IJC Thanks You for Stepping In and Speaking Out for the Great Lakes in 2019
The roundtables, listening sessions and public meetings this past summer and fall have been held, and the online survey was completed by more 730 people. We've heard a great deal from Great Lakes residents about how the lakes are faring, actions they're taking to restore and protect their part of the lakes, and discovering what’s most important to each person when it comes to the health and vitality of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Now, the Commission is considering all of your comments and insights, as well as advice and recommendations from its Agreement boards, to write its Triennial Assessment of Progress report. It expects to release that report in Spring 2020.
Look for all of your comments, either from the meetings in video format, or your written comments to be added to this page in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please subscribe to our monthly Great Lakes Connection newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest IJC work about the lakes at https://www.ijc.org/en/newsletter/great-lakes-connection.
See the Story Map for videos and presentations from the IJC's 2019 public meetings.
I live near the south end of Lake Superior. The current threat is Enbridge and its Line 5 that carries crude oil across our state. The line provides nothing to residents of WI, yet we carry the risk. The Bad River Tribe has asked that Enbridge remove the line from their land where it crosses the Bad River in a vulnerable and ever-changing bend in the river. A spill would be catastrophic to the wild rice beds and the fishery between the pipeline and Lake Superior. Enbridge is currently looking for a route to circumvent tribal lands, but the current proposal only goes around reservation boundaries and along the way crosses every single tributary that feeds the Bad River. The threat is still there to the watershed. Apparently Enbridge engineers do no understand the very basic science of a 'watershed.' The pipeline doesn't belong here. It doesn't belong in Wisconsin. There is no benefit whatsoever to the citizens of this state. Only risk. Line 5 should be decomissioned which would solve the threat in the Straits of Mackinaw in Michigan, too.
I am very happy to see the drastic decline in new occurrences of Great Lakes invasive species. This is a testament to the hard work of the many universities, management agencies, policy groups, and other stakeholders who have committed to ramping up detection and response efforts across the Great Lakes region. I am a graduate student at Central Michigan University working in the lab of Dr. Anna Monfils, where we are researching an aquatic invasive plant in Michigan -- European frog-bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae). While we are making great progress in learning more about this species and its impacts, there is a real need for additional resources to limit the secondary spread of this mat-forming plant. Although invasive plants often get overlooked in place of higher trophic groups (e.g. fish, invertebrates), such species have the potential to fundamentally alter the ecosystems where they become established from the bottom-up. Real progress is being made, and this is great news! But I also hope to see continued funding devoted to boater education and outreach and EDRR efforts to slow the movement of aquatic invasive plant species in our Great Lakes. Thank you.
One of the most successful efforts to protect and restore Lake Superior has been the Lake Superior Zero Discharge Demonstration Program. I am writing to encourage the Commissioners to recommit to the goals of Zero Discharge in the year 2020.
The Zero Discharge Program created excellent communication and collaboration between federal, state, provincial, tribal and First Nation governments about critical shared water quality issues, including the “Nasty Nine” persistent bioaccumulative chemicals. The Zero Discharge Program also led to the development and success of the Lake Superior Binational Forum, which until its demise in 2014 provided excellent community engagement around the watershed.
Even more impressive than the civic engagement of the Zero Discharge Program is the actual reductions in both the discharge of chemicals and the presence of the chemicals in the watershed. The IJC prepared an excellent summary of this work here: https://www.ijc.org/en/taking-nine-how-toxic-discharges-lake-superior-w…. The summary states, “Basin-wide, mercury releases have dropped 80 percent and dioxins have dropped 85 percent.”
The Zero Discharge Program was set up in the early 1990s, with the ambitious goal of virtually eliminating the “Nasty Nine” in the watershed by the year 2020. Although much progress has been made toward that goal, it is clear that the goal of virtual elimination will not be met in 2020. Mercury discharge still remains high. Also, there are new contaminants that have emerged since 1990 and could be included in a “New Nasty Nine” list.
2020 is a perfect year for the IJC to recommit to the Lake Superior Zero Discharge effort. As it was in 1989 when the IJC first endorsed the concept, Lake Superior is still the last best place in the Great Lakes to emphasize protection and to accomplish ambitious goals. This is also the time to reconstitute the Lake Superior Binational Forum, especially with inclusion of tribal and First Nation governments in a new Lake Superior Binational Program agreement.
Thank you for your consideration.
Comments and recommendations on the Progress Report of the Parties 2019, authored by Environmental Defence Canada, Toxics Free Great Lakes Network and Canadian Environmental Law Association, are in attached file.
Please see the attached comments from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission.
I grew up on the shores of Lake Erie on the old glacial ridge south of the lake. From this vantage point, I could see the lake clearly from the picture windows at my parents house. Much of my childhood and formative years were spent watching the weather change over the lake, and later the changing development along the shores. In my years as an undergraduate in landscape architecture, I learned how the extreme pollution of the lake helped to galvanize the environmental movement in the 60’s and the formation of the IJC. At that time, the actions that were taken were transformational, and much needed to help change the course and health of the lake. We are again at a time when there is need for transformational change, and I am asking the IJC to once again take a leadership role in promoting that change.
Globally, there has been a movement towards recognizing the rights of nature. This movement acknowledges that nature has a right to exist, separate from whatever services or benefits humans may receive from her. Communities that have codified rights of nature into their constitutions, city charters, or ordinances do so to guarantee the highest possible protections to critical ecosystems, plants, and water bodies. These communities also take on the responsibility of enforcing these rights, as the rights are often violated by corporate actions. We know from scientists around the world, that now is the time to act. Please recognize the need for creative action and consider how the IJC could recognize the rights of nature.