Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum
Connecting the Community to Great Lakes Science and Policy
The Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum (PA LEEF) is a public gathering to share updates on regional and environmental topics. Citizens are encouraged to be a part of the process, connecting with co-hosts, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) and Pennsylvania Sea Grant.
These information-sharing forums were first organized in 2013, as a direct result of the de-listing of Presque Isle Bay as a federal Area of Concern (AOC) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In 1991 the EPA listed the 25 square mile Presque Isle Bay watershed as an AOC due to wastewater contamination. Point and nonpoint source pollution contributors from industrial and private sources were to blame for the contaminated Bay. Urban runoff, combined sewer overflows, and stormwater contributed to the nonpoint source pollution loads, while steel mills, the city of Erie’s wastewater treatment system, and other industrial facilities contributed to the point source pollution loads. These polluted discharges reached the Bay through streams and tributaries, through (need more here) and some were discharged directly into the Bay, resulting in excessive nutrients, organic compounds, and heavy metals – and a contaminated Bay.
At that time, federal and state agencies established a public advisory committee (PAC) to share information and to help educate the public about the pollution-related issues. The cross-sharing of information, agency to advisory, advisory to the public, and vice-versa, had positive and long-lasting results.
In just over two decades, the intense federal, state, and local agency efforts combined with committed and passionate community member action resulted in Presque Isle Bay being removed from the EPA’s AOC list in 2013.
One of the many lessons learned, was the importance of cross-sharing of information. Community members sought information, and state and federal agencies depended on public information to ensure the health of Presque Isle Bay, and so the PAC eventually morphed into a broader public information gathering and sharing opportunity, the Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum.
The forums serve the need of PA DEP and the community by offering a medium for sharing the latest Great Lakes science, research, education, and outreach programming, presented by individuals from across the Great Lakes and Pennsylvania. From 2016 to 2019 the forums were held in person at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie, Pennsylvania. In 2020, the forum pivoted to a virtual format as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the virtual forums are held two to four times a year, and while participation is free, registration is required.
Note – to request a copy of forum notes or additional information about previous forums, contact Tim Bruno or Amber Stilwell. See contact information below.
Upcoming Forum Details
Get the latest details about the Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum including the featured topic, date, time, and and online registration information, speaker details, and more.
Access previous forum agendas, speaker details and presentations, and information about a variety of Great Lakes topics.
Timothy Bruno serves as the Chief of the Office of the Great Lakes at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and host of the forums. He is responsible for the leadership, coordination, and implementation of the Commonwealth’s Great Lakes water quality, water use, and watershed-related programs and policy initiatives.
Amber Stilwell, Forum Facilitator
Amber Stilwell, Coastal Outreach Specialist working in the Lake Erie Region, joined Pennsylvania Sea Grant in August 2021. She is responsible for planning, developing, implementing, and evaluating regional outreach programs with a focus on healthy ecosystems and watershed restoration.