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Great Lakes Article:

Habitat Watch # 234 Great Lakes United October 21- October 26, 2001

Report from the International Joint Commission’s 11th biennial public forum:

The one-month postponement of International Joint Commission’s 11th biennial meeting due to the events of September 11th reduced attendance at the Montreal meeting to about 300 people. But energy was high, the presentations eye opening, and the public comments extensive. Here are some of the highlights from the public comment sessions.

The office of Canada’s Auditor General, Shelia Fraser, gave a scathing critique of the Canadian governments progress on environmental protection, telling the audience that federal efforts to protect and restore the environment have lost momentum, the lack of action indicates complacency and resignation within the government, and resources are out of sync with the needs of the region. The result: a waning federal role in protection, impaired monitoring, no effective long-term strategies, and a failure to meet the commitments under the

Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

The 2000 Report of the Auditor General of Canada can be found at:, or can be obtained by request at: (613) 952-0213, ext 5000, or:

During the 2-hour public forum, about 30 individuals and public representatives addressed governmental representatives and the four IJC commissioners (two U.S. positions still remain vacant pending appointment by the U.S. administration). Great Lakes United members provided a critique of the various documents and plans currently under consideration for the Great Lakes  St. Lawrence River. Critiques included: the IJC Priorities for 2001-2003, the United States and Canadian governmental responses to the 10th biennial report of the IJC, the draft 5-year plans for Great Lakes restoration in the U.S. (the “Great Lakes Strategy”) and Canada (the Canada-Ontario Agreement), and the Canadian-U.S. State Of the Lake Ecosystem Conferences 2001 report.

A similar message ran through most of the critiques presented:  none of the documents, priorities and plans are truly strategic and action oriented in terms of the challenges ahead for the region.

Speakers highlighted the myriad pressures and problems our region’s human, fish and wildlife populations are facing, including:

·       The push for more nuclear power, oil and gas drilling, and coal burning ·        Human population increases ·     Increases in consumption of land, water, wood (both standing trees and sunken logs), energy and goods ·  Continual production of high volumes of toxic wastes ·   The lack of a program and subsidy shift to renewable energy and clean production ·       Exotic species invasions  ·      Widespread habitat fragmentation ·       Aquatic habitat destruction from dredging and pipeline construction, including the Millennium pipeline.

Speakers clearly stated that sufficient studies have taken place. Support and concrete action is needed now for the critical and urgent need for environmental restoration and pollution prevention.

The public asked the IJC to push the governments for aggressive, result-oriented restoration and pollution prevention strategies consistent with principles of Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Not just more programs for plugging every gap in the data.

Great Lakes United’s Habitat and Biodiversity task force produces Habitat Watch with support from the George Gund Foundation and GLU coalition members. The task force is committed to protecting natural areas, wildlife, and strong conservation laws across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem. To join the coalition, subscribe, or send stories, contact GLU at: (716) 886-0142; fax: (716) 886-0303; or email: Past issues of Habitat Watch can be found at:

Jennifer Nalbone Habitat and Biodiversity Coordinator Great Lakes United 1300 Elmwood Avenue Cassety Hall- Buffalo State College Buffalo, NY 14222

ph: (716) 886-0142  fax:-0303

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