Highlights efforts to build community resilience to flooding, restore and connect healthy ecosystems, promote environmental justice, educate next generation
Submitted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos released the 2020-2022 Great Lakes Program Report that highlights collaborative efforts to conserve, restore, protect and enhance New York's Great Lakes land and water resources. The report is prepared every two years and highlights partnerships and achievements completed during the prior two years that support New York’s Great Lakes Action Agenda, including improving shoreline and tributary resilience, restoring and connecting aquatic habitats, educating the next generation of environmentally literate, stewardship-minded citizens and environmental professionals, and building capacity in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution, also known as Environmental Justice communities.
"The Great Lakes are an invaluable source of inspiration, beauty and recreation, critical to the health and well-being of communities along their shores," Seggos said. "This report details the impact of New York’s Great Lakes Action Agenda and efforts underway by DEC and our many partners to collaborate and protect the shared natural resources in our state and throughout the region."
The 2020-2022 Great Lakes Program Report highlights significant achievements, including:
√ Investing in environmental justice and disadvantaged communities impacted by climate change and pollution by providing funding, training, and education and outreach for these underrepresented areas;
√ Restoring beneficial uses, including recreation, scenic beauty, and fish and wildlife habitat for environmental justice communities in the Rochester embayment and Buffalo River areas of concern;
√ Demonstrating science-informed, ecosystem-based approaches for nature-based shoreline and riparian restoration that enhance resiliency and habitat, and ensure clean waterways;
√ Engaging more than 300 New York state middle school students in environmental monitoring at Lake Ontario parks and tributaries through the inaugural “Day in the Life of Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River program” supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Great Lakes National Program Office; and
√ Securing $40.8 million in federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding for 207 projects to advance the state's initiatives and build on its commitment to restore the shorelines and waterways of New York's Great Lakes.
New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “The New York Department of State continues its ongoing commitment to build resilient, vibrant and healthy coastal communities, and partner with DEC and others to empower the next generation of Great Lakes stewards. The state’s progress in turning around the health of our lakes has demonstrated the incredible economic, recreational and natural resource impacts they have on our communities. The progress report continues to show the way to conserve, restore and protect New York’s Great Lakes’ resources for a more sustainable and resilient future in New York’s coastal areas.”
New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “With 140 miles of shoreline along the Great Lakes, New York State Parks is proud to continue our active partnership and collaboration with state and federal partners to further restore our critical Great Lake habitats and ecosystems. New York State Parks has recently completed projects to protect and restore 58 acres of wetland habitat and 10,000 feet of natural shoreline, including 950 feet of fish passage, in the Niagara River. We continue to expand outdoor recreation and increase access for all. We look forward to continuing our collaborative work on new outdoor educational opportunities.”
As guided by New York’s Great Lakes Action Agenda, DEC’s Great Lakes Program collaborates with many partners including academic and scientific institutions, nonprofit organizations, local governments, state and federal agencies and interested citizens, and promotes ecosystem-based approaches to management. In the coming year, the program will finalize the updated Great Lakes Action Agenda 2030, drafted with significant and diverse community input, to ensure this stakeholder-supported action plan reflects emerging challenges, science and perspectives, and fosters innovative approaches to address the most pressing issues impacting our Great Lakes communities and ecosystems.