Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin
Signatory Statements: One Year Later
Since its release in October 1994, more than 160 agencies and organizations throughout the region have endorsed the Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin, pledging to support its principles and work toward a common vision that calls for a clean environment, strong economy and high quality of life for basin residents.
As a result, the charter has gained international recognition and is
being used as a model for similar ecosystem management initiatives
elsewhere in North America and throughout the world.
To mark the first anniversary of its public release, signatory agencies and organizations were invited to review their efforts to implement the charter, and explain how they have benefited from the document and used it to guide their activities.
Canandaigua Lake Watershed Task Force
When we were having difficulties organizing and managing information from an area with the size and complexity of our watershed, the Ecosystem Charter was published and made us feel more comfortable with our task. In preparing the State of the Canandaigua Lake Watershed-1994 a document assessing the health, problems and remedial actions needed the charter gave us an idea to facilitate that process: we would create a compact for the Canandaigua Lake watershed that would morally bind a group committed to solving the problems. In a series of meetings and, borrowing freely from the Ecosystem Charter, the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Compact was framed.
Great Lakes Pollution Prevention Centre
The Great Lakes Pollution Prevention Centre has used the principles as a key reference in the
development of training materials and information clearing services. The Ecosystem Charter was
used as one of the guiding references for the development of the GLPPC's Strategic Plan for
1995-1998, and is a valuable guide for prioritizing workplans. The Ecosystem Charter principles
provide a consistency of purpose when collaborating with other agencies and resources in the
Great Lakes region.
Ducks Unlimited, Inc. and Ducks Unlimited, Canada
Ducks Unlimited will use the Ecosystem Charter in the development of new, and the expansion
of current, landscape level programs in public and private partnership. As an international
organization, it will help solidify our international habitat restoration programs throughout the
Great Lakes region. The charter will serve as the foundation from which Ducks Unlimited will
build partnerships with public and private agencies, organizations, corporations and landowners
as we further our mission to protect, restore and enhance waterfowl habitat in the watersheds of
the Great Lakes.
The Ecosystem Charter has complemented the focus taken by Ducks Unlimited in Ontario under
the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The top priority area in this province for
delivery of our upland and wetland conservation programs is within the Great Lakes-St.
Lawrence Basin, most notably at Long Pt. Bay and the Lake St. Clair/lower Detroit River
system. The charter has been one of the catalysts encouraging our development of long-term
strategies, in concert with partner agencies, to secure and rehabilitate these continentally
National Park Service
The National Park Service firmly believes that the charter has stimulated each unit to work much
more closely with neighboring land management agencies, local communities, and other
organizations in carrying out the charter's basic principles. In the long term, the NPS believes
that the greatest benefit derived from our endorsement of the charter will be the fostering of an
institutional environment in which NPS functions as a more integral part of the Great Lakes
community, thus lending support to NPS's basic mission of preserving and protecting the natural
and cultural resources and providing for visitor enjoyment.
National Association of Conservation Districts, North Central Region
Conservation districts have always been interested in managing natural resources from an
integrated ecosystem management perspective. Whole farm planning and watershed activities
sponsored by districts incorporate these principles. In recognition of this, NACD formed a
special committee on the Great Lakes to integrate the activities of the 207 districts in the basin.
The Ecosystem Charter was reviewed formally by the committee with our activities aimed at
keeping the ecosystem healthy by reducing sediment into our water bodies and helping to restore
the health of the ecosystem through a wide variety of activities, including wetland restoration.
Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs
We have used the Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin to inform students
and colleagues about the ecosystem concept and its practical application. It also has proved
useful in identifying the institutional and political problems that require solution if the
ecosystem concept is to be implemented. The charter can be used as a
case-in-point in the study of intergovernmental cooperation.
Commission for Environmental Cooperation
The Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin fills an important niche in the
Great Lakes family of collaborative institutions. Like the nonbinding preambles of international
conventions, it invites support without demanding a level of obligation that exceeds the comfort
level or capacity of those who sign on. The CEC has distributed many copies of the charter and
witnessed its positive impact beyond the Great Lakes Basin. Participants in the Northern River
Basins Study a multijurisdictional and multistakeholder study on the cumulative impacts of
development on the Peacc, Athabasca and Slavc River System have been encouraged to see the
charter as a possible model for that region. The charter also was one of the documents that
influenced drafts of a statement which eventually became a North American resolution on Sound
Management of Chemicals.
Northwest Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council
A number of organizations and agencies in northern Michigan are giving consideration to a
"regional" Ecosystem Charter, which is being modeled after the Ecosystem Charter for the Great
Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin. The Ecosystem Charter for Northern Lower Michigan is being
developed to assist us as we deal with growth management and other issues related to a rapidly
growing area. At present this effort is in its very early stages, and we are continuing to pursue
partnerships to involve a significant number and diversity of agencies and organizations in the
northern lower Michigan ecosystem.
Waterfront Regeneration Trust
The Waterfront Regeneration Trust has developed the Lake Ontario Greenway Strategy with the
goal of fostering commitment to actions that will regenerate a healthy and sustainable waterfront.
The vision of the trust and its many partners is complimentary to and consistent with the vision
espoused by the Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin. Both the strategy
and the charter provide a context for setting priorities and guidance on ways to achieve this
Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
The Ecosystem Charter addresses principles of ecosystem management which are of special
importance to the kinds of research undertaken regionally by GLERL as part of the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We believe there is much to be gained by cooperating
with other federal and state agencies, academia and our Canadian colleagues in collaborative
research on issues addressed in the charter. In this time of changing national priorities,
downsizing government and tight budgets, it is important to have a charter that addresses the
ecosystem approach and the need to cooperate to make the best use of resources for sound
Saint Lawrence Economic Development Council
The Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin inspired SODES to develop and
promote the St. Lawrence River Code of Ethics. The code of ethics is a set of principles proposed
for every user of the St. Lawrence River. These principles are aimed at increasing awareness and
respectful use of the river ecosystem. SODES will invite users (companies within the maritime
community, organizations, governments) to sign the code and implement its principles. In
addition, SODES will further promote the Ecosystem Charter within the St. Lawrence Region as
soon as a French version is available.
Williams Soil and Water Conservation District, Ohio
The Ecosystem Charter will provide guidance to us as we develop our long-range plan and
thereafter our annual workplan. The charter will foster cooperation with other organizations and
help direct us as individuals to act as stewards of this great global resource.
Puget Sound/Georgia Basin International Task Force
While our Environmental Initiative lies outside of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin effort, the
Ecosystem Charter has been helpful in demonstrating how another part of the country frames the
concept of ecological management of its aquatic resources. The Puget Sound/Georgia Basin
Environmental Initiative is focused on improving management of the marine environment in the
shared waters between British Columbia and Washington. In the future, as we expand our efforts,
we are hopeful that we will develop the breadth of the Ecosystem Charter in our management
efforts as well.
Ninth Coast Guard District, Marine Safety Division
The Ecosystem Charter is a valuable structure for coordination with the Great Lakes
environmental community. In order to accomplish our environmental missions, we must engage
in partnerships with other agencies and interests in the Great Lakes region. Thus, the Great Lakes
Commission and the Ecosystem Charter perform an essential service to use in helping us form
those partnerships. We are quite satisfied with the language of the charter. It is a balanced and
well-conceived vision. But the most important thing is that it is an expression of the common
vision of the whole Great Lakes community a model for the whole world, as well as the two
nations of how governments, industries, local communities and scientific institutions can work
together to protect a common resource.
Huron River Watershed Council
The Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin has greatly benefited the work of
the Huron River Watershed Council over the past year. Both directly and indirectly, its vision
and principles have guided us in reformulating the council's mission statement, in coordinating
our programs to provide a more holistic approach to protecting the ecological integrity of the
Huron River ecosystem (as part of the greater Lake Erie and St. Lawrence drainage), and in
developing a strategic plan to take us to the year 2000. The Ecosystem Charter also will soon be
used as a model in developing a watershed partnership agreement for the Huron River Basin.
Lake Michigan Marina Development Commission
The guidance provided by the Ecosystem Charter's vision statement and principles has arrived at
a pivotal time for Indiana's Lake Michigan shoreline region. During the past year, the Ecosystem
Charter provided the foundation on which the six Lake Michigan Marina Development cities
updated their regional development plan. It also has served as a positive influence on
development plans for gaming boats along the Indiana shoreline. With the Portage Public Marina
currently under construction, application of the Ecosystem Charter's principles is apparent in the
environmentally sensitive design and construction of this new public amenity. Additionally, the
charter's principles supporting cooperation between agencies and provision of information and
education on basinwide issues, underpin the Lake Michigan Marina Development Commission's
continued active involvement in the International Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Mayors'
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
The mission of Indiana's Department of Natural Resources is "to protect, enhance, preserve, and
wisely use" the state's natural, cultural and recreational resources. The Ecosystem Charter's
vision statement and principles serve as guideposts for the department in the fulfillment of that
mission within the Great Lakes Basin. The charter is a constant reminder of the need to follow an
ecosystem approach to resource management as departmental Great Lakes Basin programs and
activities are reviewed, modified or implemented. In addition, most of the principles also are
applicable throughout the remainder of the state and can be incorporated into programs outside
the Great Lakes Basin.
Wisconsin Great Lakes Nonpoint Abatement Coalition
The Wisconsin Great Lakes Nonpoint Abatement Coalition, an organization of 28 county Soil
and Water Conservation Departments, has employed principles V, IX and XIV since becoming a
charter signatory. Program activities included a presentation by Native American nations
regarding their ideas for sustainable resource and ecosystem management on tribal lands. We
also are participating in a study of rotational dairy cattle grazing and its sustainability with water
quality and wildlife. To emphasize partnership arrangements in the Wisconsin Lake Michigan
Basin area, we are reorganizing our dues structure to encourage citizens, private sector and other
interests to join. Also, to encourage cooperation among county governments in the basin, we will
be developing a networking system to share information and technology regarding nonpoint
pollution abatement in the basin.
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community
The Ecosystem Charter is of assistance in establishing management strategies for various
environmental resources present in the basin. Over the past year, the Keweenaw Bay Indian
Community found the charter to be a source of inspiration in applying for a grant from the Great
Lakes Protection Fund to support our Ecosystem Stewardship Program: Great Lakes Tribal
Lands.The overall goal of the Ecosystem Stewardship Program is to institute a process that
enables tribal leaders to effectively establish land use planning and management strategies based
on information about the natural resources and the risks that these resources face.
League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania
The Ecosystem Charter principles provided a helpful model for the League's 1996 Common
Ground Project on Water Resources Management, which brought together representatives of
major water user groups to assess the need for a more comprehensive water management system
in Pennsylvania. Development of consensus on a set of principles was viewed as a necessary first
step in forming a program to address the variety of water management issues across the state.
International Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Mayors' Conference
The International Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Mayors' Conference is actively implementing the
Ecosystem Charter by adopting and distributing resolutions to promote and increase awareness of
the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem among shoreline communities. The resolutions adopted
at the 1995 meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, are aimed at supporting the SODES' Code of Ethics
for users of the St. Lawrence River; and supporting the Montreal Biosphere initiative, the first
Canadian environmental observation center dedicated to water and the protection of the Great
Lakes-St. Lawrence ecosystem and its plan to collect sewage treatment water quality data from
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence waterfront municipalities.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Central Division
The charter's principles of ecosystem management are integrated in our daily activities. Through
our regulatory program we strive to work cooperatively with states to protect our natural
resources. As part of the operation and maintenance of Great Lakes ports and harbors, we have
developed partnerships to address environmental concerns, most notably at Indiana, Ashtabula
and Toledo harbors. We have developed partnerships with selected state departments of natural
resources to assist in solving environmental problems. We have entered into agreement with the
Great Lakes Fishery Commission to help control sea lamprey and are currently working on a
proposal to trap sea lamprey at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Finally, we support the IJC and are
involved with the Remedial Action Plans for the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. North Central
Division will continue to support the vision and principles of the Ecosystem Charter, within our
authorities and policies along with the other signatories. In the spirit of the Corps' motto,
Essayons!. . . Let us try!
Great Lakes Commission
Over the past year, the Ecosystem Charter has become a vital
component of the Great Lakes Commission's priority-setting
process. It is used as a benchmark in developing biannual work
plans, and in screening policy issues for potential Commission
activity. We have found it to be an effective advocacy tool at
the Congressional level; it is unique because it offers an
unprecedented, consensus-based view of commonly-held principles.
Also the Ecosystem Charter provided the foundation for our
recently-released Strategic Plan, which will guide the Great
Lakes Commission into the next century.
Chocolay River Watershed Project
Our watershed project has relied on the Ecosystem Charter for the
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin as a constant reminder that our
local efforts are part of a much larger common goal. The
Chocolay River Watershed Project has had a beneficial impact on
local rivers and Lake Superior, but it is important for council
members to remember that the project is also meeting the
objectives of the Ecosystem Charter. People are more inspired
when they are aware that their efforts go beyond their local
watershed, beyond Lake Superior and include the entire Great
We are glad to be part of your work to promote sensible
guidelines for development in the Great Lakes watershed. This
is a consensus document and should help lead the way for sound
policies that are based on ecological as well as economic
Lelanau Conservation District (MI)
We are in the preliminary phase of comprehensive long range
planning. The Ecosystem Charter is one tool we will be able to
use in this endeavor. We would also be likely to use the
language of the charter in writing grant proposals.
Cuyahog Soil and Water Conservation District (OH)
The Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District has used the
Ecosystem Charter as background and support for selecting
priority work items as well as for support in obtaining
funding/staff from groups outside the Great Lakes Basin.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
The principles of the Charter are consistent with the mission of
the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and with agency
responsibilities to provide fishing and boating opportunities.
The Charter supports and reinforces our agency's commitment to a
broad focus on social, environmental, and fish community
interrelationships as we strive to achieve a healthy ecosystem
and a stable, balanced fish community in Lake Erie.
St. Lawrence Aquarium and Ecological Center
The St. Lawrence Aquarium and Ecological Center, a project
dedicated to education, research, and interpretation is moving
toward construction and completion in Massena, NY. Education and
research programs, many of which are international in scope, have
been guided by selected objectives of the Ecosystem Charter, of
which the St. Lawrence Aquarium and Ecological Center was an
original signatory. In May of 1995, the Center was a co-sponsor
of the Second Annual Ecosystem Recovery confernce on the St.
Lawrence River held in Cornwall, Ontario. Nearly 300 scientists,
educators, and students from a number of countries attended. The
next conference is in the planning stages and obviously this
helps fulfill many of the Principles of the Charter.
Michigan State University Center for Maritime and
Underwater Resource Management
The Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin
recognizes that all people are an important part of their
ecosystem, and that people have rights and responsibilities in
stewardship of natural and cultural resources. This vision and
other principles of the Charter greatly influenced the Great
Lakes Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Resources in
developing a collaborative stewardship ethic and principles for
stakeholders in our maritime heritage. The Conference plans to
provide many opportunities for public input and endorsement of
the stewardship ethic in the moths ahead, and looks forward to
coordinating its efforts with the Ecosystem Charter.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3
The Fish and Wildlife Service embraces the vision and principles
of the Ecosystem Charter for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin,
as exemplified by the Service becoming a signatory. The Service
has long acknowledged the soundness of the ecosystem-based
philosophy expressed in the Ecosystem Charter and has been
operating consistent with this philosophy for years. The guiding
principles expressed in the Ecosystem Charter are being embodied
in the Service's ecosystem-based management approach at the
national level, in general, and win the Great Lakes ecosystem,
specifically. The Ecosystem Charter will serve as a unifying
force by bringing together all those who share in the common
vision for the Grea Lakes ecosystem.
Wexford Soil and Water Conservation District
The ecosystem approach spearheaded by the Great Lakes Commission
truly exemplifies the importance of partnerships. This is truly
the greatest single watershed document that helps to protect one
of the world's most beautiful ecosystems. The Wexford Soil and
Water Conservation District will publish in local papers and
newsletters part or all of the Ecosystem Charter and develop
special projects based on Ecosystem Charter principles. The
District has signified their endorsement of the Ecosystem Charter
and will utilize the document in the development of workpland,
projects and future goals.