Canadian Science Goes Down the Drain - 2014-05-14
Two years ago, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced that it would be closing the Experimental Lakes Area as part of a budget-balancing move. The government first announced that the ELA was no longer needed, and that similar science could be done at its other facilities. Never mind that the ELA had a license to perform whole-ecosystem experiments that were not possible at any other facility in the world, or that the station had the longest monitoring record for lakes and streams in Canada.
The announcement caused outrage in the international science community, among journalists and the general public. The Harper government, bewildered that there would be such widespread support for an obscure low-budget field station, quickly changed its story: they would be seeking a new operator for the site. Only one such operator showed interest: the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Winnipeg-based think tank. Negotiations between DFO and IISD began in the autumn of that year. March 31, 2014 was set as a target date for an agreement.
During the first week of April 2014, the long negotiations finally closed and the ELA was transferred to IISD. Thanks are due to the many scientists, journalists, editors, politicians and private citizens who threw their support behind the ELA, and to the IISD for their patience during the lengthy process.