Looking over an open wetland field of grasses and water with a few white great egrets enjoying the new habitat.
TNC Wetland Restoration Blausey Tract at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge © TNC

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Nature Conservancy Pushes for Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions Following NOAA HAB Forecast

Nature-based solutions will continue to play a key role in long-term water quality improvements

Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 2021 harmful algal bloom forecast for Lake Erie.

The following statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to Bill Stanley, Ohio State Director for The Nature Conservancy:

“Today NOAA announced its harmful algal bloom (HAB) forecast for 2021: a smaller than average bloom and a severity index of less than 6. What is not readily apparent in the numeric value of the forecast are the drivers that cause some years to produce higher blooms and some years less. The forecast is created based on the amount of phosphorus loading in the spring, between March and July, from the Maumee River. In years where seasonal rainfall is lower than average, like this year, we can usually expect a lighter bloom year.

That correlation might seem obvious today, but only in recent years has research shown that a handful of the largest rain events carry most of the phosphorus into the lake. That means that combining practices that help keep nutrients in the soil along with the largescale restoration of natural infrastructure like wetlands, stream corridors, and floodplains, which together slow down and store water, are a critical part of the suite of solutions needed to help regulate the amount of water that flows into the lake during significant rain events.

The Nature Conservancy continues to champion these nature-based solutions, from working with agricultural partners to increase soil health, nutrient and water management practices to identifying new opportunities for restoring wetlands and floodplains to advocating for funding for the H2Ohio program (in both the state budget process and over the long term). Addressing HABs in Lake Erie and throughout the state is a multi-faceted challenge that requires scalable and practical solutions. TNC is invested in and continues to work with all partners on a variety of strategies to meet nutrient reduction goals. We know how powerful a tool nature can be—let’s maximize its ability to grow crops, support wildlife, and produce clean water simultaneously.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.