New York updates Great Lakes Action Agenda for restoration, resilience & revitalization of state’s climate-vulnerable communities

On July 19, 2023, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released an updated New York’s Great Lakes Action Agenda (GLAA) 2023, a strategic, ecosystem-based action plan to guide restoration and conservation, while fostering sustainable, resilient communities in New York’s Great Lakes region.

This plan is one of the few that integrates restoration, resilience and economic revitalization, as documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity. This approach is far more efficient and effective, since all three agendas are best achieved via the same basic activities: repurposing, renewing and reconnecting an area’s natural, built and socioeconomic assets.

The GLAA advances a wide range of efforts to safeguard water quality, improve habitats for fish and wildlife, manage invasive species, promote sustainability, and enhance community resilience to climate change.

The region spans more than 40 percent of New York State’s land area and includes Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and contributing watersheds.

The updated Great Lakes Action Agenda builds on the strong partnerships established under the first Agenda released in 2014, which is helping guide the successful implementation of projects to benefit the region’s environment, public health, and economy,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said.

The Great Lakes Action Agenda sustains and strengthens DEC’s collaborative relationships with federal, State, and local partners and ensures present and future generations are able to enjoy the Great Lakes for years to come,” he added.

The updated GLAA integrates new actions to advance New York’s priorities to implement natural and nature-based resilience measures, protect drinking water sources, and address emerging contaminants. New cross-cutting priorities reflect New York’s commitment to inclusion and engagement of diverse stakeholders and historically underserved and disadvantaged communities.

The GLAA also includes new metrics to evaluate implementation progress and improvements in environmental conditions over time. The updated Action Agenda is available on the DEC website.

Building on the foundation of the first GLAA released in 2014, the updated plan provides a shared vision and blueprint for achieving healthy Great Lakes lands and waters through coordinated, collective action by the many federal, state, and local partner organizations working throughout the watershed.

The GLAA is funded by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), under the Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act, and is administered through DEC’s Great Lakes Program with collaborating stakeholders and partners.

The EPF is a critical resource for environmental programs such as climate change mitigation, land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, recreation access, water quality improvement, and environmental justice projects.

Among the many environmental victories in the 2023-24 State Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul maintained EPF funding at $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history.

The release of the updated GLAA coincides with the development of the fourth federal action plan for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which will guide federal restoration and protection investments in the region through 2029. Since 2010, nearly $270 million in GLRI funding has been secured for Great Lakes projects in New York State.

Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted an in-person public engagement session in Rochester on July 19. The session was an opportunity for interested stakeholders to learn more about the GLRI and its action plan that guides EPA’s restoration and protection priorities, and to provide input on key priorities that support New York’s GLAA.

Comments or questions can be shared with EPA by emailing

DEC’s Great Lakes Program will also be hosting public engagement workshops and sub-basin work group meetings within New York’s Great Lakes sub-basins to facilitate additional partnerships, support local priorities for implementation, and engage with underserved and environmental justice areas to benefit from GLAA implementation.

Photo of Rochester waterfront via Pixabay.

See the Great Lakes Restoration website.

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