As a part of the ongoing Crossroads of Ideas Series, a forum on the future of the Great Lakes was held at the University of Wisconsin Discovery Building Tuesday evening.

James Hurley, director of the UW Aquatic Sciences Center, discussed challenges that the Great Lakes may face in the near future.

Lake Michigan is currently faced with mussel invasions that take over and wipe out the habitat of other organisms in the lake. According to Hurley, there are over 900 trillion Quagga Mussels in Lake Michigan.

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“[Quagga Mussels] don’t need hard surfaces, they can grow just about anywhere,” Hurley said.

According to Hurley, increasing storm frequencies and intensities are another challenge faced by the Great Lakes region.

Hurley said researchers have learned past storms happened in Wisconsin, particularly the effects of the extreme flooding of the Saxon Harbor in Saxon, Wisconsin. To avoid further devastating damage, we need to anticipate the change, mostly through the route of research.

“We also have stakeholders, citizens of Wisconsin help us decide what we want to use and what we should be doing for research. They help guide our university-based research,” Hurley said.

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Research on the Great Lakes is being carried out at UW, Hurley said. Research findings are then used to solve real-life problems faced by various stakeholders and citizens across the state of Wisconsin.

While there have been past efforts made to protect the Great Lakes, Hurley believes there is much left to be accomplished.

“I think there is a lot of hope. I think there’s also a lot of opportunity for research,” Hurley said.