Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/9/2012 (1715 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The next phase of the fight to save the Experimental Lakes Area took shape Sunday, as supporters gathered at The Forks to protest cuts to the long-standing program.
Dozens of researchers and their allies rallied to talk about the science at stake if the government goes through with its plan to shutter the federally funded ELA program, which encompasses 58 pristine lakes in northwestern Ontario, in March 2013.
"The reason we were there is to find things out that were useful to the Canadian public," said Ray Hesslein, a geochemist who first arrived at the ELA as a grad student in 1971 and retired in 2009. "It was a public service, and staff took that very seriously."
To get that message across, Hesslein and other ELA supporters took to the podium, while families were invited to look at lake plankton through microscopes and check out some of the specialized equipment in use at the lakes.
NDP MP Niki Ashton and Liberal MP Jon Gerrard stepped up to call for the program to be saved. Two of Gerrard's children studied at the lakes in university. "I've seen first-hand how amazing it can be," he said. "ELA has nurtured so many who are making a difference around the world."
Over more than four decades, data gathered from the lakes has shed light on the health of freshwater lakes, including how environmental pollution can threaten ecosystems. Scientists at the ELA have studied issues such as mercury contamination and how phosphates spur the spread of blue-green algae, which chokes ecosystems and can pose a health risk to humans.
Scientists said the ELA facility is unique because it helps researchers trace the health of lakes over long time periods. "When you're trying to sort out challenges to species like the lake trout, that live 20 to 40 years... without a long-term record, you just can't get an insight into that," Hesslein said.