Penn State Erie's Sea Grant To Focus On Ecology, Economic Development

University Park, Pa. -- The Philadelphia docks notwithstanding, Pennsylvanians do not usually think of themselves as seafaring folk, but the recent awarding of a Sea Grant to Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, may give people reason to reconsider.

The 43 miles of Lake Erie coastline in Pennsylvania, the Presque Isle peninsula, Presque Isle Bay and the 511-square-mile Lake Erie watershed are the focus of the $480,000 grant forming the Pennsylvania Sea Grant Coherent Area Plan. Previously, Pennsylvania did not have Sea Grant status.

The U.S. Department of Commerce established Sea Grants in 1966 to support fisheries and marine resources in much the same way that Land Grants were used to establish research in agriculture and mining. While most Sea Grant awards have gone to coastal states, all of the other states bordering the Great Lakes have received Sea Grants in the past. Pennsylvania now joins Ohio, New York and Michigan in research on Lake Erie.

"Penn State Erie's Sea Grant will allow us to monitor the ecology of the coast and Presque Isle as well as to promote environmentally friendly manufacturing and development," says Dr. Robert Light, associate dean and associate provost. Light will be director of the Sea Grant for the first two years.

As a Coherent Area Plan, the initial focus of the Sea Grant will be on extension, education and communications, rather than research. Studies will include non-point source pollution of Presque Isle Bay and the invasion of non-native plants in Presque Isle State Park. An evaluation of the effect of increased clarity in the Bay is also planned.

"Presque Isle is a unique environment in Pennsylvania," says Light, who also has a Ph.D. in ecology. "There are myriads of plants and animals on the Isle and in the Bay and at least 130 plants and animals of special concern inhabit the area. Presque Isle Park is also one of the most visited parks in the country."

Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
Penn State

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