By Sally Cole-Misch, IJC
What would drive someone to return to work after retiring with 38 years of public service? Passion for the Great Lakes, says David Burden, who was welcomed as the new director of the IJC’s binational Great Lakes Regional Office in Windsor, Ontario, on June 4.
“My career has always involved water but the Great Lakes quickly become a part of your DNA,” Burden said. “You can’t come to them and not be in awe. When you talk with scientists and the other folks who work on Great Lakes issues, their passion for what they do is infectious.”
Burden has had a chance to work on water issues many times throughout his career, most recently as regional director general of the Central and Arctic Region of Fisheries and Oceans Canada from 2011-2016 and associate regional director general from 2009-2011.
He coordinated the department’s efforts to establish regulations to manage and control aquatic invasive species, was the Canadian representative for the binational sea lamprey control program, and responsible for the agency’s Asian carp program. The program aims to prevent invasive carp from entering and establishing in the lakes by creating early warning and rapid response protocols and engaging the public through various outreach efforts.
Burden said aquatic invasive species are a perfect example of how the region must learn from past mistakes.
“Sea lamprey decimated the fish population when they reached the Great Lakes. It took decades to learn how to control the invader and bring fish back to some level of health, and that fight will never end,” Burden said.
“Quagga and zebra mussels are having an enormous impact financially on cities and industries, let alone the environmental impact on the lakes’ ecosystems, and we’re still trying to learn if and how we can respond effectively. We know from this experience that it will be far too costly, and difficult if not impossible, to control Asian carp from expanding throughout the lakes if they get in, so we must prevent them from entering every way we can.”
Burden is an alumnus of Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, specializing in political science, business administration and psychology.
He also worked in various positions for the Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada. While his previous positions focused on program management to meet operations and regulations, he plans to broaden his focus while at the IJC to help leverage opportunities for progress on a variety of challenges facing the lakes.
“There is great value in working for an organization with more than 100 years of success and experience in building consensus around protecting the Great Lakes and other boundary waters,” he said. “It’s amazing how people volunteer so much of their time and attention to serving on the IJC’s advisory boards, which reflects the passion that everyone in the organization has to protecting the Great Lakes.”
Burden will serve as director of the IJC’s binational Great Lakes Regional Office for four years, when the position will switch to a United States citizen.
Thanks to Outgoing Director Trish Morris and Acting Director Mark Burrows
Patricia A. “Trish” Morris, previous director of the IJC’s binational Great Lakes Regional Office, left in February to become region counsel at the US Navy southwest region based out of San Diego, California. Morris also worked at the Pentagon as an attorney and adviser, and for the Army Corps of Engineers and Army headquarters. The IJC thanks her for her service and wishes her continued success in San Diego and later in Hawaii, where she intends to retire.
Mark Burrows, who has worked at the IJC as a physical scientist since 2000, served as acting director at the office before and after Morris. Burrows took on the administrative duties in addition to his responsibilities as project manager for scientific and technical projects in support of the IJC’s Great Lakes advisory boards. He also coordinated production of the IJC’s First Triennial Assessment of Progress report under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Thanks very much, Mark!
Sally Cole-Misch is public affairs officer in the IJC’s Great Lakes Regional Office in Windsor, Ontario.