Members of the Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) say "global climate change is a reality" and it's affecting the Great Lakes.
The SWP along with the Greal Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessment Center (GLISA), Michigan State Extension and the City of Marquette held a public forum at Lakeview Arena in Marquette Wednesday.
The meeting discussed the changes with the public while requesting feedback from the community on any changes they may or may not be noticing.
These environmentalists recently developed a plan they believe will help the Upper Peninsula adapt to the changes.
Superior Watershed Partnership's Executive Director, Carl Lindquist, explains scientific data collected over the past 40 years reveal the lake suffered a "70 percent loss" in ice cover, and that climate change is responsible.
The director adds that there were "record-breaking water temperatures" last summer on Lake Superior.
"President Obama said last night in the State of the Union address â??2012 was the warmest year on record for the planet,'" said Lindquist. "That's also true for Lake Superior. Lake Superior was the warmest that has ever been recorded last year."
In the winter of 2011, the SWP, along with Climate Solutions University (CSU), developed an adaption plan in Alger County. The data derived from it became the "catalyst and foundation for the development of this plan."
Broad long-term goals are:
*Assist communities to prepare their infrastructure, build environment, health and human services for predicted climate changes.
*Strengthen the regionâ??s main economic bases--tourism and timber--by helping communities minimize negative climate change impacts on these industries, and take advantage of positive opportunities.
*Protect the Lake Superior shoreline from damage due to fluctuating lake levels, increased lake storm action, habitat loss and poorly regulated human development.
*Increase the ability of wetlands to withstand climate changes such as flooding, drought and intense storm events through on-the-ground projects and effective watershed management. Protect habitat for cold-water stream fish. Minimize damage from invasive aquatic species.
*Maintain forest ecosystem integrity, overall health and resilience. Protect habitat for specific endangered and vulnerable plant and animal species, and minimize damage from invasive species.
*Promote public education and awareness of the effects of climate change and the benefits of taking action through adaptation and mitigation strategies.
In addition, the Superior Watershed Partnership and the City of Marquette have also created a Better Buildings for Michigan Program. The program will offer low costing energy assessments and financial incentives for homeowners to install energy upgrades.
The meeting brought up concerns about shorter winters, snowfall melting at a faster rate and its impact on our environment.
"Our U.P. economy is very dependant on snow-related activities and the people that it brings in," reported city planning commissioner Jake Guter. "If winters become less, that may very well impact our economy."
Environmentalists say the community can contribute to solutions by recycling, making homes more energy efficient, and conserving water.