New York's Great Lakes: Ecosystem Education Exchange

Great Lakes Issues and Downloadable Resources 


Issues are divided by subtopics based on the interim Great Lakes Action Agenda Goals. The goals are intended to establish a framework for specific strategic actions. Actions are drawn from numerous existing plans, including state and federal initiatives, as identified in the interim Great Lakes Action Agenda.


Goal 1: Toxic Substances
Goal 2: Sediment, Nutrient and Pathogen Loading
Goal 3: Areas of Concern

Goal 4: Invasive Species
Goal 5: Native Fish and Wildlife Biodiversity and Habitats
Goal 6: Great Lakes Water Supplies


Goal 7: Community Resiliency and Ecosystem Integrity
Goal 8: Smart Growth, Redevelopment and Adaptive Reuse
Goal 9: Recreation and Tourism
Goal 10: Energy Development

Downloadable Resources

Goal 1: Toxic Substances back to top

Learn About Chemicals and Toxics U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency uses sound science to help protect our health and environment from toxic chemicals. EPA also provides information about specific chemicals and how you can protect yourself, your family and your community from toxics.

Inforgraphic: How PFAS Cycle Through the Environment
PFAS chemicals cycle thorough the environment in the air, water, soil and sediments - and can eventually accumulate in fish, wildlife and people.

Goal 2: Sediment, Nutrient and Pathogen loading back to top

Top Water Quality Issues NYS Department of Environmental Conservation 
The NYSDEC Water Quality Assessment Program has identified the top ten most prevalent causes/sources of water quality impact/impairment in the assessed waters of New York State.

How's My Waterway Tool U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Informing the conversation about your waters

Water Quality Information NYS Department of Environmental Conservation 
NYSDEC conducts various programs aimed at measuring and reporting on the quality of waters in New York State. These programs involve collecting monitoring data on rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters, evaluating these results, and reporting the water quality information to the public.

Goal 3: Areas of Concern back to top

Areas of Concern NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Areas of Concern (AOC) are geographic areas around the Great Lakes that are environmentally degraded. Six Areas of Concern were designated in New York.

Goal 4: Invasive Species back to top

Invasive Species of Lakes Erie and Ontario
A New York Sea Grant published fact sheet about invasive species of Lake Erie and Ontario

New York Invasive Species Information 
New York Invasive Species Information (NYIS.INFO) is your gateway to science-based information, breaking news and events, and innovative tools for coping with biological invaders in New York. NYIS.INFO links scientists, local, state and federal resource managers, policy setters, educators, and grassroots efforts to help you become part of the battle against invasive species in New York.

iMapInvasives provides an on-line, GIS-based data management system to assist citizen scientists and natural resource managers working to protect natural resources from the threat of invasive species.

NY Invasive Species Research Institute- Cornell University
The mission of the New York Invasive Species Research Institute is to coordinate invasive species research to help prevent and manage the impact of invasive species in New York State.

NY Great Lakes Clearinghouse 
The New York's Great Lakes website is a clearinghouse of information about the Great Lakes region of New York State and act as a portal through which users can access specific resources related to the Great Lakes.

Goal 5: Native Fish and Wildlife Biodiversity and Habitats back to top

New York State Wildlife Action Plan

A wildlife action plan serves as a state's guiding document for managing and conserving species and habitats before they become too rare or costly to restore. Congress charged states and territories to develop a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) in 2002. Collectively, these plans assess the health of a state's wildlife and habitats, identify the problems they face and outline the actions that are needed to conserve them over the long term. Details on New York's wildlife action plan and more are available on this page.

Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Plan 2014 
The International Joint Commission, after 14 years of scientific study and public engagement, advanced Plan 2014 as the preferred option for regulating Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River water levels and flows. Plan 2014 is designed to provide for more natural variations of water levels of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River that are needed to restore ecosystem health. It will continue to moderate extreme high and low levels, better maintain system-wide levels for navigation, frequently extend the recreational boating season and slightly increase hydropower production. More year-to-year variation in water levels improves coastal health.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Goal 6: Great Lakes Water Supplies back to top

Great Lakes St. Lawrence Water Resources Council
The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (Compact Council) was established on December 8, 2008, when the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact became State and federal law. The Compact details how the States will work together to manage and protect the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin. It also provides a framework for each State to enact programs and laws protecting the Basin.

Water Withdrawal, Conservation & Drought

Information Regarding DEC's Water Management Programs. DEC is entrusted with the regulatory authority over dams in order to protect people against the loss of life and property.

Goal 7: Community Resiliency and Ecosystem Integrity back to top

Community Risk and Resiliency Act
This page is a central source for information about all work underway or completed at New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on implementation of the Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA).

Climate Change Science Clearinghouse 

The New York Climate Change Science Clearinghouse (NYCCSC) is a gateway for policymakers, local planners, and the public to identify and access documents, data, websites, tools, and maps relevant to climate change adaptation and mitigation across New York State. The goal of the NYCCSC is to support scientifically sound and cost-effective decision-making. The vision is a dynamic site where users can find information in multiple ways, including through interactive tools that use data from different sources.

Goal 8: Smart Growth, Redevelopment and Adaptive Reuse back to top

Smart Growth 
Smart Growth is sensible, planned growth that integrates economic development and job creation with community quality-of-life by preserving the built and natural environments. Smart Growth seeks to discourage development on open space and farmland and encourage growth in developed areas with existing infrastructure.

Goal 9: Recreation and Tourism back to top

I Love NY
Great adventures and cultural treasures await you on beaches, mountains, farms, rivers, wine trails, country lanes, and city sidewalks. Explore historic sites, abundant waters, and natural wonders. Follow a scenic byway or a high peaks trail.

Great Lakes Seaway Trail 
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail stretches 454 miles from its northernmost international bridge at Massena, NY to its Seaway Trail Pennsylvania link on Lake Erie, and continues another 64 miles to the Ohio line. The signed driving route connects historic villages and vibrant cities with scenic landscapes and diverse destinations along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Niagara River and Lake Erie.

Eastern Lake Ontario Dunes & Wetlands
The sand dunes along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario are an integral part of a coastal barrier environment that consists of beaches, sand dunes, embayments and wetlands. This barrier system, which extends for roughly 17 miles, contains the largest and most extensive freshwater sand dune formations in New York State. discover more about this fascinating coastal environment, including it's flora and fauna, the trails and boat routes available, and how you can help protect this area. 

Goal 10: Energy Development back to top

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, known as NYSERDA, promotes energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. These efforts are key to developing a less polluting and more reliable and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers. Collectively, NYSERDA’s efforts aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, accelerate economic growth, and reduce customer energy bills.


Climate Change LIVE 
Welcome to the ClimateChangeLIVE distance learning adventure! The U.S. Forest Service and 26 federal and NGO partners bring climate learning to you through a series of webcasts, webinars, and online climate education resources! The ClimateChangeLIVE electronic field trips are a way to learn about climate change science directly from climate experts, educators, and students. Activities can be found here

Directory of Great Lakes Educational Material 
The Directory of Great Lakes Educational Material, published by the International Joint Commission (IJC) in 1994, is a comprehensive listing of educational materials available on issues relating to the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence basin. The Directory includes books, audio-visual and instructional materials, newsletters and other educational resources, compiled as a result of a monumental effort of surveying and interviewing over 5,000 educators and producers of educational materials. Sources of additional Great Lakes programs such as grant foundations and resource centers, are also listed alphabetically.

Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory - NOAA 
Brochures and Information Sheets for download from the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory website. These resources include many topics, some of which include bathymetry, restoration initiatives, aquatic invasive species, Great Lakes foodwebs and more. 

Map of NY’s Great Lakes Basin 
This map shows the Great Lakes basin, or watershed, in New York. The green shaded area is New York's Great Lakes basin. Water in the basin flows to Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the Niagara River, and the St. Lawrence River.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Resources
K-12 students and educators need access to quality homework resources, lesson plans and project ideas to learn and teach about the environment. Environmental education is a multi-disciplinary approach to learning about environmental issues that enhances knowledge, builds critical thinking skills and helps students make informed and responsible decisions.

Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators 
Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators (WAVE) is citizen-based water quality assessment developed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. The purpose of WAVE is to enable citizen scientists to collect biological data for assessment of water quality on wadeable streams in NY State.

Water Cycle Music Video
A student created a music video on Water Sampling Techniques and Water Quality Research as part of the Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Program.

What is a Watershed? 

A watershed is the land that water flows across or under on its way to a river, lake, stream or bay. Water travels over farm fields, forests, suburban lawns and city streets, or it seeps into the soil and travels as groundwater. Watersheds are separated from each other by high points, such as hills or slopes. Visit NYDEC NYS Watersheds webpage for information on New York's 17 major watersheds (or "basins").

World Geography 101: The Great Lakes    
A video in the series by the YouTuber, KnowledgeHub, teaching the basic geography of important regions or areas. This video was created to discuss the different parts of history and try to bring a new perspective on education taught in schools.

New York Sea Grant Home *  NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Home

This website was developed with funding from the Environmental Protection Fund, in support of the Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act of 2006. 

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