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International Joint Commission Focuses on Great Lakes Progress in Buffalo Meeting

photo of IJC meeting
Issues discussed at the International Joint Commission's meeting included lake protection, phosphorous reduction and government recommendations.

U.S. and Canadian commissioners representing the Great Lakes met in Buffalo, N.Y., today to hear from the public on the region’s progress. Local environmental groups presented their progress as well.

U.S. International Joint Commissioner Lana Pollack opened with a message:

“What we’re here today to do is to hear from some experts, hear from the public, and thereby advise the governments in both countries as well as local jurisdictions on how lakes can best be protected."

Four U.S. and Canadian IJC commissioners hosted the meeting for residents to share thoughts on two separate progress reports. The reports include recommendations for the federal government – from paying more attention to recreational waters to reducing phosphorus in western Lake Erie.

The meeting also presented a chance to hear from advocates working every day to restore the Great Lakes, including the Western New York Land Conservancy’s Jajean Rose-Burney. He is leading a campaign to honor Buffalo’s Niagara River as a Ramsar site, an international honor.

“The river is on the mend; it’s probably healthier than it has been in generations," explained Rose-Burney.  "Ramsar is a way to honor that change, that turnaround."

There are already four designated Ramsar sites along the Great Lakes, but the Niagara River designation would be the first transboundary site on the Ramsar list in North America.

The commission is accepting public comment until April 15. 

Great Lakes Today is a collaboration of WBFO Buffalo, ideastream, and WXXI Rochester.