Eric Fowle

Eric Fowle

Eric Fowle

Eric Fowle is the Executive Director of the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (ECWRPC) – a quasi-governmental, advisory planning agency created by the State of Wisconsin to foster regional collaboration across a ten county area.

His career began in the realm of ‘water’; starting his career with the Brown County Planning Commission serving as staff support for the Lower Green Bay Remedial Action Plan – one of 31 impaired Areas of Concern (AOCs) strewn across the Great Lakes basin. Later, as a Community Planner with the Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission, he worked with dozens of communities on environmental planning issues and regional wastewater service and treatment plans.

His subsequent 8 years of work as an Environmental Planner at the East Central RPC allowed him to build the State of Wisconsin’s first regional non-metallic mining reclamation program; better integrate the environmental visioning process into local land use plans, and; develop regional plans and policies geared toward the conservation of the region’s unique and abundant natural resources. He received his American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) certification in 1999, and; in 2005, he became the youngest Executive Director in the agency’s 41 year history.

During this time, Eric was a driving force in fostering the creation of the Niagara Escarpment Resource Network (NERN); an outgrowth of an initial symposium on the subject held in 1998. His leadership and collaborative skills have led to successes including State Legislature proclamations; national American Viticultural Area designations; a successful ‘Ledge Tours’ program, and; a partnership-based approach to the development of the escarpment corridor’s first visionary Greenway Plan.

Much of his work was recognized in 2010 when he was selected as a recipient of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Conservation Person of the Year Award. His work with water has now come full circle, as NERN joined with the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership in 2010 where he serves on the Board of Directors. This broader non-profit group is driven to build an improved ‘water ethic’ within Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Basin.

2014 Forum Talk

The Great Arc as a Focus for a Great Lakes GeoPark

The Niagara Escarpment has prodigious relationships with water. Its underlying geology was crafted from ancient seas hundreds of millions of years ago. More recently, its exposed dolomitic rim heavily influenced the series of glacial proto-lakes, as well as the current Great Lakes system we know today. The escarpment’s table lands serves as a ‘headwaters’ for many streams and river systems. It makes (spectacular) contact with the shorelines of three of the five Great Lakes. Its unique cliff-edge micro-climates require the constant flow of groundwater which is exposed as a myriad of springs and seeps. Water continues to shape and change this geologic feature today. It is for these reasons that any future consideration of a UNESCO GeoPark application for the Niagara Escarpment, must also include, acknowledge, and honor the waters of the Great Lakes.

An international-scaled “Great Lakes/Great Arc GeoPark” could serve as a focal point for long-term, expansive, and system-wide ecological, economic, and social gains through potential future collaborative efforts. A UNESCO Global Geopark is defined as a unified area with geological heritage of international significance. Utilizing this concept, specific linkages exist and can be presented in a manner for which to build the case for such a designation. When areas of geology, biology/ecology, recreation, conservation and eco-tourism are weaved together with the historic and current heritage connections across this vast cultural landscape, they form the fabric of an existing, ‘de facto’ GeoPark. The Niagara Escarpment corridor in Ontario is already a likely stand-alone candidate for UNESCO GeoPark consideration, however; by extending the designation across its entire length – by adding the knowledge and the resources and the passions which extend beyond the Province of Ontario and into the United States – it would further reinforce the Great Arc’s position as perhaps the most important physiographic feature within the Great Lakes Region.

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