Put-in-Bay, OH Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory hosted more than 130 local and state elected officials and legislators and representatives from nearly 40 organizations during its 19th Legislative Days on Lake Erie August 4 and 5, at Cedar Point and Put-in-Bay. Ohio Sea Grant joined forces with Lake Erie Shores and Islands Visitors Bureau to host and coordinate the event.
The event began with a luncheon at Cedar Point, where co-hosts Ohio Senator Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) and Ohio Representative Dennis Murray (D-Sandusky) spoke about the importance of Lake Erie and Ohio Sea Grant’s and Stone Lab’s accomplishments and introduced the third host, Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee.
"Stone Lab has been a stellar guide to preserving and enhancing the quality of Lake Erie since 1895," Gee said. "Our research and education efforts through Sea Grant and Stone Lab have developed solutions to many of the critical problems and challenges facing Lake Erie and the Great Lakes. As a Land Grant and Sea Grant University, that is our job, and it has created valuable learning opportunities for our students."
Participants discussed the importance of science education and tourism and learned how caring for the environment encourages tourism, which boosts the economy. They also spoke with experts about harmful algal blooms, the dead zone, endangered species, aquatic invasive species like the zebra mussel and Asian carp, and went on a short science cruise on Lake Erie to gain hands-on experience pulling a fish trawl and collecting plankton samples to observe harmful algal blooms.
On Friday morning, tours to Middle Bass, South Bass, and Kelleys islands let participants explore many of Lake Erie’s rare features, including Middle Bass Island State Park, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, and Kelleys Island’s glacial grooves.
"Our hope is that as our elected officials return to Columbus and Washington, D.C. to make decisions, they will bring with them the firsthand experiences and knowledge they gained during their visit to our Great Lake," said Melinda Huntley, Ohio Sea Grant Extension Tourism Program Director. "There’s nothing like a day spent measuring water quality and talking with some of our nation’s top Lake Erie scientists to give our decision makers what they need to make wise decisions and lead change."
A luncheon on South Bass Island where speakers highlighted Ohio tourism brought the event to a close.
"A sustainable environmental commitment really supports economic development because it supports tourism," Murray said. "This event gives us a picture of how recreation plays an important role in the economy."
Wagoner agreed, saying that attracting visitors starts with making people aware of what the state and Lake Erie have to offer. "We hope you come back," he told the participants. "We want to make coming to the islands a regular part of what people do."
Along with Ohio State University, Ohio Sea Grant, and Lake Erie Shores & Islands, sponsors of the event included Cedar Point, Friends of Stone Laboratory, Jet Express, Miller Boat Line, Ohio Tourism Roundtable, The Perry Group, Put-in-Bay Township, Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce, Village of Put-in-Bay, Columbia Gas of Ohio, The Crew’s Nest, Lake County Visitors Bureau, Nationwide Insurance, Ohio Wine Producers, Wholesale Beer & Wine Association of Ohio, and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial.
Located on the 6.5-acre Gibraltar Island in Put-in-Bay harbor, Stone Laboratory is The Ohio State University’s Island Campus on Lake Erie and the education and research facility of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program. The Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 32 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory, visit _ohioseagrant.osu.edu .
Melinda Huntley, Ohio Sea Grant Sustainable Tourism Program Director, 419.366.4391, firstname.lastname@example.org_ .
Larry Fletcher, Lake Erie Shores & Islands West, 800.441.1271 ×-223,email@example.com_ .
Jeffrey Reutter, Ohio Sea Grant, Director, 614.292.4364, firstname.lastname@example.org_ .