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December 30, 2015     Post 69
Ecosystem Based Management

Goethe, "At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assure your success."

We're still waiting...

Recently the Log on Line blogger ventured out of her backwoods poison ivy patch to attend a Syracuse workshop of mostly managers with a few educators and unpaid 'stakeholders' present. The topic was cleaning up and restoring Lake Ontario's watershed using something called “EBM” (ecosystem based management).

I admired the displayed map of the watershed being remediated with the help of many millions of GLRI (Great Lakes Restoration Initiative) U.S. dollars. I noted only half an ecosystem up there. Before long I opened my ignorant mouth and asked “Uh, what happened to Canada?

Oh, that's the LAMPs area of jurisdiction -they take care of the whole lake, a polite gray haired gent explained patiently.

Study of the handout on the group's priorities for remediation and action showed a lack of what Sherri Mason calls POP's (persistent organic pollutants) legacy toxic materials from old leaking dumps, “emerging concern” pollutants like endocrine disruptor's, antibiotics etc. Nor did I see mention of the ever increasing lake wide level of tritium or “migration” of radionuclides from the various FUSRAP sites like LOOW's NFSS (see “Saving The Beautiful Lake” book to find out what those various letter strings stand for).

A more astute observer than I, pointed out why should the workshop managers worry about concerns they have no jurisdiction over? They have to pick their battles and remediate what they do have some ability to regulate with their limited resources.

He's right of course. But I worry the communication between the state based silos and the silos that contain the EPA, NOAA, NYCERDA, the NRC, DOE, OMNR and/or all the various other agencies that regulate plutonium, dibenzofuran compounds, Canadian sewage, manure, or feminizing hormone mimics that sterilize bass.

Paul Baines, who discussed the Great Lakes Commons with us on camera for our video project, mentions the past work of the IJC and its associated scientists as an example that has some of the breadth needed by commons management. Getting that seamless effortless communications network in place should be possible with today's Internet based video conferencing tools. But who will initiate that? Who will work out the details like the firewalls that prevent government employees from using Google docs and the many other technical barriers and obstacles?

Over lunch pizza I was surprised to hear a manager describing the commons as a valid and needed concept. He had learned of it in an academic setting. It would have been fascinating to explore with him how we might begin to actually make it work. How do we implement this idea? As Baines told us, the commoners must have real influence and authority. How does that happen? How does a stakeholder become a commoner? And just as important, how does a Lake Ontario resident come to see him or herself as a stakeholder?

Joanne Hameister will keep going to all those NYCERDA and DOE meetings. Sherri Mason will keep teaching her students about POP's. I will keep writing. Stay tuned.

Keep an eye on the Great Lakes Commons website www.greatlakescommons.org . If you know of a group effort or a good story, put it up on the Great Lakes Commons map.

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