The following is one example of the impact Michigan Sea Grant has had throughout the state, region or beyond.
Small, coastal towns in the Great Lakes are often dependent on the surrounding natural resources for economic survival. When Chinook salmon in Lake Huron declined dramatically, the loss of the fishery negatively impacted charter fishing and coastal economies accordingly. Small port towns along southern Lake Huron’s rural coastline have struggled to adapt to changes in Michigan’s economy and the lake’s fishery.
In 2009, Michigan Sea Grant began supporting an Integrated Assessment to foster collaboration and research options for expanding tourism and recreation along southern Lake Huron’s coast. MSG provided funding and administrative, outreach and communications support. The research team discussed their findings at a series of stakeholders meetings, providing information about who visited the area, different outdoor recreation opportunities and current marketing trends. Stakeholders identified priority issues and brainstormed ways to develop activities that would encourage visitors to include the coast in their travel plans.
Results: To record the impacts of the research project, two surveys were performed. The feedback and reported results included:
- One participant stated that he witnessed new relationships with the towns from Port Huron to Port Austin, and the initial “me first” attitude has been replaced by a regional approach.
- A business owner said meetings with Sea Grant researchers and educators encouraged him to buy a rundown marina that was in foreclosure and to expand his kayaking business to allow people to pick up or drop off kayaks at multiple points along the coastline.
- Two communities have initiated a pilot “Trail Towns” project to promote walking, biking and paddling and have submitted a proposal to expand this work to other coastal towns.
- Another community has already implemented some of the branding, marketing and tourism suggestions, and integrated results into strategic planning for Port Sanilac.