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The Great Lakes Commission Elects Mary Mertz as Chair

Mary Mertz

Posted on December 18, 2023

Oregon, Ohio – At its Annual Meeting, held this week on the shores of Lake Erie in Oregon, Ohio, the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) elected a new chair and vice chair and passed resolutions calling for reform of U.S Army Corps of Engineers project partnership agreements and increased funding for dredging of small harbors in the Great Lakes basin.

“It’s my honor to be elected chair of the Great Lakes Commission,” said new GLC Chair Mary Mertz, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “In my role as director of the ODNR, I’m proud to be implementing our H2Ohio campaign to restore and create wetlands in key locations across Ohio, focusing on the Lake Erie watershed. I look forward to bringing this energy to protecting our other incredible bodies of water in the Great Lakes basin.”

Timothy Bruno, coordinator of the Great Lakes program at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, was elected vice chair of the GLC. The 2023 Annual Meeting featured a conversation with award-winning journalist Dan Egan on his recent book regarding phosphorus and its role in creating harmful algae blooms (HABs) and “dead zones” in waterways including Lake Erie. Great Lakes Commissioners also heard from an expert panel on HABs, as well as panels on other topics including community restoration and protection, bird conservation and dredging and water levels in Great Lakes channels. During meeting breaks, students from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Conservation Teen Advisory Council presented their work on Great Lakes topics.

The Annual Meeting was the last for Todd Ambs in his role as chair. Ambs, a longtime Great Lakes conservationist, former deputy director of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and leader of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, will remain a commissioner representing the state of Wisconsin.

“It has been an honor to serve as chair of the Great Lakes Commission over the last two years. For 68 years, this commission has engaged in such important work – to do all that we can for the benefit of the most significant surface freshwater resources on the planet – our Great Lakes.”

The GLC will next convene in Washington, D.C. for its Semiannual Meeting and Great Lakes Day in March 2024. More information will be available on in advance of the meeting.

The Great Lakes Commission, led by chair Mary Mertz, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, is a binational government agency established in 1955 to protect the Great Lakes and the economies and ecosystems they support. Its membership includes leaders from the eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces in the Great Lakes basin. The GLC recommends policies and practices to balance the use, development, and conservation of the water resources of the Great Lakes and brings the region together to work on issues that no single community, state, province, or nation can tackle alone. Learn more at

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