Download a PDF of the agenda here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Exhibitor Set-Up
French Room, Drake Room, and mezzanine level

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

7:30a – 10:00a
Exhibitor Set-Up (7:30 a.m. – 9:30a.m. only)
French Room, Drake Room, and mezzanine level
9:45a – 10:30a
Opening Remarks and Welcome to Chicago
Gold Coast Room
Todd Ambs, Campaign Director, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition
Lynn McClure, Midwest Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association
Mike Shriberg, Great Lakes Regional Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation
Kristy Meyer, Managing Director of Agricultural, Health, and Clean Water Programs, Ohio Environmental Council

10:30a – 10:45a
French Room

10:45a – 11:45a
Breakout Sessions

1. Restoring Diversity in the Indiana Dunes
Parkside Room
The Indiana dunes are home to unique, diverse, and globally rare habitats. However, the diversity of the dunes is threatened by invasive species, fragmentation and other threats. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Save the Dunes staff will discuss efforts to maintain and restore these exceptional habitats and plan for the future.

Daniel Mason, Ph.D., Wetland Scientist, Botanist at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Gia Wagner, Natural Resources Branch Chief, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Cathy Martin, Parks Program Coordinator, Save the Dunes


2. Prioritizing Barrier Removal Projects for Fish
Superior Room
Are you interested in increasing spawning habitat for fish in Great Lakes tributaries? Learn to use a free website to identify which dams and road culverts are a problem for migratory fish in your area. We will also discuss how fish have used Wisconsin’s Duck Creek, following dam removals.

Allison Moody, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin

Solomon David, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research, Shedd Aquarium and the Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin


3. Managed Grazing: Agriculture’s Powerful Restoration Tool
Michigan Room
Agriculture done well may offer our best hope for restoring water resources in the Great Lakes region. Learn more about managed grazing; the ecological, economic, and social benefits of establishing more grazing farms in rural communities; and how environmentally conscious farmers are training the next generation through Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship.

Joseph Tomandl, III, Executive Director, Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship


4. Investigating Migration Using Radar and Acoustics
Huron Room
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Avian Radar Project has studied bird and bat migration along the Great Lakes shorelines using radar and acoustics. Their project has gathered data supporting the protection of the shoreline area from development by wind turbines and will show examples of data that has successfully promoted policy changes in the Great Lakes region.

Jeff Gosse, Regional Energy Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ecological Services Region 3


5. Great Lakes Advocacy: Using Social Media Effectively
Erie Room
Today, more than 90 percent of Congress is on Twitter and they aren’t just passively enrolled: several studies show their opinions are being changed by what they see on social media. We will discuss key aspects of successful advocacy campaigns advanced on social media with plenty of time for questions.

Anna Brunner, Communications Coordinator, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition

Andrew Slade, Great Lakes Program Director, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

11:45a – 12:00p
French Room

12:00p – 2:15p
Joint Lunch (plated lunch)
Gold Coast Room
This is a pre-registered event, not included in conference registration. Tickets available at the registration desk and will be sold on a first come, first served basis for $75.

Keynote Speaker: Chris Adamo, Chief of Staff, White House Council on Environmental Quality

2:15p – 2:30p
French Room

2:30p – 3:30p
Breakout Sessions

1. Urban Green Infrastructure: Barriers and Opportunities
Parkside Room
Participants in a research collaboration involving community partners, city agencies, and an interdisciplinary team of scientists will illustrate an innovative approach to implementing green infrastructure in Great Lakes cities as they discuss synergies between stormwater management and vacant property demolitions in Detroit, Michigan.

Moderator: Shawn McElmurry, Associate Professor, Wayne State University

Greg Holman, Data and Assets Manager, Detroit Land Bank Authority

Khalil Ligon, Southeast Michigan Outreach Coordinator, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Valerie Strassberg, Urban Conservation Director, The Nature Conservancy


2. Science-based Restoration of Green Bay
Superior Room
Restoration of the Green Bay ecosystem represents a major challenge for watershed management. Our discussion will focus on developing successful restoration strategies that will require scientifically informed models, clear communication of the problems and potential solutions, and wide-spread participation of all economic sectors.

Moderator: Val Klump, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Kevin Fermanich, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Steve Galarneau, Director, Office of the Great Lakes, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


3. Wetland Restoration Planning in the Calumet River
Michigan Room
A collaborative conservation planning effort is underway to create a multi-site management plan that describes the size and number of wetlands needed to benefit marsh birds in the Calumet River watershed.  Restoring fragmented sites in a region impacted by industry and involving multiple landowners emphasizes the need for this collaborative approach.

Chip O’Leary, Senior Ecologist, Forest Preserves of Cook County
Nathaniel Miller, Conservation Director, Audubon Chicago Region

Gary Sullivan, Senior Ecologist, The Wetlands Initiative


4. Mobilizing action to reduce PAH loadings
Huron Room
While Great Lakes programs have treated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, as legacy pollutants, there are active sources which create new areas of contamination or recontaminate restored ones. Coal tar pavement sealcoats are a major active source in communities around the region, but a recent Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project demonstrated how grassroots campaigns can reduce sealcoat PAH loadings.

Al Innes, Safer Product Chemistry Coordinator, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Cheryl Kallio, Associate Director, Freshwater Future
Rebecca Esselman, Watershed Planner, Huron River Watershed Council


5. Lawrence Belugas in the Great Lakes!
Erie Room

The St. Lawrence River belugas story provide a powerful and inspiring example of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem connectivity and the challenges to navigate in an ever-changing world. This presentation explores how telling stories of iconic compelling species such as beluga can help to heal our waters.

Robert Michaud, Scientific Director and Beluga Project Coordinator, Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals

Aislinn Gauchay, Assistant Director, Great Lakes and Sustainability, Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research at John G. Shedd Aquarium

3:30p – 3:45p
French Room

3:45p – 4:45p
Breakout Sessions


1. Solving a Great Binational Challenge: Lake Erie Algal Blooms
Parkside Room
Saved from a toxic soup of nutrients and other runoff in the 1970’s, Lake Erie is again ailing due to nutrients feeding harmful algal blooms.  Join us for a briefing on algae and nutrient issues in Lake Erie and steps needed to bring this great lake back from the brink.

Jill M. Ryan, Executive Director, Freshwater Future

Lindsay Telfer, Director, Canadian Freshwater Alliance

Kristy Meyer, Managing Director of Agricultural, Health & Clean Water Programs, Ohio Environmental Council

Michael Murray, Staff Scientist, National Wildlife Federation


2. Restoring the Lower Black River Watershed
Superior Room
Participants in this workshop will learn about restoration techniques, including fish shelves, stream bank “build-outs,” and invasive species removal on an urban industrial river and economic revitalization for a city turning its industrial past into an ecotourism future.

Moderator: Russ Gibson, Non-Point Source Program Manager, Ohio EPA

Kathryn Hoffmann, Stormwater Manager, City of Lorain

Lyn Ickes, Watershed Specialist, Lorain County

Kristen Risch, Senior Scientist, Coldwater Consulting


3. Financial Arguments for Water Conservation & Green Infrastructure
Michigan Room
Referring to concrete examples on the Canadian and U.S. sides of the Great Lakes Basin, we will help community activists learn how to use financial arguments to persuade their municipalities to implement water conservation/efficiency and green infrastructure programs as core components of their water supply, stormwater management, and sewage handling systems.

Moderator: John Jackson, Project Manager, Greater Lakes: Reconnecting the Great Lakes Water Cycle

William Christiansen, Program Planner, Alliance for Water Efficiency

Jim Ridgway, Vice-President, Environmental Consulting & Technology

Melissa Soline, Program Manager, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative


4. Bio-mimicking Wetland Habitat in Industrial Estuaries
Huron Room
The Milwaukee River Estuary no longer supports a healthy aquatic/riparian habitat necessary to fish lifecycles. A local partnership focused on bio-mimicking wetlands used Floating Island technology to provide food and refuge as fish migrate. Learn about the fishery, floating islands, and recent installations.

Mike Marek, Restoration Ecologist & Landscape Designer, Marek Landscaping, LLC


5. Shifting Sands: An Indiana Dunes Documentary
Erie Room
One of the ways that people learn about and connect with their world is through meaningful stories. This workshop will showcase a preview of a documentary, “Shifting Sands,” that tells the story of the struggle to protect the Indiana dunes and the ever-changing relationship between conservationists, businesses and communities in the region.

Nicole Barker, Executive Director, Save the Dunes

Lee Botts, Environmentalist

Patty Wisniewski, Documentarian


6:00p – 9:00p
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Music provided by Mar Caribe
Beer donated by Lake Effect Brewing Company

This is a pre-registered event. Conference attendees are automatically registered. Tickets are available at the registration desk and at the museum and will be sold on a first come, first served basis for $50 for people not registered for the conference.

Chicago Trolleys will be leaving the Drake Hotel (Oak Street Location), starting at 5:45 p.m. and running continuously until 9:30 p.m.



Wednesday, September 30, 2015


7:30a – 8:35a
Issues Breakfast
Drake Room
New this year, we will have a number of tables set aside where groups can discuss Great Lakes restoration issues. Look for the table that interests you and join the discussion, or create your own and host a meeting. Issue tables are optional, breakfast is available for all.


8:35a – 8:45a
Announcements, Sponsor Recognition
Gold Coast Room

8:45a – 9:00a
French Room

9:00a – 10:00a
Breakout Sessions

1. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Promise: Engaging the Region for Swimmable, Fishable, and Drinkable Great Lakes
Parkside Room
Once described as the North Star guiding binational Great Lakes policy, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) was updated in 2012.  How are its innovative new features working?  How does it compare to public views synthesized in 2006? Join this session to explore the agreement’s potential to help the Lakes.

Joel Brammeier, President, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Kathryn Buckner, President, Council of Great Lakes Industries

Dereth Glance, Commissioner, International Joint Commission

John Jackson, Project Manager, Greater Lakes: Reconnecting the Great Lakes Water Cycle

2. Pollution impacts from Urban Sewer Infrastructure
Superior Room
Recent work in Milwaukee will be presented as a case study to demonstrate the advantages of using alternative indicators to track sewage inputs to watersheds and nearshore waters, and how technology, monitoring and mapping, and TMDL implementation can address the problem from source identification to remediation.

Moderator: Sandra McLellan, Professor and Senior Scientist, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences

Steve Corsi, Research Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey Wisconsin Water Science Center

Cheryl Nenn, Riverkeeper, Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Kim Siemens, Water Resources Engineer, CDM-Smith


3. Northwest Indiana Restoration: River, Stream and Wetland Restoration in the Lake Michigan Watershed
Michigan Room
Northwest Indiana is in transition as major restoration efforts proceed to restore the original biodiversity and improve quality of life.  Northwest Indiana contains some of the highest biodiversity in the country and also some of the highest level of industrialization.  This presentation will focus on efforts to restore rivers, streams and wetlands in this conflicting environment and the challenges faced while doing so.  Lessons learned will also be discussed.

Greg Quartucci, Senior Ecologist, Cardno

Tony St Aubin, Regional Manager, Cardno

Ryan Allison, Senior Project Manager, Cardno

John Richardson, Vice President, Cardno


4. The Restoration Benefits of Conservation Easements
Huron Room
Conservation easements along riparian corridors, coastlines and wetlands provide many benefits to the health of the Great Lakes.  This workshop will explore how land trusts protect the Great Lakes through conservation easements, an efficient and cost effective tool.  The workshop will summarize the benefits from three Great Lakes projects.

Moderator: Ivan J Hack Jr, Headwaters Chapter President Izaak Walton League of America

Mike Carlson, External Relations Director, Gathering Waters

Joy Mulinex, Director of Government Relations, Western Reserve Land Conservancy

Glen Chown, Executive Director, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy

10:00a – 10:15a
French Room

10:15a – 11:15a
Breakout Sessions

1. Environmental Justice: Busted Myths & Burgeoning Solutions
Parkside Room
From social unrest, civil rights and policy outcomes to politics, public education, water shutoffs and affordability, this robust, honest and straight-forward workshop makes the connection between environmental justice in urban centers situated along waterways and every-day, on-the-ground issues that inform emerging community engagement trends, best practices and solutions.

Moderator: Simone Lightfoot, Regional Urban Initiatives, National Wildlife Federation

Ernest Coverson, Regional Director, Amnesty International

Mary Mulligan, Brownfields Specialist, Office of Environmental Affairs, City of Gary, Ind.

Kim Wasserman-Nieto, Organizing and Strategy Director, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization


2. Strategic Conservation in Saginaw Bay
Superior Room
Land use significantly impacts Saginaw Bay water quality. Despite significant investments to reduce nutrient inputs, we lack an understanding of the impacts of land based conservation actions on the Bay and an overarching strategy to guide and evaluate restoration. This session features a project that helps to fill these gaps.

David Karpovich, H. H. Dow Chair and Professor of Chemistry, Saginaw Valley State University

Scott Sowa, Director of Science, The Nature Conservancy

Doug Pearsall, Senior Conservation Scientist, The Nature Conservancy

Derek Schlea, Project Engineer, LimnoTech

Bretton Joldersma, Lake Huron Coordinator, Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality


3. Oil and water: An update
Michigan Room
What’s up with potential crude oil shipping on the Great Lakes? Get updates on related policy initiatives and permitting, then join an initial brainstorming for a campaign to address issues raised by crude oil shipping on the Great Lakes.

Andrew Slade, Great Lakes Program Director, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Lyman Welch, Legal Director, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director, For Love of Water

Thomas Crane, Deputy Director, Great Lakes Commission


4. Bird Conservation in the Great Lakes
Huron Room
The growing demand for wind energy and coastal development as well as climate change are threatening the future of Great Lakes migratory birds. Join the conversation in how we ensure our iconic lakes continue to provide refuge for these weary travelers.

Chris Canfield, Vice President, National Audubon Society, Gulf Coast and Mississippi Flyway

Rebeccah Sanders, Vice President and Executive Director, Audubon Chicago Region

Nathaniel Miller, Conservation Director, Audubon Chicago Region

11:15a – 11:30a
French Room

11:30a – 1:00p
Lunch and Plenary (plated lunch)
Great Rivers Chicago: A Comprehensive Plan
Gold Coast Room
The Great Rivers Chicago project brings together every stakeholder who uses or wishes to utilize the riverfronts of the City of Chicago for a comprehensive vision. The challenges and goals of this project are laid out for interested parties to glimpse into the future of Chicago’s overlooked assets.

Josh Ellis, Program Director, Metropolitan Planning Council

Kim Wasserman-Nieto, Organizing and Strategy Director, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

Carol Ross Barney, Ross Barney Architects

Paul Ozinga, Ozinga Materials

Mike Kelly, Chicago Parks District

1:00p – 1:15p
French Room

1:15p – 2:15p
Breakout Session

1. A Complicated Connection – Re-envisioning the Chicago Area Waterway System
Parkside Room

This panel explores the local challenges and opportunities for achieving a healthy, thriving Chicago area waterway system. Addressing these issues is critical to solving the aquatic invasive species problem. Panelists will speak about maritime transportation trends, clean water jobs and infrastructure investment, and ongoing efforts to improve water quality throughout the waterway system. Participants will discuss how to solve the aquatic invasive species problem while improving the waterway system and providing local and regional benefits. There will be a field trip related to this session: “Chicago River Boat Tour and Discussion.” Those interested should sign up for the tour when registering.

Joel Brammeier, President, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Frank Manzo, IV, Policy Director, Illinois Economic and Policy Institute

Erika Witzke, Freight, Transportation, and Policy Consultant, Cambridge Systematics, Inc.

Debra Shore, Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District


2. Public Private Partnerships for Wetland Restoration
Superior Room
Important programs for restoring Great Lakes wetlands, particularly in agricultural watersheds, are voluntary public-private partnerships. Yet little is known about their ecological, social, and economic benefits. The session features a project that helps fill these gaps and highlights key findings relevant to wetland restoration public-private partnership programs throughout the region.

Tom Langen, Professor, Department of Biology, Clarkson University


Gildo Tori, Public Policy Director, Great Lakes/Atlantic Region, Ducks Unlimited

3. Getting to Ag Water Quality Solutions
Michigan Room
Increasingly intensive row crop production has created some of our most intractable water challenges. Too often we settle for “making progress” with no real solution in sight. What strategies are capable of reaching our water quality goals? How can we develop smart, next generation agricultural systems that protect our water?

Steve Morse, Executive Director, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Shawn Schottler, Senior Scientist, Science Museum of Minnesota

David Mulla, Professor and W.E. Larson Chair for Soil and Water Resources, Department of Soil, Water & Climate, University of Minnesota


4. Multifunctional Urban Stream Restoration Design
Huron Room
To secure the sustainable use of water resources along North America’s inland coast, urban streams flowing into the Great Lakes must be restored.  Stream restoration research has yielded practical techniques and design methods that help to solve this problem.  These tools will be presented and in this practical, hands-on session.

Michael Stanley Gallisdorfer, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography, University at Buffalo

2:30p – 5:30p
Field Trips

This is a pre-registered event. Tickets are available at the registration desk on a first come, first served basis for $10. Chicago Trolleys will be leaving from the Oak Street entrance to the Drake Hotel. We encourage everyone to dress for the weather and the nature of the field trip. Trolleys will return around 5:30, but rush hour may delay the time.
-Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at work in Chicago Parks
-Honey Bees to Belugas: Great Lakes Conservation through Sustainability Initiatives at Shedd Aquarium
-Chicago River Boat Tour and Discussion
-New Technology and Jobs at the World’s Largest Wastewater Plant SOLD OUT

6:00p – 9:00p
Dinner in the City
Everyone is on their own for dinner. The registration desk will have a list of area restaurants.


Thursday, October 1, 2015


8:00a – 9:00a
Continental Breakfast
Drake Room

8:50a – 9:00a
Announcements, Sponsor Recognition
Gold Coast Room

9:00a – 9:15a
French Room

9:15a – 10:15a
Breakout Sessions

1. Private Financing, Public-Private Partnerships, and Environmental Restoration
Parkside Room
Focused on the themes of private financing of ecological restoration projects and public-private partnerships, public and private sector representatives from a $100 million partnership in Maryland’s Prince George’s county, as well as representatives from White House’s Water Infrastructure Finance Center, American Rivers, and ECT, will discuss the promises and challenges of public-private partnerships.

Moderator: Dr. Sanjiv Sinha, Vice President, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.

James T. Gebhardt, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Administrator for Water Finance, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Gary Belan, Senior Director, American Rivers

Adam Ortiz, Director, Department of the Environment, Prince George’s County, Md.

Greg Cannito, Managing Director, Corvias Solutions


2. Wisconsin’s Phosphorus Rule: Planning to Implement in the Lower Fox River
Superior Room
This panel discusses successful efforts to provide communication and technical tools that increase implementation of conservation practices; strengthen social capital among landowners in the watershed; and involve landowners in watershed decision making.

Moderator: Todd Brennan, Watershed Project Manager, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Olga Lyandres, Research Manager, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Greg Baneck, County Conservationist, Outagamie County Land Conservation Department

Jeff Smudde, Watershed Programs Manager, NEW Water (invited)



3. Aquatic Nuisance Species Electric Dispersal Barriers
Michigan Room
Electric dispersal barriers are being used to stop the advance of invasive fishes, particularly bighead and silver carp, from the Illinois River into Lake Michigan.  This presentation discusses the implementation of a demonstration barrier in 2002 to the ongoing construction of a third permanent barrier expected to go online in 2017.

Matthew Shanks, Fisheries Biologist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Chicago District


4. Communicating About Water to Engage Wider Audiences
Huron Room
This workshop teaches environmental professionals and community organizers how to communicate more effectively about water in the Great Lakes region, and expand their reach and inspire action amongst their target audiences. Attendees will receive a toolkit designed by the Wisconsin Academy’s Waters of Wisconsin Leadership Network as a resource for ongoing communications activities.

Jane Elder, Executive Director, Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters

Meredith Keller, Environmental Initiatives Director, Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters

10:15a – 10:30a
French Room

10:30a – 11:45a
Keeping the Public at the Forefront of Great Lakes Restoration Work
Gold Coast Room
Over the last decade, Great Lakes advocates have made great strides to secure funding to restore the Great Lakes – in large part due to the commitment to engage the public in the development, implementation and monitoring of the plans to restore the lakes. This panel will explore how that commitment to public involvement is proceeding. What steps are being contemplated to engage people as critical plans like the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the second five year Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan are implemented? How do we make sure that the input of the diverse stakeholders who care deeply about these waters is heard, engaged and valued as restoration work proceeds? How do we ensure that the voices of at-risk and under-served communities are heard?

Moderator:  David Ullrich, Executive Director, Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

Chris Korleski, Director, Great Lakes National Program Office, Environmental Protection Agency

Kathryn Buckner, Executive Director, Council of Great Lakes Industries

Dereth Glance, Commissioner, International Joint Commission

Jill Ryan, Executive Director, Freshwater Future


Conference Closing