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Earth Day Turns 45: Successes and Challenges in Western New York


Posted: April 23, 2015
Originally Published: April 22, 2015

LANCASTER and BUFFALO, N.Y. -- On Cayuga Creek, officials with the Department of Environmental Conservation spent Earth Day releasing rainbow trout at various points along a milelong stretch of the creek in Como Lake Park.

"We're stocking Cayuga Creek as an effort to enhance fishing opportunities in the Greater Buffalo area. Cayuga Creek is a great site for this because it offers unlimited fishing access, over a mile and a half stretch of creek," said aquabiologist Michael Todd.

In Buffalo, it's enhancing the city's recycling program.

"We're talking about our new comprehensive advertising campaign to educate and promote recycling in the city, '34 and More.' Thirty-four percent recycling is the national average and we want to not only reach the national average but exceed it," said Mayor Byron Brown, D-Buffalo.

Earth Day was created 45 years ago to raise awareness about the environment. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said we've come a long way since then.

“The state of the environment is definitely improving. We've done a much better job of cleaning up our old industrial sites where they can be used for new purposes now, the waterways are much cleaner than they used to be and I think people have a greater understanding of the need to recycle not just throw out things," said Poloncarz, D-Erie County.

Some environmental activists say, as far as we've come, there's still a long way to go.

"We can't simply rest on the successes we've had. We, particularly in Western New York, we're disproportionately burdened with toxic waste from year and years ago. We still have a long, long way to go toward making the investments necessary to make those cleanups a reality," said Brian Smith, Citizens Campaign for the Environment.