Assemblymember Rivera and Supervisor Hoak Join Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper for Spring Sweep

AM Rivera also celebrates state budget victories that will go toward protecting WNY waterways

Buffalo – Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera joined Hamburg Town Supervisor Randy Hoak for Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s Spring Sweep event at Woodlawn Beach, the largest single-day cleanup across Western New York, on Earth Day Weekend.

Simultaneously, Assemblymember Rivera, in partnership and coordination with Sen. Sean Ryan’s office, held their annual Woodlawn Beach Cleanup event.

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s Spring Sweep event is part of the second annual Great Lakes Cleanup, a program developed and led by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper that is bringing 18 partner organizations across the Great Lakes basin together this year to clean up the shores of the Great Lakes over a two-week period. The effort is expected to make a significant impact on the Great Lakes Cleanup goal to remove over 68 metric tons of trash from the Great Lakes by the end of May.

Litter pollution in the Great Lakes basin is increasing, as evidenced by the 250% increase single-use plastics use since the start of the pandemic, and poses a threat to the 40 million people who get their drinking water from the Great Lakes, as well as the habitats of native fish and wildlife species.

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, a community-based non-profit organization that protects and restores our waters and surrounding ecosystems, is leading efforts to prioritize local initiatives that will make for cleaner, greener communities.

Assemblymember Rivera also touted environmental victories within this year’s state budget.

This fall, New York voters will consider the $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act meant to shore up the state’s infrastructure to curtail the worst effects of climate change. If approved, the bond will include:

  • $1.1 billion for flood risk reduction and restoration 
  • $1.5 billion for climate change mitigation 
  • $650 million for open space conservation and recreation 
  • $650 million for water quality improvement 

Additionally, New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) received an historic level of funding – $400 million – through this year’s budget. The fund is utilized for capital projects that protect the environment and enhance communities across the state.

Western New York-specific appropriations include:

  • Lake Erie Watershed Protection Alliance ($250,000) 
  • Ocean and Great Lakes Initiative: Great Lakes Commission ($60,000) 
  • Water Quality Improvement Program: Source Water Protection Plans ($5,000,000 – a portion will likely be invested in WNY through engagement with WNY municipalities) 
  • Waterfront Revitalization Program: Niagara River Greenway Commission ($200,000) 
  • Tifft Nature Preserve Accessibility Trail ($350,000)

Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “New York state has taken great strides over the past decade in prioritizing green energy initiatives and legislation that will facilitate sustainability for the health of our Great Lakes and waterways, but there’s still much work to be done. I want to thank Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper for their relentless advocacy to keep our water clean. Spring Sweep represents a terrific opportunity to remind ourselves about the fragility of the environment we fight for, the immediacy of our efforts, and the appreciation we have for groups like BN Waterkeeper who lead us in the right direction.”

State Sen. Sean Ryan said, “In Buffalo, we often take for granted that we have one of the world's great natural resources right in our backyard. As a community, it is imperative we serve as good stewards of Lake Erie and preserve it for future generations. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is a great community-rooted organization, and I thank them for their continuous efforts to protect the Great Lakes Basin. Their work will help ensure we have access to clean water, sustainable ecosystems, and a healthy populace for many years to come.”

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka said, “New York is a Great Lakes state, and protection of our globally significant resources often falls on the shoulders of frontline communities and organizations. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is honored to lead this effort, and we are grateful for our dedicated citizen volunteers, our local mission partners, and the EPA’s support for this multi-state, multi-lake collaborative effort.We are thrilled to be able to work with other environmental groups and our fellow Waterkeeper organizations around the Great Lakes, who are some of the most effective water advocates in the world. Our collective action is intended to benefit the health and future of the millions of people and species that call the Great Lakes Basin their home, and we can’t wait to once again mobilize thousands of citizen volunteers in these clean-up efforts.”