Windsor

New facility in LaSalle aims to help restore the Great Lakes

Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre in LaSalle will be used by University of Windsor students for research and as an educational facility for elementary and high school students.

University students can study near the water with a new facility in LaSalle

The Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre on the shore of the Detroit River is giving students a chance for hands-on research designed to restore the Great Lakes. 0:52

A new facility on the shore of the Detroit River is giving students a chance for hands-on research designed to restore the Great Lakes.

The centre will be used by University of Windsor students for research and by elementary school students as an educational facility.

"We're going to work on invasive species and how to remove them," said Trevor Pitcher, director of the $1.2 million Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre in LaSalle. "We're working on how to restore fish populations and we're also working on way to clean up the waterways."

He said most of the equipment is custom made and comes from all across the world.

The centre was funded through a partnership between the town, the University of Windsor, the Ontario Research Foundation, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Pritcher said the facility is unique on the Great Lakes basin and gives students a chance to "get their hands wet" by having the Detroit River just outside their back door.

Pitcher said this allows students to work on the river and test their scientific questions they can't test anywhere else.

From the back door of the Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre you can see the Detroit River. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"It will move us beyond just monitoring problems and allows us to actually do some restoration ecology," he said.

University of Windsor graduate student Celine LaJoie is working on learning more about salmon in Lake Ontario. LaJoie said it's a great new asset for the school.

"We're now able to test a lot of new concepts we weren't able to before at other locations," she said. "It works because we're able to rear fish here. We're able to test out things like their swimming performance." 

Celine LaJoie is a master's student at the University of Windsor. She said Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre is a great new assets for the school. (Stacey janzer/CBC)

For LaJoie she has the opportunity to test fish on swim flumes, which tells them how well they swim.

"The fish are the coolest part of this place," she said. "We have amazing rainbow trout, which I love. We have this lake sturgeon, which is just a giant aquatic dinosaur. We have a lot of cool stuff here."

The Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre partners closely with the United State Fish and Wildlife Service and the United States Geological Survey.

"I think what this allows us to do is really bring something else to the table to essentially allow us to pick up any slack that may exist if the United States funds lessen its Great Lakes," Pitcher said.

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