The Bay of Quinte is a nearly enclosed bay in Lake Ontario which has been impacted by multiple industrial contaminant events and persistent eutrophication. As a result, it became one of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC) identified and supported by the International Joint Commission (IJC) for remediation. The Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan (RAP) relies on data from Project Quinte, a long-term monitoring program, to set targets, assess the status of beneficial use impairments and evaluate restoration progress. The ability of organizations to communicate relevant and timely scientific research and monitoring to decision-makers has recently emerged as an important issue in the literature. This article explores the issue of communicating research and monitoring information for the purpose of aiding decision-making through a case study of the Bay of Quinte RAP. Research included semi-structured interviews with scientists, regulators and community stakeholders involved with the Bay of Quinte RAP, observational research, document analysis and literature review. Findings indicate that multiple and diverse techniques are used to communicate research and monitoring data to decision-makers. Furthermore, our findings indicate that accurate tracking of trends, valuing high quality monitoring, promoting stakeholder cooperation, collaborating with other groups implementing RAPs and informing management and decision-making are key beneficial outcomes of shared science about the Bay of Quinte. Lessons learned emphasize the importance of administrative support and institutional memory; integration of ecosystem models; consistent long-term monitoring; and public engagement. These lessons are instructive for stakeholders conducting ecosystem restoration, planning or management, particularly those involved in any of the other RAPs ongoing on the Great Lakes.
In 1972 the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) was signed by Canada and the United States, committing both nations to the protection of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Drainage Basin. A subsequent update to the GLWQA expanded the commitments of the agreement to include the restoration and maintenance of “the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem” (GLWQA, 1987), reflecting a shift in ideology from a rational analytic approach to addressing watershed management to an ecosystem approach (Bertram and Reynoldson, 1992; Bulkley et al., 1989; Eflin, 2004). Since 1987, both countries have endeavoured to meet their GLWQA objectives by focusing restoration efforts in 43 Areas of Concern (AOC), where “failure [to meet objectives of the GLWQA] has caused or is likely to cause impairment of beneficial use or of the area's ability to support aquatic life” (GLWQA, 1987). Annex 2 of the GLWQA provides a list of 14 beneficial uses that can reflect the impairment of the chemical, physical or biological integrity of the area in question. Impairment of any of the beneficial uses results in the designation as an AOC. Restoration of impaired beneficial uses is the purpose of the RAP process; delisting as an AOC is the ultimate goal of all RAPs. Designation of each AOC began the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) process, which requires reports to be submitted to the International Joint Commission at the end of each of 3 stages. Stage I is complete when problems in the AOC are defined, Stage II is complete when remedial and regulatory methods are selected to address the defined problems and Stage III is complete when monitoring indicates impaired beneficial uses have been restored. Once a Stage III report is validated by the IJC an AOC can be delisted. To date, four AOCs have been delisted (Severn Sound, Ontario; Collingwood Harbour, Ontario; Wheatley Harbour, Ontario and Oswego River, New York).
Implementation of RAPs rely on multi-stakeholder commitment and perseverance to maintain momentum toward completion. The work to be done is dynamic, interdisciplinary and, at times, visionary in nature and is often achievable only through large scale programs. Such programs are costly and lend themselves to a multi-partnered approach. Keeping stakeholders informed of each other's progress, accomplishments, challenges and discoveries is crucial. The RAP process was described as an experiment in institutional cooperation and contributing toward grassroots ecological democracy (Hartig and Zarull, 1992). Research about RAPs has focused on the influence of an ecological approach on policy development, stakeholder relations and the creation and achievement of objectives. In these studies it is understood that research and monitoring are being conducted and used within the RAPs, but few studies (Hall et al., 2006), have explicitly investigated how scientific research and monitoring is communicated to stakeholders and how they influence RAP progress. This paucity of information on communicating scientific research and monitoring is true of the broader field of environmental planning and management. The ability of organizations to deliver relevant research and monitoring information to decision-makers has recently emerged as an important issue in the literature (Owens, 2005). Research and monitoring information must be relevant, timely and properly communicated to be useful for management (Vaughan et al., 2003). Furthermore, research “needs to be actively delivered, which involves a dialogue with users, as well as changes to programs, outputs, and the design of installations” (Vaughan et al., 2007). Theoretical frameworks for integrating science and decision-making are available in the literature (Tonn et al., 2000). We believe the case study approach is another valuable means of understanding how scientific research and monitoring can be effectively communicated to decision-makers. We carried out a case study of the Bay of Quinte AOC, located in southern Ontario on the northern shore of Lake Ontario (Figure 1). The case study investigated how research, and monitoring information and knowledge are communicated to the stakeholders and people involved in the RAP and what impact this communication had on the RAP process.
The information in this report was gathered through literature review and document analysis, semi-structured interviews and observational research involving participation by the lead author in the 2009 Bay of Quinte Research and Monitoring Forum as a volunteer note-taker and assistant facilitator. The document analysis involved collection of all available documents pertinet to the Bay of Quinte RAP (BQRAP) and specifically Project Quinte (discussed below). Each document was analysed for content which related to the themes of presentation or communication of scientific findings, the making of management decisions and implementation or evaluation of management programs. Seven interviews were conducted with BQRAP stakeholders. Potential interviewees were chosen by means of snowball sampling (Berg, 2001). Scientists, regulators, and community members were interviewed. Interviews were conducted over the phone or in person using a semi-structured technique (Berg, 2001). Core interview questions were derived from the document analysis and a previous study which focused on the role of research and monitoring in the Hamilton Harbour RAP (Hall et al., 2006). Core questions focused on how scientific research and monitoring were communicated to relevant stakeholders including decision-makers, the outcomes associated with the communication and lessons learned by BQRAP stakeholders. The observational research included collecting information at the Bay of Quinte Research and Monitoring Forum on the status of beneficial use impairments (BUIs), progress toward BQRAP work plan deliverables and the nature of networking and communication among stakeholders. Analysis of the information was carried out using a themed analysis approach (Berg, 2001).
Background and context
Bay of Quinte Area of Concern and Remedial Action Plan
The Bay of Quinte is a Z-shaped bay on the north shore of Lake Ontario, approximately 135 kilometres east of Toronto, Canada (Figure 1). The Bay of Quinte AOC encompasses the bay and its watershed which includes 17,315 km2 of land; however, research and implementation programs have been directed primarily at the bay and the lands south of the 401 highway (Bay of Quinte RAP Coordinating Committee [BQRAP CC], 1993), as the bay receives all the water in the watershed, and the use impairments are manifested in the bay. Belleville (population 48,800 in 2006) and Quinte West (population 42,700 in 2006) are the largest urban centres in this area (Statistics Canada, 2006). At the time of designation as an AOC, manufacturing, agriculture, commercial and sport fisheries and tourism were the major industries on the bay. The area also has a history of mining and logging, which have residual effects on the bay to this day (BQRAP CC, 1993). The Bay of Quinte was identified as a “problem area” by the IJC in 1975; this designation was a forerunner to the AOC designation introduced by the IJC in 1987. Ten of the fourteen BUIs outlined in the GLWQA were observed to be impaired at the Bay of Quinte at the outset of the RAP process including: restriction on fish and wildlife consumption; degradation of fish and wildlife populations; degradation of benthos; eutrophication or undesirable algae; restrictions on drinking water consumption or taste and odour problems; restrictions on dredging activities; beach closings; degradation of aesthetics; degradation of phytoplankton population; and loss of fish and wildlife habitat (BQRAP CC, 1990). The cause of the BUIs was attributed to one or more of the following; habitat destruction and ecosystem instability, eutrophication, bacteriological contamination and/or toxic contamination (BQRAP CC, 1993).
The Bay of Quinte RAP process officially began in 1986, although a monitoring program (Project Quinte) had been in place in the bay since 1972 and a phosphorus abatement program for the bay was initiated early in 1978. In 1990, the RAP Stage 1 Report, Environmental Setting and Problem Definition, was issued by the BQRAP Coordination Committee (BQRAP CC) with the help and advice of the BQRAP Public Advisory Committee (PAC) (BQRAP CC, 1993). The BQRAP CC had representatives from Environment Ontario (MOE), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), Environment Canada (EC) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. The PAC had representatives from Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit, Domtar Packaging, Trent Valley Paperboard, Bakelite Thermoset, Ault Foods, Sidney Township, City of Belleville, Town of Picton, Town of Napanee, Belleville and District Fish and Game Club and the Mohawk Bay Trailer Park. The BQRAP CC has since evolved to become the Bay of Quinte Restoration Council (BQRC) and membership has expanded to include representatives from the Department of National Defence, Lower Trent Region Conservation, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Quinte Conservation and Quinte Watershed Cleanup Inc., a community stewardship group. Since 1997, the BQRC has increased local leadership and facilitated implementation of RAP activities. Currently, the BQRC has a RAP implementation coordinating office in place that co-ordinate activities for all RAP stakeholders. A representative from the office coordinates and participates in all BQRC meetings. There are also thematic implementation working groups of the BQRC that meet on an ad-hoc basis to advise the BQRC. The themes of these groups are: biological contaminants; communication and public outreach; fish and wildlife; persistent toxic contaminants; protection, planning and management; and eutrophication.
Research and monitoring at the Bay of Quinte
The Bay of Quinte has been the subject of much research and monitoring since 1972 when Project Quinte was initiated, a multi-agency collaborative monitoring program between Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Great Lakes Laboratory of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (GLLFAS), MOE Kingston and the OMNR Fisheries Assessment Unit at the Glenora Fisheries Research. Project Quinte was developed in response to a recommendation from the IJC for a reduction of phosphorus levels in municipal and industrial waste effluent discharging to Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and their tributaries and to the International Section of the St. Lawrence River (IJC, 1970). The initial phase of Project Quinte (1972–1977) was to collect baseline data to be used to assess the effectiveness of the phosphorus control program that was implemented in the winter of 1978–1979. Phosphorus modeling was also carried out in support of phosphorus management (Minns, 1986). Financial support for Project Quinte has been provided through a combination of DFO resources and funding from Environment Canada's Great Lakes Action Plan funding (GLAP). The Project Quinte sampling has been undertaken every year since 1972 and the data set provides a long-term record of ecosystem response that can be analysed to answer a plethora of research questions. Project Quinte constitutes the majority of scientific research and monitoring being conducted at the Bay of Quinte at present. Some of the DFO research products from Project Quinte include: ecosystem models, fish habitat classification maps, assessment of fish populations, periodic macrophyte assessment, invasive species studies and benthos studies (compiled annually in the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan Monitoring Report [Project Quinte, 2008]). The Project Quinte scientists have also partnered with other researchers from universities and government agencies to conduct research (Crowder and Painter, 1991; Diamond et al., 1996). Project Quinte data comprise most of the annual monitoring reports although numerous other programs have also been conducted on the bay throughout the course of the RAP process.
The reasons limnologists and fisheries scientists from EC, MOE, University of Guelph and Queen's University selected the Bay of Quinte for a multi-year study of ecosystem response to phosphorus reduction programs were: (i) it closely resembled conditions in Lake Erie at the time, (ii) there was significant background fisheries data (Johnson and Hurley, 1986), and (iii) there was an opportunity to synchronize the implementation of phosphorus control at all sewage treatment plants contributing to eutrophication in the bay. The initial objectives of Project Quinte were to compare the ecosystem level effects of phosphorus control at municipal wastewater treatment plants. Each year since 1972, water quality measures and aquatic community samples (e.g. transparency, phosphorus, lower trophic level biomass and production, and fish stocks) have been collected throughout the warmer seasons (May to October). This particular program illustrates the role monitoring plays in adaptive management through tracking and reporting. The definition of adaptive management we used to inform this study was provided by Hall et al. (2006, p. 236–237): “a systematic process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of operational programs.” Project Quinte reporting along with other environmental monitoring reporting has demonstrated positive results based on management activities led by various stakeholders including the local conservation authority, farmers, municipalities and Province of Ontario. Phosphorus concentrations in the bay have dropped close to the RAP target of 40 μg l−1, water clarity is improving and algal blooms are less prominent (although harmful algal blooms still occur in the bay). Agricultural stewardship has resulted in over 27,000 hectares of farmland converted from conventional to conservation tillage reducing phosphorus inputs from non-point rural sources by more that 16,000 kilograms annually. Sewage treatment plants on the bay have reduced loads from 50 kg day−1 in 1986 to less than 25 kg day−1 (Environment Canada, 2011).
Reporting and communicating scientific research and monitoring
The way in which scientists, regulators, industry and public stakeholders working on the RAP stay up to date on research and monitoring at the Bay of Quinte has varied over the course of the RAP. Listed and described below are the most current commonly used communication tools.
Face to face communication
Four respondents indicated that Research and Monitoring Forums have been held at irregular intervals throughout the course of the RAP. The 2009 Research and Monitoring Forum was the first gathering of scientists of its size since 2004, drawing over sixty scientists and managers. The forum consisted of scientific and management-related presentations given over two days followed by facilitated breakout sessions (Bay of Quinte RAP Implementation Coordination Office [BQRAP ICO], 2009a). A scientific researcher suggested that this face to face communication is a crucial method of communicating findings since personal contact with other researchers is central to the research process. A community leader indicated that since research and monitoring is conducted by multiple groups with significant staff turnover, the forum is a good way to ensure new staff learn and become engaged. Participant surveys reviewed by three respondents suggested decision making was a valuable focal point for the forum. As the BQRAP moves toward its next stage in the RAP process (Stage 3), managers are planning to hold such forums more frequently, which three respondents believe is a key requirement to stay on course for de-listing. Between forums, researchers are invited to BQRC meetings to present their findings. Two respondents said this happens most often when researchers have been contracted by the BQRC. The BQRC meetings are an important forum for sharing information and making decisions on the RAP. The Council meetings also provide an opportunity for the representatives of the Council to report back on work that their agencies are conducting in the Bay of Quinte.
Two respondents indicated that public information sessions have been held in addition to Research and Monitoring Forums in the past and similar sessions are planned to continue in the future. One of the government regulators interviewed stated: “Ultimately we have to show [the research] to the public and say ‘here's what we are using to measure and on our most recent attempt here is what we found’ or ‘here is what we have to do to tell you more.’” A community member explained that the last public forum to present research and monitoring related material was held three years ago, but Quinte Watershed Clean-up Inc. holds public meetings approximately once a year that encompass positive action for environmental stewardship around the bay area beyond the scope of the RAP. Three respondents are concerned that these meetings are not well attended and that public interest seems diminished since earlier in the RAP process. Quinte Watershed Clean-up intends to pair up with the BQRAP Implementation Coordination Office to make short presentations to community groups as well as the planned public information sessions.
Publications and literature
Two respondents indicate that the primary scientific document consulted by the BQRAP Implementation Coordination Office and Restoration Council is the Project Quinte Annual Report, also known as the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan Monitoring Report, which compiles all monitoring data collected at the Bay of Quinte in a given year and any new studies or models based on Project Quinte data (Project Quinte, 2008). These reports are produced to assist the RAP management team and are not meant for wide distribution because they are not peer-reviewed. A series of themed technical reports was released by the BQRAP CC in the early years of the RAP (Beak Consultants, 1988; Diamond et al., 1992; Berquist, 2009 (unpubl.) for additional information on the technical reports). Three respondents indicate these “grey literature” reports remain important reference material. These technical reports are designed to present an overview of scientific findings to audiences beyond the scientific community, specifically other stakeholders in the BQRAP. These technical reports were the basis on which the RAP Stage I and II Reports were developed. One regulator says The Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish (MOE, 2009) is used by RAP managers as a reference to track trends in fish contamination since two of the designated sampling areas for the governments sports fish monitoring program together comprise nearly the full extent of the Bay of Quinte. Two scientists report that researchers on the Bay of Quinte regularly publish their work in academic journals (Minns, 1992; Millard, 1994; Nicholls, 1999; Nicholls et al., 2002, 2004). The Bay of Quinte was the focus of a special edition of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (Minns et al., 1986) and was featured in a special issue of the Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Health (Munawar, 2011).
The BQRAP Implementation Coordination Office publishes an Annual Progress Report, intended for all audiences, that provides a summary of the year's highlights in Bay of Quinte scientific research and monitoring and in RAP implementation programs. Since 2006, the Annual Report has also included a list of all new Bay of Quinte scientific products created that year along with their authors (BQRAP ICO, 2009b). The BQRAP Implementation Coordination Office also publishes two newsletters a year (BQRAP ICO, 2009c) and monthly e-bulletins which are geared specifically to the community. The e-bulletins have helped draw attention to RAP related research and have generated local newspaper articles (Ibbotson, 2010). The BQRAP website was identified by three respondents as a communication tool that is not reaching its full potential. Currently progress reports, newsletters, bulletins, presentations and a collection of major reports (the RAP Stage 2 report [BQRAP CC, 1993]) are available online. It is expected that in the future the website will catalogue all research and monitoring publications that are available about the Bay of Quinte.
Outcomes of shared scientific research and monitoring
Key outcomes of shared scientific research and monitoring include: exploring the potential of monitoring data, adaptive management promoting intra- and inter-RAP collaboration and informing management and decision-making. These outcomes are similar to those observed at the Hamilton Harbour RAP where adaptive management and trend tracking were identified as valuable consequences of shared science (Hall et al., 2006).
Exploring the potential of monitoring data
Project Quinte was developed to assess ecosystem change in response to phosphorus abatement programs. The effects of reducing phosphorus input has been examined from a variety of bottom-up perspectives related to phosphorus loadings and phytoplankton response (Manning, 1996; Nicholls et al., 2002, 2004) as well as to evaluate the impact of aquatic invasive species (Crowder et al., 1991) and climate change (Nicholls, 1999). The Project Quinte data set has also been used to create ecosystem models that predict how the system will respond to various stressors and management options (Minns, 1986; Diamond et al., 1996; Minns et al., 2006; Koops et al., 2006). According to two respondents, these models make the Bay of Quinte stand out among all of the RAPs. Of particular importance is a predictive phosphorus model (Minns and Moore, 2004) that is being evaluated as the key tool on which to base a phosphorus management strategy for the bay. Three respondents agree that much of the value of the Project Quinte data set comes from the fact that data collection protocols have changed little over a long period, providing consistency that is rare.
Hall et al. (2006) found that adaptive management ensures the best possible solutions are being implemented within the Hamilton Harbour RAP. Three respondents agree that progress toward de-listing the bay is dependent on managers’ ability to assess the outcomes of operational programs. These respondents emphasized that research and monitoring are essential for managers to assess progress, and the validity and feasibility of targets. Five of seven respondents agreed that science-based decision making is among the most important outcomes of research and monitoring programs within the RAP structure. Throughout the RAP process, the scientific findings have been central to determining priorities for action, according to four respondents.
Three respondents agree that scientific research and monitoring promote healthy relationships between RAP stakeholders by providing everyone with a common knowledge base on which to identify and address their priorities. One Bay of Quinte regulator said “[Research and monitoring programs] are the only way you have to ‘objectively’ inform people of where things are at and where things are going. It's a critical piece.” Another respondent gave an example of how having a common understanding proved beneficial when initial stakeholders were identifying priorities. The scientific community understood that eutrophication was the biggest factor causing BUIs. Community stakeholders were most eager to address toxic contaminant issues. Scientific models helped unify the groups priorities by showing the relative impacts of eutrophication and toxic contaminants on the identified BUIs. Another respondent said that scientific data has helped community members understand the importance of ecosystem integrity, over any individual objective. Scientific data has been used to engage new stakeholders or existing stakeholders in new ways. One respondent found that industrial stakeholders readily accepted good quality scientific data which created opportunities for open dialogue. Two other respondents said proper communication of research and monitoring avoids waste and redundancy by drawing attention to opportunities for collaboration between programs with similar goals.
Broadly communicating scientific data and findings also promotes collaboration between different scientists studying similar ecosystems. Bay of Quinte scientists have shared information, models and techniques with scientists from across the Great Lakes. Project Quinte has been compared to monitoring programs at Green Bay in Lake Michigan (Millard and Sager, 1994) and ecosystem models from Bay of Quinte have been compared to models developed at Oneida Lake in New York (Koops et al., 2006). In the latter case, the researchers were able to acquire joint funding support from the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission to try to understand changes in Yellow Perch and Walleye fisheries in response to both phosphorus control and invasive species. One scientist said that this type of sharing and comparison of data is an important way to interpret what may or may not be unique to a given system. Approaches from the Bay of Quinte have been instructive to other RAPs and Lakewide Management Plans. Lakewide Management Plans are designed to assess, restore, protect and monitor ecosystem health, coordinate stakeholders, and facilitate public consultation (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2011) on a lake wide basis. According to one respondent, Project Quinte scientists “… have contributed quite a lot to providing better definitions of how to measure the impairments through analytical techniques and analysis.” For example, assessment of lower trophic level BUIs within the Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan was guided by the experience of Project Quinte scientists (Millard and Johannsson, 1998).
Analysis of the interviews, forum notes and document records suggests that there are valuable lessons in multi-stakeholder ecosystem management to be learned from the BQRAP experience including: the need for administrative support, integration of models into policy and decision making; the value of consistent long term monitoring; and the importance of institutional memory, eternal vigilance and public engagement. These lessons stand out as important steps in creating a strong management program and are discussed below.
Administrative support and institutional memory
The importance of having a central coordinating body was identified as critical by five of seven respondents. Focused dedicated leadership was also identified as crucial to the successful delisting of the Collingwood Harbour as an AOC (Krantzberg, 2003). One respondent said “without [the coordinating body] there is no sense of common enterprise;” another respondent credits the coordinating body for maintaining energy and momentum. A pivotal responsibility of the coordinating body is collecting and compiling data to create institutional memory. One respondent pointed out there is a danger that knowledge will be lost as data storage methods within an organization change and staff move on to new roles. Three respondents agree that without a centralized catalogue the efficiency of the whole process will suffer. Hall et al. (2006) found that efficient remediation requires all stakeholders to be aware of and engaged with the scientific data; the IJC (1998) also identifies information transfer as a key contributor to success for any RAP. The coordinating body at the BQRAP is in the process of gathering a catalogue of information on their website.
Incorporating models into management
Three respondents agree that the full potential of models as an instrument that informs decision-making is yet to be explored. One of these respondents suggested the potential was not fully explored within the BQRAP because they were not integrated into the culture of management as “a primary tool for assessing problems and evaluating options.” The biggest barrier to the use of ecosystem models was said to be insufficient knowledge transfer. One respondent stated that “there is a bit of a disconnect between science and management; scientists create tools like [a phosphorus model] and managers are often reluctant to use them.” Models should be an integral part of decision-making and sufficient resources need to be allocated to the training of managers to use them (Minns, 1992). Although the biggest criticism from those who are skeptical of models is often the lack of absolute accuracy, their value in identifying knowledge gaps and evaluating predictions from a comparative aspect can still be of great value.
Maintain consistent monitoring and eternal vigilance
Project Quinte has highlighted the value of ongoing consistent monitoring. One respondent cautioned that long-term monitoring programs, such as Project Quinte, are undervalued and therefore difficult to maintain:
“[Long-term monitoring programs] tend to be seen as peripheral and when budgets get tight, they get cut. Once monitoring programs get cut they tend to be hard to re-establish or rebuild. People are always complaining, when we have new problems, that we don't have data but it's usually because we haven't maintained good basic monitoring programs.”
The same respondent warned that the value of monitoring may not be readily apparent or applicable at all times, but that is inherent to the nature of monitoring and does not negate its importance. In anticipation of the AOC being delisted and the end of the RAP, three respondents emphasized the importance of establishing protocols for “eternal vigilance,” the name given to on-going monitoring at the Bay of Quinte. One regulator insisted that without continued monitoring programs “we end up with it back on the list 20 years from now because people forget why we were here in the first place.” The value of long-term monitoring becomes ever more apparent as we approach the point of full implementation of all actions identified at Stage II, but still have impaired beneficial uses.
Engaging the public
Ongoing attention to science and monitoring must be coupled with ongoing support from the public for implementation programs to be successful. Community members are often able to dedicate their time and energy voluntarily. One respondent said this is not only immediately beneficial to the project, but also inspires volunteers to take responsibility for the water body and take on new stewardship roles. Another respondent highlighted the value of harnessing the energy of an engaged public body to lobby politicians to direct funding to a project. Benefits of community involvement in environmental monitoring and management programs include: increased accessibility of science to the public; increased scientific literacy among citizens; increased trust and cooperation in a community and benefits to ecosystem health (Conrad and Hilchey, 2010). In order to engage the public, the community needs to better understand how they are both part of the problem and solution. One community member feels that having a personal connection with programming is a key motivator for people to get involved. Two respondents said that positive feedback must also be provided, often in the form of “good news stories,” to confirm for the community that their efforts are worthwhile and are making a positive impact. Public involvement is known to be a keystone of success for the RAP process (Hartig and Zarull, 1992; Gurtner-Zimmermann, 1995; IJC 1998; Krantzberg, 2003; Hall et al., 2006) and in sustaining ecological gains after delisting (Krantzberg, 2006). The wider the scope of stakeholder representation the more strong the RAP is likely to be (Sproule-Jones, 2002). The impact of community engagement cannot be understated.
Research and monitoring have played an essential role in the progress of the BQRAP based on successful tracking and communication of research and monitoring results to stakeholders. The BQRAP research and monitoring program resulted in an unusual level of attention given to the Bay of Quinte compared to most other RAPs around the Great Lakes basin. The BQRAP and Project Quinte created a governance environment where on-going research and monitoring played a substantial role in guiding decision-making. These programs became part of an adaptive management approach that supported more informed decision making. This case study provides a practical example to support ecological management theories that indicate efficient and effective ecosystem management requires consistent long-term monitoring programs and the active delivery of scientific data and findings to stakeholders. This study highlights the substantial value of having a consistent long-term monitoring program in place and also points to potential areas of improvement for best-practice in ecosystem management, where such data is available. The BQRAP experience has demonstrated the versatile and unanticipated applications of monitoring data. Bay of Quinte scientists and managers have promoted the use of predictive models as ecosystem management tools; their experience highlights the untapped potential of models and the need for standardized protocols for the use of models in order for the models to properly direct policy. The monitoring data from Project Quinte and its use and communication through the BQRC has played a critical role in understanding progress of the BQRAP toward successful ecosystem restoration. Our main recommendation is for the BQRC. The Council should build on their success in preparation for any transition associated with the de-listing of the BQRAP. The Council should work to ensure the post de-listing governance structure embeds the following: properly funded long term monitoring in support of planning and management; a centralized catalogue of data, information and knowledge accessible to all stakeholders; and continued development and promotion of ecosystem models to inform decision making.
This research received funding support from the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan Implementation Coordination Office and the Queen's University School of Environmental Studies; their contributions are greatly appreciated. Clearance was granted from the Queen's University General Ethics Review Board to conduct the research interviews. We would like to acknowledge that all interviewees participated on a completely voluntary basis; our sincerest thanks go to them all. Many thanks are also due to Jeff Borisko, former Implementation Manager of the BQRAP and to Dr. Peter Hodson of Queen's University for their guidance.