Saugeen Ojibway Nation recognized for successful partnership to rehabilitate Denny's
Dam to protect the integrity of Lake Huron
Detroit, Michigan, June 18, 2019 - The Great Lakes Fishery Commission honored representatives
of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) with the C.D. "Buzz" Besadny Award for Fostering
Great Lakes Partnerships during the Commission's recent 64th annual meeting in Detroit,
Michigan. The award, which the Commission presents annually, recognized SON members
for their commitment to rehabilitate Denny's Dam, a critical sea lamprey control
structure, on the Saugeen River in Ontario.
Commissioner Tracey Mill presented the award to Chief Lester Anoquot of the Saugeen
First Nation (represented by Head Councilor Conrad Ritchie), Chief Gregory Nadjiwon
of the Chippewas of Nawash, Mr. Doran Ritchie, the Manager of Resources and Infrastructure
for SON; and Ms. Kathleen Ryan, SON's Energy Manager.
Denny's Dam is located on the Saugeen River, a large tributary to Lake Huron with
significant potential for sea lamprey production. In 1970, Denny's Dam was reconstructed
as a lamprey barrier, and since then the river has only been treated with lampricide
once, in 1971. If sea lampreys were to breach this barrier, the Saugeen River would
likely require treatment every 4 to 6 years at more than $600,000 per treatment.
In presenting the award to representatives of the SON, Commissioner Mill stated:
"The Buzz Besadny award is named after our former commissioner, who also was the
secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Buzz believed firmly
the Great Lakes and its irreplaceable fishery could not be managed sustainably without
strong collaboration across borders and a firm commitment from all levels of government
to work cooperatively. SON's commitment to the partnerships necessary to complete
the rehabilitation of Denny's Dam, epitomizes all that Buzz stood for.
"Despite Denny's Dam operating for nearly fifty years, the relationship between
the Commission and SON is relatively new, having been initiated in 2015 as concern
about the imminent failure of Denny's Dam grew stronger," Commissioner Mill continued.
"Under the leadership of the Commission's Chair, Jim McKane, members of the Commission
reached out to the leadership within SON to determine if a common path forward could
be achieved. This was the beginning of what would grow into a strong, constructive,
collaborative, cooperative, and mutually respectful relationship based on a common
commitment to pursue sustainable conservation of subsistence, ceremonial, social,
and commercial fisheries of the Saugeen River, Lake Huron, and Georgian Bay."
Mill continued: "The rehabilitation of Denny's Dam was made possible by a shared
understanding between the Commission and the SON that efforts to plan, design, engineer,
construct and monitor the project would respect the SON's aboriginal and treaty
rights. The collaboration formed a basis of knowledge, trust, and a ‘sleeves-rolled-up'
environment where everyone was working ‘on the ground' and issues could be immediately
raised and thoughtfully addressed.
"Without the SON's collaboration, the Denny's Dam rehabilitation project would not
have been completed," Mill concluded. "It is an honor to celebrate this productive
and meaningful partnership that future generations will remember because of the
tremendous and lasting benefits Denny's Dam will bring to the fishery."
The Great Lakes Fishery Commission is an international organization established
by the United States and Canada through the 1954 Convention on Great Lakes Fisheries.
The Commission has the responsibility to support fisheries research, control the
invasive sea lamprey in the Great Lakes, and facilitate implementation of A Joint
Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes Fisheries, a provincial, state, and
tribal fisheries management agreement.
Great Lakes Fishery Commission Commissioner Tracey Mill (left) presents SON representatives
(L-R) Head Councilor Conrad Ritchie, Saugeen First Nation (representing Chief Lester
Anoquot of the Saugeen First Nation); Chief Gregory Nadjiwon, Chippewas of Nawash;
Mr. Doran Ritchie, Saugeen Ojibway Nation with the 2018 C.D. Buzz Besadny Award
for Fostering Great Lakes Partnerships. Not pictured: Ms. Kathleen Ryan, SON. The
award was presented to the SON on May 29, 2019 during the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's
64th annual meeting held in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: T. Lawrence, GLFC.