Posted on behalf of Brian Owens.
Fans of environmental science can now have a direct role in helping Canada’s unique Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) continue to do the research it has done for decades.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), based in Winnipeg, took over running the ELA on 1 April, after the federal government eliminated funding for the decades-old environmental research facility (see ‘Test lakes face closure’ and ‘Last minute reprieve for Canada’s research lakes’). The Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba have stepped in to provide money to run the facility and conduct research for the next several years, but more cash is needed to restore research at the ELA to its former levels.
So the IISD has turned to the public. It launched an appeal on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo seeking contributions to expand research and make the ELA less dependent on government largesse.
Along with the usual array of magnets and t-shirts offered as perks by typical crowdfunding campaigns, the IISD has a few unique offers. For CAN$100 (US$90) you can sponsor a plankton count in one sample of lake water, and for CAN$200 you can sponsor a fish in one of the lakes. When your trout, white sucker or pike is caught and tagged, researchers will send you a photo of it and keep you updated on its life for the next five years, every time it is recaptured.
And if you’re feeling really generous (and have a high tolerance for mosquito bites), CAN$2,000 gets you a spot on a tour of the ELA. If that seems a bit steep, there is a cheaper option. Send them CAN$60 and a digital photo of yourself, and they will Photoshop you into a picture of Lake 239.