Caring for Our Coast
calm, crisp afternoon, the surface of Lake Erie mirrors the sky and the glint of the sun.
Deeper down, below the surface, this great lake also mirrors the activities on the land
surrounding it. Although the water appears placid, the stresses on the lake are
tremendous. Lake Eries drainage basin, which includes surrounding land in the United
States as well as Canada, supports more than 11 million people, making it one of the most
heavily populated freshwater lakes in the world. As a consequence of its popularity, the
watershed for Lake Erie is heavily developed, with more than 70 percent of the land used
for agricultural, industrial or residential uses.
a relatively shallow lake, winds can whip Erie into a frenzy of crashing waves. Wind and
water erosion are natural, inevitable processes. Their potential to become damaging
depends on the character of the shoreline. Wetlands and well- established beaches can bear
much of the impact without severe consequences. When those natural barriers are gone,
though, shoreline structures and the shoreline itself are vulnerable to erosion.
Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Coastal Priority Planning Team is working to
reverse some of the problems caused by the demands on the lake. A first step toward
getting a handle on these problems is to compile information about the land, water, plant
and animal resources in a digital format in the Lake Erie Geographic Information System.
Inventory information and technical assistance from ODNR staff are available to anyone
considering development on the coast. ODNR has identified Coastal Erosion Areas that are
most vulnerable to erosion by wave action, and are likely to be lost within 30 years
without protection from erosion. Construction of new permanent structures or additions to
existing structures in designated Coastal Erosion Areas now requires a permit to ensure
the use of effective measures to reduce or control shoreline erosion.
inland, ODNR is stepping up efforts to involve individuals and citizen groups in caring
for the streams that feed into Lake Erie and ultimately impact the quality of the lake.
Urban stream improvement projects in Cuyahoga, Medina, Geauga, Lake, Erie and Summit
counties address non-point sources of pollution from urban runoff tainted by residential
yard waste, road and parking lot salts and residues, and other storm sewer pollutants.
Coastal Management Program within ODNR participates in the Coastal Priority Teams
activities in addition to providing information, technical assistance and grant money to
support initiatives by local governments, educational institutions and nonprofit
organizations to protect and enhance Ohios Lake Erie coastal resources. Such
initiatives include waterfront revitalization, wetland restoration and habitat enhancement
projects, as well as protection of cultural and historic resources and improved public
access to the lake.
state parks support the work of the Coastal Team and play a lead role along the Lake Erie
shoreline as places where nature is already protected, and where people flock to enjoy it.
Ohio State Parks staff members are doing their part through public education
efforts, special events, activities and naturalist programs with coastal themes. After
all, a well-informed public is the greatest hope for the lakes continued good