The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) invited 14 Federal, State, and regional partners to attend the first meeting of a Leadership Group designed to create a comprehensive watershed management partnership and framework for the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) Study on November 7, 2005 in Defiance, Ohio. This is an appropriate location as Defiance is the geographic center of the WLEB watershed.
The WLEB Charter was agreed to on March 29, 2006, (By Laws ) and the signatories agreed to develop a consensus-based Partnership to pursue the following principles:
The Partnership is committed to collaboration and consensus building – sharing resources and knowledge to link land use to water quality, support ongoing efforts and identify new opportunities to enhance and improve the watershed.
The Partnership will apply watershed-based solutions to local problems and apply local solutions to watershed problems -inclusively empowering and building the capacity of local watershed groups and supporting ongoing efforts.
The Partnership is results oriented – it will define the baseline status of the basin, identify and prioritize science based solutions, responsibly support the implementation of innovative and cooperative projects, monitor and evaluate its actions and support an adaptive management approach.
The Partnership will speak with one voice, promote transparency, encourage participation, be responsive, create awareness, educate and inform.
The Partnership will provide the structure necessary to coordinate public and private resources across political boundaries to accelerate achievement of environmental goals and support for local conservation initiatives.
The Leadership Committee for the WLEB Partnership is comprised of senior members of their respective organizations. This group oversees the efforts of an Operational Committee and Coordination Teams in four areas: Project Coordination Team, Outreach/Public Education Coordination Team, Resource Coordination Team, and Research & Data Coordination Team.
The WLEB encompasses 4.9 million acres of land (drained by the Maumee, Portage and Ottawa Rivers), as well as the open waters of Maumee Bay- the region’s gateway to Lake Erie and one of the most biologically diverse, productive and economically important areas of the Great Lakes system.
Western Lake Erie has been recognized for its biodiversity in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also identified the western basin as a “Biodiversity Investment Area.” Its outstanding sport fishery (e.g., walleye, perch, smallmouth bass), coupled with substantial recreational boating and commercial navigation activity, speaks to the economic importance of water-based uses in the basin.
The full potential of the resource, however, is compromised by long standing issues associated with point and nonpoint source pollution including phosphorus loads, excessive algae growth, oxygen depletion, sedimentation and dredging requirements, aquatic invasive species impacts and related concerns.
Learn More about the WLEB