According to Webster, a sentinel is a person or animal who guards a group. Webster needs to add an entity to his list of sentinels. I expect you are not too far away from a most unusual sentinel right now. The sentinels of which I speak are lakes!
Here is the situation. Many of our lakes face significant stresses. How do we respond? Not well, if we lack adequate information about them and their stressors.
DNR Fisheries, working closely with MPCA and a long list of cooperating agencies, local governments, citizens and others, is implementing a plan that will help us better understand how to protect our lakes for the long haul.
It’s called “Sustaining Lakes in a Changing Environment,” SLICE, for short. It is billed as a “working operational research and management plan for conserving Minnesota lake resources while confronting major ecological drivers of change.”
The goal is to gather information that can help us develop a long term strategy to detect changes in lakes and respond accordingly.
SLICE has assigned 24 lakes to be sentinels. They are scattered across all parts of the state to serve as sample sites, lakes from the corn belt and prairie to northeastern Minnesota and everything in between.
What excites me is that the studies are to include gathering information not just from and about the sentinel lakes, but also about their watersheds. Lakes and their futures are at the mercy of events in their watersheds.
There is much more to say about SLICE. Look for more about the sentinel lake story in future blogs, and for a story about the sentinel lake closest to you.