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Catch & Release End of the Year Update – 2014

December 19th, 2014 | Posted by Lee

This summer Save The River added smallmouth bass to our longstanding Catch and Release program.Addison Swenson

Since 1987 we have promoted catch and release fishing for Muskellunge, a species threatened on the St. Lawrence River, saving over 1,000 of these iconic fish. The addition of bass to Save The River’s Catch and Release Program is a continuation of our efforts to improve the overall health of the St. Lawrence River and to ensure a healthy, sustainable fishery.

We are adding lessons on catch and release to current In The Schools and On The Water programs for K-12 students. Students will learn about the different types of fish in the River, what impacts have been made on bass populations and how to properly practice catch and release techniques.

Catch yes, but eat fresh and release the rest.

Click here to go to the full update.

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Save The River Meets With Federal Agencies on Plan 2014

December 18th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

SAVE THE RIVER MEETS WITH US DEPARTMENT OF STATE, COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
TO URGE SUPPORT FOR PLAN 2014

Washington, DC— Save The River executive director Lee Willbanks traveled to Washington DC last week to meet with the United States Department of State, and urge the agency and Secretary Kerry to support Plan 2014. The meetings were set up by Congressman Bill Owens and also attended by The Nature Conservancy. The group also met with the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of Transportation.

Plan 2014 is a new approach to water level management in Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River and is an issue of fundamental importance to the economy and quality of life throughout the Great Lakes region.

“Our meetings were very productive. Representatives from each agency listened to our input and understand how Plan 2014 will restore our coastal environment. We thanked them for their time and thoughtful consideration,” said Lee Willbanks, Save The River’s executive director and Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper.

During its meetings the group presented resolutions of support for Plan 2014 from 15 US municipalities, 6 resolutions of support from Canadian municipalities and 15,000 expressions of citizen support in the form of letters, petition signatures and postcards. U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Environmental Protection Agency have each submitted letters in support of Plan 2014.

During the meetings, Save The River detailed how the current regulation plan has been a slow moving ecological catastrophe for the waterway it seeks to manage.  They also described how Plan 2014 will reverse more than 50 years of environmental damage by halting the trend toward monoculture wetlands and will lead to an increase of wet meadows by 40 percent. Plan 2014 will increase habitat for Northern Pike, Black Tern and other marsh-nesting birds and species.

An increase in species diversity and spawning opportunities will lead to an increase in hunting, and fishing opportunities as well.  According to 2013 analysis by The Nature Conservancy, economic benefits from improved wildlife recreation alone will reach $4.0 million – $9.1 million per year under Plan 2014.

“Secretary Kerry’s signature is the only approval necessary in the United States before Plan 2014 can be enacted,” concluded Mr. Willbanks. “The science is clear and support for this plan is strong.  We call on Secretary Kerry to act swiftly.”

Earlier this summer the International Joint Commission, which oversees regulation of water levels, referred Plan 2014 to the federal governments in the United States and Canada. Approval of the Department of State is the final step before Plan 2014 can be enacted.

Published by the Thousand Islands Sun on December 17th, 2014

Click here to see the print article.

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John Peach’s Fish Tale … in an Antique St. Lawrence Skiff

December 16th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

Muskie Catch and Release from an Antique St Lawrence Skiff

Written by John Peach posted on December 13, 2014

I had just dropped back my antique Skinner Muskie spoon and started to pull on the oars of Perry, our antique St Lawrence skiff, when the reel on the pre 1920 wooden rod started to scream as line ripped off the reel.

My first thought was I had hooked bottom, as the rod bounced in the ancient iron rod holder mounted to a thwart clamped across the skiff’s gunnels. As I feathered my oars, letting them rotate in their oarlocks until they were gliding alongside the boat, and reached for the rod, the line still ran out too fast to be bottom. Pressing my thumb down on the leather drag piece of the reel, I realized I had a large fish hooked up. Perhaps a big pike or river catfish, but the prospect of a muskie did not occur to me until I first saw the swirl far behind the pointed stern of the 16’ skiff.

John_Peach_in_skiff

As the bass season slows down in late September, I switch from trolling Rapalas for bass to dragging lures and spoons for pike. By October, I have broken out my antique 4’ wooden Muskie rod and reel. The only drag device, the method of inducing friction to the reel of line as it unspools, is a pad of leather hinged to a bar on the reel. In hindsight, I can say you need to be an octopus to have enough arms to row a skiff, fight a large fish with a leather drag reel, and attempt to photograph and release the fish. Most mornings from May through October begin with me rowing Perry, our 16’ Spalding St Lawrence Boat Co skiff built in 1900 in Ogdensburg, NY. My 30 to 40-minute row usually includes trolling a lure for pike or bass, with an occasional catch and release bringing a rush of excitement to my exercise regime.

I like to troll antique Skinner spoons, manufactured years ago by GM Skinner on James Street in Clayton, NY. Made from the 1880s until the mid-1900s, they gained a worldwide reputation as the finest Muskie bait available anywhere in the world. The deep running spoons had their own metallic luster coupled with bucktail “feathers”, and were also available in a baked on red & white enamel pattern. My particular spoon was a 4” model with red and white feathers and a large triple hook. It had seen years of use before I found it at the swap meet years ago in Clayton. I have always been intrigued with the old prints of guides landing large muskies for their well-dressed sports in a net held over the gunnel of a St Lawrence skiff. My curious mind wondered if a little artistic license was taken when painting the scene, as all those people looking and leaning over the gunnel of a reasonable tippy boat looked like a recipe for disaster.

Musky_release_STFFishermen who successfully catch and release a legal size muskie, currently 48” or larger, receive a special edition Michael Ringer print of the mighty St Lawrence muskie. The Muskellunge (Muskie) is considered by most fishermen the most highly prized North American fresh water fish. Fishing pressure and pollution had caused the numbers of mature muskie to become seriously low by 1987 when Save The River (Clayton NY) launched its very successful Muskie Catch and Release program.

To date, over 1000 prints have been awarded to St Lawrence River fishermen for releasing these magnificent fish. Save The River is about to launch its third edition Muskie print, thanks to the very generous support of Michael Ringer. Releasing the most mature large fish put the best breeding stock back in the River, which is critical to the continued rebuilding of the muskie population.

As I held the pounding rod and reel and applied friction, I realized I had a logistical challenge in my hands. I could just fight the fish, but he would tow the skiff around and probably break loose before I could get him close to the boat. I tried putting the rod back in the holder and rowing a few strokes to keep headway with the boat, but it was impossible to keep drag on the reel with my thumb and row the boat at the same time.According to John Farrell, PhD, the fish have also been under pressure from an evolving virus, VHS, which was first positively identified in a mature muskie in the River in 2006. Naturally occurring swings in water temperature, such as happened in 2005, also stress muskie, leading to weakness and death of some fish. Farrell, director of SUNY ESF’s Thousand Island Biological Station, has been studying the St Lawrence River muskie population for many years now along with the staff of the Governor’s Island biological center. I recommend the very informative article “Development, implementation, and evaluation of an international muskellunge management strategy for the upper St Lawrence River” by Farrell, Klindt, Casselman, LaPan, Werner, and Schiavone published in 2007 in Environmental Biology of Fishes 79:111-123.
SEcond_Musky

I finally developed the program of rowing a few strokes whenever the fish slowed its run, and I could release the drag (I tried to put my toe of my sneaker up on the drag, but that almost caused an upset of the boat!).

After about 15 minutes of fighting the fish and seeing it swirl as it got closer to the boat, I heard a yell of encouragement from another fisherman standing on the shore line. He seemed almost as excited as me, and enjoying the thrill as much as me. About this time in the struggle I started to think about landing the fish for a clean release, but a quick glance behind my shoulder at my knot free net used for bass convinced me that device was seriously undersized for the event. I do stow a large club like stick for landing large pike, but that was not meant as a release device.

Lapstrake constructed skiffs usually take two to three days to soak up after being hauled out for a few days, so my first row after a relaunch usually gets my feet wet unless I stop to pump out the water every 10 minutes. I’m sure you can visualize the scene as the water sloshing in the bilge lapped at my feet. I was not too worried yet, as I was working closer to the shore and the water was still reasonably warm. As the magnificent fish got closer to the skiff, my excitement grew as I realized I had a huge muskie, and not a pike, on the line. Now I had two new challenges – get a photograph and make a quick and clean release. I always place my iPhone on the seat next to me as I row, looking for interesting photographs of the 1000 Islands and the fish and wildlife I encounter. But I was seriously short of hands at this point, needing two to row, two to hold the reel, and one to photograph. To say it was a challenge is an understatement. My skiff is normally a pretty dry boat, but several days of windy weather prior to this row had caused me to haul the boat and wait for calmer waters for my morning rows.

I finally feathered the oars, which is generally easy in the well-designed St Lawrence skiff. If you release your hands slowly, the oars will swing in next to the hull and trail along, providing you do not hit them with your arm and knock them overboard! Carefully burying the rod butt in my crotch and holding the reel and drag with my right hand, I grabbed my iPhone with my left and attempted to unlock the infernal device with my thumb which was now cramped from rowing and fighting the fish. The huge fish was now alongside the aft portion of the skiff, in perfect position for a trophy photo. I glanced up at the camera to see if I had inadvertently put it in “selfie” mode, and was surprised as the strong fish thrashed its tail and jerked the rod. That caused the camera to slip from my hand, promptly executing a swan dive into the bilge water in the boat. Luckily, it was enclosed in its LifeProof watertight case – a must for any boater and fisherman – but quickly slipped up under the seat in the sloshing water.

rod2As I guided my muskie back along the starboard stern quarter, I reached down to my old wooden club which had a rough end that would be perfect to push against the two exposed hooks sticking out of the side of the fish’s mouth. Just as I put the rounded tip of the stick against one of the exposed hooks and exerted a little pressure the fish swirled away from the boat and the Skinner spoon popped free from its mouth. It slowly rolled away from the skiff, giving me one more glimpse of the most magnificent fresh water fish I have ever seen. I have caught much larger salt water species, but none gave me the thrill of catching this magnificent muskie within a mile of our own dock. I quickly decided my highest priority was to once more bring the fish alongside and make a clean release, allowing the trophy muskie to once more swim free and breed. Fighting the fish too long can injure it to the point where it can never recover and perhaps die.

My fellow fisherman on the shoreline was shouting his encouragement to me about the fish. He seemed almost as excited as me, and agreed to sign my Save The River certificate authenticating the catch. He did not use a camera, but told me he saw the fish jump once and swirl several times.

Talking to my new friend gave me an opportunity to tell him about Save The River’s Muskie Catch and Release program as well as the new Bass Catch and Release program. Launched at the opening of the 2014 Bass season, it has as its motto “…because a bass is too valuable to catch only once.” Fishermen are asked to send photos to Save The River, and weekly photo prize winners receive a Catch and Release sweatshirt provide by Ed Huck marine in Rockport, Ontario. The Bass Catch and Release program is also sponsored by ROSCO Terminal Tackle, the oldest and largest manufacturer of terminal fishing tackle in the United States. The fourth generation owner of Rosco is an avid fisherman and River Rat and was excited to be able to sponsor a program designed to return bass to the River. Save The River’s literature and media describe proper techniques for catching and releasing both bass and muskie, and can be viewed at www.savetheriver.org.

Upon hearing my fish story a good friend of mine commented “even though you don’t have the picture you will have the memory for your lifetime.” How right he was. Catching and releasing the River’s most iconic game fish from an antique skiff using turn of the last century fishing tackle was a thrill of my lifetime. It already has me planning for next season, and has me convinced those old muskie fishing prints portrayed superb fishing guides using just a touch of artistic license to keep the boats upright and dry.

Anyone interested in learning more about Save The River’s Catch and Release program can check-out its website, Facebook, or call 315-686-2010.

By John Peach, Huckleberry Island, Ivy Lea

Published by ThousandIslandsLife.com on December 13, 2014

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Want to Do Something Thoughtful for the St. Lawrence River this Holiday Season?

December 11th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

Let’s all voice our support for Plan 2014 to get the River what it really wants and really deserves… a healthy future. Write, print and send a letter to Governor Cuomo today.

Take Action:
Step 1: Download this template letter. Print, sign and add your address to the bottom. Or copy and paste the text into a new document (or Christmas card!) to customize with your personal story.
Step 2: Mail your letter to: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Executive Chamber, New York State Capitol, Albany, New York 12224. You can also Tweet him at @GovCuomo.
Step 3: Tell us how you took action on Facebook and Twitter, and share this link with your friends so they can support Plan 2014 too!
For over 50 years, the levels of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have been regulated by the Moses Saunders Dam, whose operating plan was developed with pre-computer technology. Plan 2014 uses modern simulations to adjust the dam’s operating plan to work with nature. If adopted, the new plan will restore 64,000 acres of wetlands, boost hydropower production and increase the resilience of hundreds of miles of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada.

Plan 2014 is also a net economic winner, providing millions annually in increased economic benefits for the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River region as well as increased hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities worth as much as $9.1 million annually to New York’s economy.

For more information visit: http://www.savetheriver.org/ index.cfm?page=app.programsLevels.


Example Letter



Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Executive Chamber
New York State Capitol
Albany, New York 12224

Re: Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Plan 2014

Dear Governor Cuomo:

I write to express strong support for Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Plan 2014, which was developed with input from hundreds of experts and thousands of citizens. I support Plan 2014 because it represents an important investment in New York’s recreation-based economy, our environment, clean energy and a resilient shoreline.

Plan 2014 is a once-in-a-generation chance to restore a critical freshwater resource for all New Yorkers.
Plan 2014 will help protect New York from extreme water levels, restore tens of thousands of acres of wetlands, boost hydropower production and increase the resilience of hundreds of miles of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada.

Plan 2014 is also a net economic winner for New York, providing millions annually in increased economic benefits for the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River region as well as increased hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities worth as much as $9.1 million annually to New York’s economy.

Please continue your work to create a more resilient New York by endorsing Plan 2014. Your leadership on this issue will generate tremendous benefits for both our environment and our economy.

Sincerely,


Thank you for your support!

Please contact our office at 315-686-2010 or info@savetheriver.org if you have any questions.

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Action Alert: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2014

December 9th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

As early as today, the House will debate H.R. 5764, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2014. Please contact your Representative this morning and urge them to support this legislation.

The GLRI Act of 2014 would formally authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for five years at up to $300 million annually.  The bill will ensure that this successful program continues to clean up toxic pollutants, restore fish and wildlife habitat, fight invasive species, and reduce nutrient pollution throughout the Great Lakes region. The GLRI has produced impressive results, but there is still work to be done. Please help support a vital piece of legislation that will keep restoration efforts on track!

You may contact your Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121

Attached are extensive talking points on the many merits of the GLRI. Feel free to tailor your message to your state – you can also find examples of successful restoration projects in your state by visiting http://healthylakes.org/map and http://healthylakes.org/successes/restoration-success-stories/.

You can also supplement your calls to Members by tweeting for their support on twitter. Feel free to use any of these sample tweets, or create your own. A full list of Congressional twitter handles is attached:

  • The #GLRI has worked hard for the #GreatLakes! [representative’s handle], please vote to authorize the #GLRI, support H.R. 5764
  • Please vote yes on H.R. 5764, [representative's handle]! It would authorize & fund the #GLRI, which has done so much for the #GreatLakes
  • The #GreatLakes need our support! [representative's handle] vote yes on H.R. 5764 to fund & authorize the #GLRI.

Finally, the HOW Coalition has prepared a letter in support of the GLRI Act of 2014, which is also attached for your reference.

You may contact your Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121

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Protect hunting, fishing Feds need to approve plan to allow Lake Ontario water levels to flow naturally

December 8th, 2014 | Posted by Lee

We couldn’t agree more.

From Syracuse.com Letters to the Editor, December 3, 2014

Hunters, fishermen, and trappers are solid conservationists, supporting policies that are good for wildlife. They also play a significant role in the Upstate economy. Sportsmen and women spent $4.95 billion on hunting and fishing in New York in 2011, generating $623 million in state and local taxes. In total, 2.11 million people hunted or fished in New York in 2011, and those sportsmen and women support more than 56,000 jobs in the state.

Hunting and fishing are also part of our local tradition and as longtime members of local hunting and fishing clubs, and now leaders in the Onondaga and Oswego County federations for outdoor sports enthusiasts, we want to make sure those traditions remain strong.

Sadly, sportsmen and women are facing a growing challenge created by the current plan for managing the water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

The current plan, developed in 1958, has stifled the ebb and flow of water levels, degrading the habitats where sport fish like northern pike and waterfowl live and spawn and reducing their numbers. The pike population alone is down 70 percent.

When fish and waterfowl disappear, opportunities to hunt and fish are lost. Sportsmen and women follow, taking their spending power with them.

If we continue down this path, the future looks bleak – not only for the wildlife of the shoreline, but also for those of us who care so deeply about hunting and fishing and those who rely on it for an income.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to this path of depleted populations and dispersing sportsmen. A water management plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence is currently awaiting approval by Grady Swensonthe Federal Government. Plan 2014, as it’s called, would allow the water levels in the lake and the river to fluctuate more naturally, while avoiding extreme highs and lows.

This would revitalize critical habitats and help to grow the populations of fish and waterfowl that draw sportsmen to our region. It would generate an additional $9.1 million in annual economic value from hunting, angling and wildlife viewing.

Plan 2014 is the product of decades of study, public hearings and input from small businesses, community leaders, residents and sportsmen like us.

The federal government has a rare opportunity to rewrite the fate of our waterways and ensure a stronger future for hunting and fishing in New York. By approving Plan 2014 immediately, the federal government could set in motion a chain reaction that puts habitats on a path toward recovery and reinvigorates an economy that relies on sportsmen and women.

We have a rich history of living connected to the natural environment. Along with all the benefits we receive -clean drinking water, food, fresh air, and recreational opportunities, to name a few -comes a great responsibility to protect what we’ve inherited and preserve it for future generations. Rarely does an opportunity come along to make such a significant change that will benefit people and the environment. It’s time to implement Plan 2014.

Charles Parker
President of the New York State Conservation Council
David Simmons
President of the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs

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A Preview of Haas The Great Blue Heron By Juliane B. Flora

November 26th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

Please enjoy this small preview of Haas the Great Blue Heron by Juliane B. Flora.  Copies of the book are for sale at the Save The River office and online through Amazon Smile. For additional information please contact Kate Breheny, Program Manager by calling (315) 686-2010 or kate@savetheriver.org.

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Save The River’s Winter Raffle!

November 25th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

Save The River’s winter raffle is a hand carved, hand painted Wood Duck decoy generously donated by Glenn Sweet. Glenn Sweet is a 3rd generation Alexandria Bay waterfowl carver.  He has been carving for over 40 years and carved his first decoy at the young age of 10.   Glenn has carved this Wood Duck from white cedar and applied acrylic paint to give it vibrant color.  When not out on the River he can be found working in his decoy shop, Thousand Islands Decoy Company in Alexandria Bay.  Thank you Glenn!

2014 Winter Raffle

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Click Here to get to a printable entry form. Just fill out all the contact information and return it with your payment to:

Save The River
409 Riverside Drive
Clayton, NY 13624

We will fill out the tickets so you too can be entered to win this exclusive, hand carved, hand painted wood duck decoy and support Save The River.

Drawing to be held on Monday, February 9th, 2015.

Good luck and Thank You for Supporting Save The River!

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Additional Voices from Coalition Call on Federal Government to Act on Plan 2014

November 13th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

More members of the broad coalition of local officials, landowners, environmental groups and small business owners today urged the federal government to take advantage of the greatest opportunity of our lifetime to save the St. Lawrence River and a Great Lake and adopt Plan 2014.

Everyone

Lee Willbanks, Executive Director of Save The River and Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper, said, “The dire consequences of our current outdated water levels plan are clear. Continuing with the status quo will continue damaging our environment and our environment. The river communities need this. Our economic vitality is directly linked to our environment and both will prosper with the implementation of Plan 2014. We finally have a real chance to leave a healthy, vital and thriving St. Lawrence River to the generations that follow. Decades of data, knowledge and collaboration went into this and I am proud to stand here today to urge our federal officials to take action and pass Plan 2014.”

Senator Joe Griffo said, “I’ve heard from the local small business community and I share their concerns with the current state of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Plan 2014 will allow for natural variations in water flows while controlling extremes. These water levels will be beneficial to our region, especially those businesses who rely on a thriving tourism industry. After decades under the current failing water level management plan, it’s time to bring a modern approach.”

Tony Collins,President of Clarkson University and Co-Chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council said, “The North Country community and the diverse coalition urging U.S. adoption of a modern lake management plan recognize that the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario are among New York State and our nation’s most valuable natural resources. Under Plan 2014, the Great Lakes’ ecosystem will exceptionally serve commerce, recreation and coastal watershed stewardship alike. Plan 2014 represents the way decisions should be made through broad public participation, robust scientific consultation and meaningful alignment of long-term economic and environmental interests.” Collins has also been nominated by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Board of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

Jefferson County Legislator Phil Reed said, “The Jefferson County residents I represent along the St. Lawrence River overwhelming support Plan 2014. After the many conversations with my constituents and studying the options for the future, I’m confident that Plan 2014 is the right path for our area. It is a sound economic and environmentally friendly solution to the problems caused by the current plan. The Federal Government should move swiftly to adopt Plan 2014.”

Jefferson County Legislator Michael J. Docteur said: “As the only county in New York with shoreline on both Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, Jefferson County is in a unique position to comment on Plan 2014. The river and lake are what make our area unique and beautiful, as well as economically viable. So the fact that the last 60 years have seen the loss of 60,000 acres of wetlands and 70% of our native Northern Pike population, makes it all too clear that we must replace the old water levels plan with one that restores the Lake and River. Plan 2014 will help to heal what has declined over the last 60 years and we cannot wait any longer to enact it.

Clayton Mayor Norma Zimmer said, “The current plan is broken. We must take action on Plan 2014. The plan we have now is not just damaging the St. Lawrence River, it’s also taking a toll on properties and small businesses that rely on a healthy river and lake. Plan 2014 will restore the River, improve the boating, and improve the fishing in our waterfront communities. We need the federal government to approve the Plan immediately.”

Clayton Town Supervisor Justin Taylor said, “I’ve seen first-hand the change brought on by the current water level management plan, and I know we can’t continue this way. As a representative of a River Town whose residents and businesses are tied to the St. Lawrence River, I support Plan 2014 because it will bring a healthier River, a healthier tourism industry and healthier overall economy. We have waited too long. I call on the federal government to act swiftly to adopt Plan 2014.”

Alexandria Town Supervisor Dale Hunneyman said, “I support Plan 2014 and call on the Department of State to approve this plan as soon as possible. Our communities depend on the river and lake for our economy. By improving our ecosystems, we will see an increase in waterfowl, fish, and animals. Larger populations of these species would support fishing and hunting in our area—and support businesses who work with these sportsmen.”

Jeff Garnsey, a local Fishing Guide, said, “The St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario are suffering because of a management system that is stifling ecosystems and natural habitats. And when those ecosystems suffer, so do small businesses like mine that depend on healthy hunting, fishing and birding opportunities to draw sportsmen and women to this area. Plan 2014 is a common sense solution decades in the making. It’s time to implement this and help restore the health of the lake and river while helping our local economies.”

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Broad-Based Coalition Calls on the Federal Government to Act on Plan 2014

November 12th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

A broad coalition of local officials, landowners, environmental groups and small business owners today urged the federal government to take advantage of the greatest opportunity of our lifetime to save the St. Lawrence River and a Great Lake and adopt Plan 2014. Plan 2014 is a modern water level management plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River watershed that will work with nature while preventing extreme high and low water levels. It will restore 64,000 acres of wetlands, boost hydropower production and increase the resilience of hundreds of miles of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada. Plan 2014 has broad-based, bipartisan support and is the result of decades of extensive research and outreach that balances the interests of property owners, conservationists, community members, business leaders and sportsmen with the needs of the environment. It was developed collaboratively with scientists, experts, and through local input.PRESS CONFERENCE 2014

The International Joint Commission (IJC) – a joint U.S. – Canada task force – referred the plan to the federal governments in June, calling it “the preferred option for regulating water levels and flows of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River,” and concluding that “…Plan 2014 should be implemented as soon as possible.” It is currently awaiting approval under an inter-agency review in the United States.

Under the current management plan, the water levels of Lake Ontario and the flows of the St. Lawrence River are regulated by the Moses Saunders Dam under a joint U.S. – Canada agreement that is more than 50-years-old. The current plan was developed before modern science gave us a full understanding of the lake’s fragile ecosystem. We now know that the old system of management is slowly killing the lake and river.

Maintaining the status quo leaves coastal areas more vulnerable to powerful storms like Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene, and threatens a variety of industries and one of New York’s most valuable natural resources. These industries rely on a healthy lake and river, clean water and accessible shipping routes.

The following local governments have passed resolutions in support of Plan 2014:

  • Jefferson County
  • St. Lawrence County
  • Town of Clayton
  • Town of Cape Vincent
  • Town of Morristown
  • Town of Potsdam
  • Town of Hammond
  • Town of Alexandria
  • Town of Massena
  • Town of Lisbon
  • Village of Clayton
  • Village of Cape Vincent
  • City of Ogdensburg
  • Town of Gananoque, ON
  • Town of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, ON
  • Town of Front of Yonge, ON

Congressman Bill Owens said, “Plan 2014 is a pragmatic solution for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. It balances the environment and the economy, and is based in hard science. It’s time to implement Plan 2014 and prevent the irreparable damage that will occur if we don’t act.”

Congresswoman-elect Elise Stefanik said, “Throughout my campaign for Congress I was an advocate for Plan 2014 and intend to continue that support as your next Representative in Congress. Congressman Owens has provided key leadership on this issue while in Congress and I intend to follow in his footsteps and urge local and state governments to articulate specific steps to assist shoreline communities and property owners along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The economy of the Great Lakes region and throughout the North Country depends on a healthy and vibrant ecosystem. I believe Plan 2014 will help protect our natural resources throughout our region while addressing the concerns of communities throughout the shoreline. Plan 2014 is a reasonable, balanced solution to the issues confronting the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River basin. I stand ready to work with you to achieve these goals.”

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