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For Release: Friday, November 1, 2019

DEC to Host Work Group Meetings Promoting Partnerships and Projects for Great Lakes Restoration

Meetings Held throughout Great Lakes Region Nov. 12 - 15

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the agency is holding a series of work groups with not-for-profit organizations and the public across the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario watersheds to advance Great Lakes restoration. Work group meetings will be held Nov. 12 - 15.

DEC Great Lakes Program Coordinator Don Zelazny said, "The work groups are an essential component of implementing New York's Great Lakes Action Agenda, not only to achieve the state's goals for Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, but to ensure restoration and conservation investments support local priorities and benefit community partners."

New York's Great Lakes Basin: Action Agenda is New York's fully integrated action plan guiding restoration, conservation, and sustainable development activities in the state's Great Lakes watershed. Regional work group meetings in November are:

  • Northeast Ontario/St. Lawrence River: Nov. 12, 1-4 p.m., West Carthage Fire Hall, West Carthage;
  • Southeast Lake Ontario/Finger Lakes: Nov. 13, 1-4 p.m., Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wayne County, Newark;
  • Southwest Lake Ontario/Genesee River: Nov. 14, 1-4 p.m., Tinker Nature Park, Pittsford; and
  • Lake Erie/ Niagara River: Nov. 15, 1-4 p.m., Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve, Depew.

DEC invites its organizational partners and the interested public to attend an upcoming work group meeting and connect with local partners and learn how they can help protect and restore Great Lakes lands and waters.

The Action Agenda serves as the implementation blueprint for four regional work groups covering three regions of Lake Ontario and one on Lake Erie. Regional work groups bring together local partners from non-profit organizations, academic institutions, town and county governments, regional planning organizations, and interested members of the public.

These meetings will focus on identifying opportunities for restoring aquatic and coastal habitats. Brief updates and discussion on regional projects pertaining to beach health, water quality, coastal restoration, green infrastructure, municipal engagement and others, will be included. Meeting highlights by region include:

  • North East Lake Ontario - Focus on Black River and St. Lawrence River watershed management efforts and form collaborations for future projects;
  • South East Lake Ontario - Focus on identifying aquatic habitat restoration and water quality projects within the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario tributaries;
  • South West Lake Ontario - Focus on Genesee River restoration efforts and identify priorities for coastal habitat improvement; and
  • Lake Erie - Focus on local efforts to improve beaches, monitor water quality and coastal impacts of seiche events (a temporary disturbance or oscillation in the water level of a lake).

Since the Great Lakes Action Agenda was released in 2014, DEC and local, state, and federal partners throughout the watershed have implemented, and continue to achieve, its ambitious goals. Accomplishments include:

  • Launching an annual Great Lakes basin small grants program in partnership with NY Sea Grant to support local efforts to conserve and restore watershed resources;
  • Designing and implementing targeted green infrastructure practices at Lake Erie beaches, capturing runoff and reducing beach closures;
  • Supporting aquatic connectivity assessments to identify key areas for improving fish passage and reducing localized flooding;
  • Implementing nature-based shoreline stabilization projects along the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the Finger Lakes to enhance coastal resiliency, protect water quality, and preserve aquatic habitat;
  • Developing a new Great Lakes Ecosystem Education Exchange program to bring Great Lakes curricula to New York teachers and students;
  • Providing municipal workshops to help community decision-makers manage water resources and respond to climate change;
  • Developing the Riparian Restoration Opportunity Assessment mapping tool to help partners prioritize areas for restoration and protection; and
  • Initiating the first comprehensive water quality monitoring assessment of the Lake Erie-Niagara River watersheds to identify sediment and nutrient hotspots.

Learn more about the Great Lakes Action Agenda and accomplishments at DEC's website. For more information on the Great Lakes Action Agenda and/or the upcoming work group meetings, contact Greatlakes@dec.ny.gov or 716-851-7070.

The Great Lakes Action Agenda is strategically aligned with the federal "Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan," which has brought more than $198 million to New York's Great Lakes region since 2010. Recommendations set forth by New York's Oceans and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation initiative, Regional Economic Development Councils, and the NYS 2100 Commission Report are also integrated into the agenda. As a five-year plan, it is updated regularly to ensure it includes the state's priorities.

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