed on this site, please contact us at webmaster@wleb.org.


WLEB In the News

Harmful Algal Bloom links:


Report by David & Lucile Packard Foundation on WLEB

Our Water Our Future – Summary of Recommendations Sept 2013 rev

Aimed at providing you with the latest news and information on upcoming projects and events. View the latest Bulletin now.

Public Outreach


Public Outreach is central to the mission of the WLEB. Whether it be through our newsletter, one of our many publications, public meetings, or the Get Involved tips, we want to help you take part in caring for our Western Basin. Learn more today!


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