Maintaining the Long View

Amelia Apfel, reporting for ENSIA:

The Experimental Lakes Area, a network of 58 lakes in northwestern Ontario that has provided a unique outdoor laboratory for long-term ecological research and monitoring since 1968, recently came dangerously close to shutting down.

The ELA has one of the most complete sets of water quality information in the world and a long history of research on topics that are important to the public and policy-makers, including mercury pollution, harmful algal blooms and the impact of aquaculture on native fish populations. The studies are applicable to lakes on every continent.

Even so, the Canadian government announced in 2012 that it would pull the funding that keeps the field station running to save at least $1.5 million a year, part of a massive austerity plan. The ELA shut down briefly in April 2013 and has been open only on a limited basis since May.

One hopes that the lake research community finds a way to make this work.