Conference focuses on St. Joseph River watershed
June 4, 2002
KALAMAZOO -- With more than 3,700 river miles stretching over 14 counties in Michigan and Indiana, the St. Joseph River watershed is a pivotal natural resource that presents a variety of management challenges. Those challenges will be discussed in a bistate conference on the watershed to be held Monday and Tuesday, June 10-11, in South Bend, Ind.
Western Michigan University's Environmental Institute is convening the "State of the St. Joseph River Watershed Conference" at the Century Center Convention Complex, 120 South St. Joseph St. in South Bend. The conference will provide a forum to exchange information on the watershed; discuss issues from pollution and economics to public health and geology; and review programs, policies and institutions responsible for managing the basin.
Participants are expected from federal, state and local organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, Michigan and Indiana environmental management agencies, and nongovernmental groups concerned with the watershed's health.
Located in a highly agricultural area, the St. Joseph River watershed is one of the chief sources of Atrazine and other pesticide pollution of Lake Michigan. A host of other waterways contribute to the river basin, including the Portage River in Kalamazoo County and the Paw Paw, Dowagiac, Elkhart and Prairie Rivers. The watershed extends from Hillsdale County, where several of the headwaters for other large rivers are located, west to Berrien and VanBuren counties in Michigan and south to Indiana's Noble and Kosciusko counties.
WMU's Environmental Institute was approached last year by officials from the EPA Region 5 and the Great Lakes Commission to convene the conference. The Environmental Institute has been instrumental in the study of and clean-up efforts of the Kalamazoo River, which is the nation's largest Superfund site.
Dave Dempsey, policy advisor for the Michigan Environmental Council and author of the book "Ruin and Recovery: Michigan's Rise as a Conservation Leader," will be the conference's keynote speaker at a dinner at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 10. Among the topics Dempsey, a WMU alumnus, will address will be the St. Joseph River watershed as a test case of shared ecosystem management by different political factions in the Great Lakes Basin.
Other conference highlights will be:
The conference is sponsored by WMU, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the MDEQ, IDEM, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Michigan Geological Survey, Friends of the St. Joe River, the St. Joseph River Basin Commission, Michiana Watershed Inc., the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Resources Conservation Service, the Great Lakes Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
For more information, contact Barb Wygant, the conference coordinator, at (269) 387-5870 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Media contact: Marie Lee, 269 387-8400, email@example.com