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The New York Great Lakes Basin Interim Action Agenda is a guide to promote successful ecosystem-based management within the Great Lakes Basin and was written in order to define an integrated and comprehensive course of action to make the New York Great Lakes region economically stronger and more ecologically resilient for future generations. In it, there is a list of goals that will be accomplished through collaborative effort involving multiple Partners and existing programming. These goals set out to protect, restore, and sustainably manage the resources of the Great Lakes Water basins of NYS. There was an earlier draft in 2011, but stakeholders made the observation that they wanted to move from a “planning mode” to one of “action and results”. Thus, the 2014 action agenda was finalized as an interim version and released last fall. This plan sets out measurable targets and takes into account the progress and achievements that have already been made in each specific area.

As time goes by, priorities change. The Action Agenda is meant to be a living document that will evolve with public engagement along with new or changing priority issues. Four regional work groups have been formed to identify and advance priority projects in each of the state’s major sub-basins. Sub-basin work plans will be developed to implement the agenda at a local level. The 10 identified goals can be arranged into three sections: water quality, natural resources, and resilient communities and sustainable development. Water quality includes the focus areas of toxin reduction, non-point source management and Areas of Concern (AOC). Natural resources includes the focus areas of invasive species, fish and wildlife habitat and water conservation, while resilient communities and sustainable development focuses on coastal resiliency, climate change adaptation, smart growth, recreation and tourism and planning for energy development.

It is within the natural resources section where the Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMs) come into play. Aquatic and terrestrial invasive species are not only an issue in and of themselves, they will influence the success of other key aspects of the agenda such as recreation, tourism, coastal resiliency, fish and wildlife habitat and water quality. Many of the invasive species strategies outlined in the agenda already describe a normal day in the life of a PRISM employee: assessment, monitoring and planning, implementing management options such as control and eradication of invasive species populations, education and outreach, and finally partnerships. With such overreaching priority actions, collaboration is key to achieving sustainable outcomes across the state’s Great Lakes Basin. For example, in the outline of just this one goal, the DEC, NYS Canal Corps, NYS Invasive Species Research Institute, PRISMs, Natural Heritage, and Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation are listed as Partners, among many others. WNY PRISM is only one piece of the large network of state and federal agencies, municipalities, academic institutions, non-profits and community partners that are working to preserve and protect the Great Lakes Region.

Visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/91881.html to keep yourself updated on the progress being made with the Action Agenda. The next Lake Erie Work Group Meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 2nd from 1 – 4 pm at Reinstein Woods, and the SW Lake Ontario Work Group Meeting will be held on Thursday, December 3rd from 9 – noon at Braddock Bay Lodge.

This blog post was written by Patricia Shulenburg, 2015 WNY PRISM Education and Outreach Asssistant