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For Release: Thursday, July 25, 2013

Public Invited to Lake Ontario Ecosystem Forums in Rochester and Oswego

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and New York Sea Grant will host two forums in August about environmental issues affecting Lake Ontario and the work being done under the Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) to address these issues.

Lake Ontario watershed residents, beach enthusiasts, birders, anglers, boaters, and anyone interested in the Lake Ontario ecosystem are invited to attend these forums, where scientists and managers will provide updates on the status of restoration efforts, research, and environmental issues affecting Lake Ontario.

The meeting details are as follows:

  • Thursday, August 15 in Rochester: 6:00-8:00 p.m., Port of Rochester Terminal Building, 1000 North River St., Rochester, NY 14612.
  • Thursday, August 22 in Oswego: 6:00-8:00 p.m., Campus Center Room 132, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126.

Expert presenters from NYSDEC, the U.S. Geological Survey, the NY Natural Heritage Program, key universities, and county and local watershed organizations will offer presentations on water quality in Lake Ontario, the quality of Lake Ontario beaches, the lake's food web, restoration of native fish species, research on toxic contaminants in fish, and monitoring and restoration of the lake's coastal wetlands. A Question and Answer session will follow the presentations. Agendas and additional meeting information are available on the temporary meeting website (leaves DEC's website).

The Lake Ontario Ecosystem Forums will not address Lake Ontario water level regulation. Separate events are being conducted by the International Joint Commission (IJC) to discuss the water level regulation plan.

Lake Ontario is the 14th largest lake in the world, provides drinking water for 8 million people, and supports a multi-million dollar sportfishing industry. As part of the largest freshwater system on earth (the Great Lakes), Lake Ontario is a unique biological resource which supports special fish and wildlife species and a complex food web. The watersheds of the Lake Ontario basin cover nearly 1/3 of New York State's land area; and influence conditions in the lake, especially the areas close to shore where people have the most contact with the lake.

Lake Ontario's ecosystem is affected by nutrients and other pollutants, invasive species, and climate change. With support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and guided by the binational LAMP, work is underway to improve water quality, reduce levels of toxic contaminants in fish, restore native fish species such as Lake Sturgeon, prevent the spread of invasive species, and improve habitat quality in the lake's coastal wetlands.

These free public workshops are funded by the GLRI, a federally funded, multi-year, multi-agency program (leaves DEC's website) to restore the Great Lakes. Beginning in 2010, it now represents the largest investment in the Great Lakes region in two decades. The Lake Ontario LAMP is a binational, cooperative plan to restore and protect the health of Lake Ontario by reducing chemical pollutants and addressing the biological and physical factors impacting the lake. The LAMP guides the activities of U.S. and Canadian federal, state and provincial government agencies, and diverse stakeholder organizations. Learn more on the Lake Ontario Lakewide Action and Management Plan webpage.

Other local lake-related outreach activities will occur during the afternoon before each of the Lake Ontario Ecosystem Forums. In Rochester, the Seneca Park Zoo will hold their first Lake Sturgeon Weigh-In at 3:00 p.m., along with interactive displays by the Water Education Collaborative highlighting the role stormwater plays in fish health and water quality. In Oswego, the new U.S. Geological Survey research ship the R/V Kaho will be open for the public to tour at 4:00 p.m. and at 4:30 p.m. at the Lake Ontario Biological Station. For more information about these additional events, please visit the temporary meeting website (leaves DEC's website).

For more information about the Lake Ontario Ecosystem Forums in Rochester and Oswego, please visit the temporary website: http://www.scgcorp.com/lakeontariomeetings2013/, or call Jennifer Baker with the DEC at (315) 785-2261 (jlbaker@gw.dec.state.ny.us), or Steve Gibb with SCG at (301) 670-4990 (sgibb@scgcorp.com).