PennFuture Blog

Our Perspectives on the Latest Issues

How Can You Protect Lake Erie?

by Annie Regan, Senior Program Manager

On Saturday, Sept. 9, Erie residents gathered at Perry Monument Pavilion at Presque Isle State Park to discuss how to save a beloved body of water: Lake Erie.

PennFuture’s Save Our Lake Erie event included everyone from Erie natives to young professionals who just moved to the area. The crowd was eager to learn about the environmental factors contributing to the degradation of Lake Erie and what they could do to alleviate these problems.

“Lake Erie used to be the fishing capital in the United States, and now we’ve found some fish species are endangered. Not only is Lake Erie a place for us to recreate, it’s a place for us to protect. We must ask our state representatives to protect it for future generations,” said Save Our Native Species (S.O.N.S.) of Lake Erie Fishing Club President, Jerry Skrypzak.

Several speakers addressed the crowd, including Jerry and myself, who spoke about an array of issues that need local, state, and national attention. 

We learned that bad policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard needs reforming to decrease the amount of ethanol used in gasoline, which would decrease the phosphorous used in corn production, and therefore decrease the agricultural runoff into Lake Erie causing the toxic, green algal blooms. 

We also learned from Steve Porter of NW Page that climate change is increasing the temperatures of our bodies of water, including Lake Erie, which makes it easier for these algal blooms to stay in the water even longer, exacerbating this environmental problem, hurting our drinking water and potentially harming thousands of marine life.

Lastly, Anna McCartney of the Pennsylvania Sea Grant spoke about the harmful effects that microbeads have on the fish within Lake Erie. Scientists have proven that toxic chemicals such as PAHs and PCBs can damage DNA and cause neurological damage in aquatic animals. With the use of microbeads in personal care products becoming more popular, it’s more than likely that they will make its way into Lake Erie.

All of this can be extremely overwhelming for one person to digest. How can one person begin to tackle all of these issues that need collective action? I decided to break it down to an action list by issue:

Reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard: 

  • PennFuture will meet with Senators Casey and Toomey’s Erie office to talk about ways to reform this legislation. You can email me at if you’re interested in attending!
  • We are looking for individuals to submit letters to the editor about this issue to educate the public. Consider writing a letter to your local paper!

Climate Change: 

Plastic Pollution:

As someone who would vacation each year to the Lake Erie area with my family, I’m willing to dedicate some time to make sure the beauty and health of this body of water is protected. Will you help us protect it, too?

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