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New Data Show Multiple Asian Carp eDNA Hits Just Yards from Lake Michigan

January 27th, 2015 | Posted by Lindsey

(Wednesday, January 14, 2015) Chicago, IL – Asian carp continue to knock on the door of the Great Lakes, based on eDNA sampling results released last week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The sampling data, collected in October, show the presence of bighead or silver carp DNA throughout the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). Most alarming is detection of carp DNA very near the lock in downtown Chicago – less than one city block from Lake Michigan.

In the face of this threat, last winter the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) with no clear recommendation for next steps to prevent Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. The GLMRIS report does, however, identify restoring the natural divide between the two waterways as the one long-term solution effective in preventing the movement of aquatic invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. The report identified 13 invasive species at significant risk of moving between the waterways. Despite this finding, agencies and elected officials have yet to commit to this solution.

A committee of key, diverse regional stakeholders known as the “Chicago Area Waterway System Advisory Committee” has been formed with a goal to reach consensus on a set of recommendations to elected and appointed local, state and federal officials and the public on short-and long-term measures to prevent Asian carp and other aquatic invasive species from moving between the Mississippi River and Great Lakes basins through the CAWS. The Advisory Committee is working toward a deadline of Dec. 15, 2015, with interim work products as appropriate.

“Save The River supports this effort 100% because there is no doubt that, once in Lake Michigan, any invasive species, Asian Carp or other, will make its way to the St. Lawrence River, said Lee Willbanks, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Save The River Executive Director. “Sadly, we do not have to speculate about the damage invasives cause. We know first hand, so we believe it is important to be part of this effort.”

In the shorter term, the people of the St. Lawrence River, Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins need quick action to reduce the risk of invasive species moving between these two great waters. While no substitute for a permanent solution to the problem, immediate risk-reduction steps can be taken, including:

  • Design of a new engineered channel to be constructed in the approach to the Brandon Road lock, a potentially effective location for reducing one-way movement of species towards the Great Lakes;
  • Evaluation, engineering, and design of control technologies to deploy in the approach channel and the Brandon Road lock structure; and
  • Research to further evaluate reconfiguring locks as a means to control aquatic invasive species while maintaining the health of native aquatic life and habitat.

DNA evidence is an early detection tool to understand the potential movement of carp, and testing results have consistently found DNA hits on a path closer and closer to the Great Lakes over the past several years of testing. We cannot afford to wait until a breeding population shows up in the Chicago River. Prevention needs to happen now, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other key decision makers should take swift action.

Categories: Uncategorized
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Save The River’s 26th Winter Environmental Conference Agenda Set

January 26th, 2015 | Posted by Lindsey

Transport of oil on the St. Lawrence River to be a major topic

Saturday, February 7th, Save The River will once again provide area residents and public officials the opportunity to hear from scientists, experts, activists and educators about issues of importance to the health of the St. Lawrence River. The 26th Annual Winter Environmental Conference is open to the public and anyone interested in the future of the River is encouraged to attend.

Oil shipments on the St. Lawrence River are already an unpleasant reality. However, dramatically increased extraction of heavy oil and bitumen from the Alberta tar sands has lead to increased pressure to transport these cargoes on and near the River. These volatile cargoes pose new and alarming threats to the River due to their unique chemical characteristics that make them difficult to handle and recover if spilled.

A panel of experts will examine the implications of moving these new, toxic cargoes on and near the St. Lawrence River. The panel will include Kushan Dave, Cornell University, co-author of the recently published report “A New Era of Crude Oil Transport”, Anthony Mangoni, District Response Advisory Team Supervisor, Ninth Coast Guard District, Gary McCullough of the NYS DEC, and Emma Lui from the Council of Canadians. There will also be a visual presentation about the source of this potential new cargo by Alex MacLean.

Additional speakers will provide updates on issues directly affecting the health of the St. Lawrence River and in which the River community has taken an active role. Dereth Glance, Commissioner to the U.S. Section of the International Joint Commission, will speak about the status of Plan 2014 and other water quality initiatives being undertaken by the IJC. Jennifer Nalbone, New York State Attorney General’s Office, will provide an update on microbeads, the tiny plastic particles contained in personal care products, that have been found in alarming concentrations in the River, and the effort to ban them in New York. Matt Windle, Research Scientist at the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences, will speak about his research on the American Eel a once thriving and still iconic and culturally significant, but threatened St. Lawrence River inhabitant.

Rounding out the day will be presentations about Save The River’s educational programs, In the Schools and Riverkeeper, from educators and partners who will share their experiences and how they are implementing the programs in their classroom. Attendees will hear about programs aboard the Tall Ship Fair Jeanne, the Canadian sail training ship operated by the Ottawa-based youth charity, Bytown Brigantine Inc. from the captain and president and from Mary Bowman, Thousand Island Middle School teacher, who sailed on the NOAA research ship Lake Guardian.

Registration for the Winter Environmental Conference is $45 and includes coffee, lunch and a cocktail reception with light hor d’oevres.  Anyone interested in attending can RSVP by calling (315) 686-2010 or by downloading and submitting the registration form.

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Panel to Discuss Oil Transport at Winter Environmental Conference

January 23rd, 2015 | Posted by Lindsey

Oil shipments on the St. Lawrence River are already an unpleasant reality. However, the dramatically increased extraction of heavy oil and bitumen from the Alberta tar sands has lead to increased pressure to transport these cargoes on and near the River. These volatile cargoes pose new and alarming threats to the River as the unique chemical characteristics make them difficult to handle and recover if spilled.

Cardi Report Image

A panel of experts will examine the implications of moving these new, toxic cargoes on and near the St. Lawrence River. The panel will include Kushan Dave, Cornell University, co-author of the recently published report “A New Era of Crude Oil Transport”, Emma Lui, National Water Campaigner, Council of Canadians, Anthony Mangoni, District Response Advisory Team Supervisor, Ninth Coast Guard District, and Gary McCullough, Regional Spill Engineer, NYS DEC Region 6.

There will also be a visual presentation about the source of this potential new cargo by Alex MacLean.

Save The River’s 26th Winter Environmental Conference will be held on Saturday February 7th, 2015 at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel.

For more information and how to register visit our Winter Environmental Conference webpage.

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Captain of the tall ship Fair Jeanne to speak at Winter Environmental Conference

January 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Lindsey

Bytown Brigantine

Bytown Brigantine Inc. operates the Fair Jeanne out of Brockville, Ontario, offering unique experiences to youth through the adventure of sailing a tall ship. This past summer Save The River offered its Riverkeeper Monitoring training to several crews as part of their sailing adventures.

You can hear from the captain of the Fair Jeanne and the president of Bytown Brigantine at Save The River’s Winter Environmental Conference on Saturday February 7, 2015 at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel.
For conference details and how to register visit:http://www.savetheriver.org/index.cfm?page=app.eventsWinterWeekend

Categories: Winter Weekend
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Matt Windle to Present on the American Eel at Winter Environmental Conference

January 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Lindsey

Matt Windle American EelMatt Windle, Research Scientist at the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences, Cornwall, ON, will present on the American Eel a once thriving and still iconic and culturally significant St. Lawrence River inhabitant at Save The River’s 26th Winter Environmental Conference February 7, 2015

For more information and how to register visit:http://ow.ly/Hcn3d

Dereth Glance to Speak at Winter Environmental Conference on Plan 2014

January 22nd, 2015 | Posted by Lindsey

Dereth Glance

Dereth Glance, Commissioner to the U.S. Section of the International Joint Commission, will update attendees of Save The River’s 26th Winter Environmental Conference on Plan 2014 and other IJC initiatives.

Save The River’s 26th Winter Environmental Conference will be held on Saturday February 7th, 2015 at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel.

For more information and how to register visit:http://ow.ly/Hcn3d

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Make it a true Winter Weekend!

January 16th, 2015 | Posted by Lindsey

As you know Save The River’s annual Winter Environmental Conference will be held on Saturday, February 7th from 10:00am – 4:00 pm at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel in Clayton, NY.  In order to make the most out of your weekend here in the 1000 Islands please be sure to check out these two additional activities to complete your winter get-a-way.

TIAC

Friday Evening: The Thousand Islands Arts Center presents Art of Winter with an Opening Reception on Friday, February 6th, 5:00  – 7:00 p.m.  Join the Thousands Islands  Arts Center to celebrate winter for the opening of its annual exhibit, Art of Winter. This multi-media exhibition displays artwork from regional artists of all ages and talents who  have been inspired by the NorthCountry’s cold weather months. The event is free, a wide selection of artwork is for sale and light refreshments will be served. To learn more about  the exhibition or the Thousand Islands Arts Center visit www.tiartscenter.org.

naturecenter

Friday Evening: Guided Moonlight Snowshoe Hike Friday, February 6th at 7:00 p.m hosted by the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center. Explore our winter woods by the light of the full moon! Look and listen for signs of wildlife as you walk along trails guided by moonlight. If weather permits, this program will be offered on snowshoes. Snowshoes may be rented from the Nature Center for $3. Registration is required. Please call the Nature Center at 315-482-2479 for additional information or to register. For more information visit www.macnaturecenter.webs.com

Tilt

Sunday Morning: The Thousand Islands Land Trust will host an Eagle Watch Trek at Wellesley Island’s Thousand Islands Park on Sunday, February 8th from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm.  Join the Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT) as ornithologist Gerry Smith leads this unique bird watching opportunity. Bald Eagles often hunt around the waters off T.I. Park, so we will meet in the parking lot for the Wellesley Hotel with hopes of seeing some of these majestic birds. Please dress warmly and wear appropriate footwear. Don’t forget your binoculars! Light refreshments will be served. Please register in advance by emailing treks@tilandtrust.org, by calling the TILT office at 686-5345, or by signing up on the TILT website at www.tilandtrust.org.

Registration for Save The River’s Winter Environmental Conference is open. Registration is $45 per person. Coffee, lunch and hors d’oeuvres reception is included.  Special Individual Sponsor level tickets are also available for $140 or $200 per couple.  Name recognition, priority seating, and speaker access provided.  Please call Save The River for details, (315) 686-2010. Conference information is also available online by clicking here.

For other events and activities happening in the area, check out the Clayton Chamber of Commerce or the Thousand Islands Tourism Council.

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Save The River Honors Thousand Islands Middle School Students at Fall Awards Event

January 7th, 2015 | Posted by Lindsey

On December 18, 2014 Save The River staff presented Junior Riverkeeper Awards to four students at Thousand Islands Middle School.  All four seventh graders, Luke Riddoch, Annika Balk, Mikayla Cipullo and Kristi Bushey, participated in Save The River’s In The Schools program with the rest of their classmates in teacher Mary Bowman’s science class.

Mrs. Bowman has been using Save The River’s In The Schools curriculum program since 2009 to bring River related science to her classroom and students. Her focus is teaching her students about the importance of water quality and invasive species on the St. Lawrence River.

Mrs. Bowman’s class attended an On The Water field trip this past fall where they participated in a Junior Riverkeeper Training, the study of macro invertebrates, a hike on Wellesley Island at the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center and conducting a water quality study while out on the river with Clayton Island Tours.  Students in were then asked to write about their experiences while on the field trip and about using the River as their classroom for the day. The students were told that the best journal entry would be submitted to the Thousand Island Sun to be printed in the October 29th edition.

Luke Riddoch, Annika Balk, Mikayla Cipullo and Kristi Bushey were the class finalists. Luke Riddoch’s entry was selected as the winner and was published in the Thousand Islands Sun with Luke receiving well deserved credit as a contributing writer. These four students were honored at the Thousand Islands Middle School winter awards assembly for their hard work and dedication to learning about the River.

2014-12-18 Jr. RIverkeeper Award

Left to Right: Kate Breheny, Save The River Program Manager, Luke Riddoch, Annika Balk, Mikayla Cipullo, Kristi Bushey, Lee Willbanks, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper & Save The River Executive Director

Published by the Thousand Islands Sun on December 31st, 2014

Click here to see the print article.

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Save The River’s Winter Conference to Feature Panel on Oil Transport

January 5th, 2015 | Posted by Lindsey

Transporting Tar Sands Oil is Problematic

A tug recently sank down river of Montreal, releasing almost 7,000 gallons of fuel that is still being cleaned up. Fault hasn’t been assigned, but is blame important when the fuel or the toxic cargo is already in the water and spreading?

There is a huge difference between a tug and a tanker carrying the equivalent of 300 to 600 rail cars or 1,000 to 2,500 trucks of tar sands oil. It is a difference that should concern everyone who shares the use of the St. Lawrence River. A spill of that magnitude of tar sands oil, a cargo the Coast Guard has admitted it is “not prepared to handle,” would quickly dwarf the capabilities of first responders, would devastate the river for almost any conceivable use, would lay waste to the environment of one of North America’s most significant rivers and devastate the economies of communities along its shores in two countries.

Maybe lower oil prices will temporarily reduce the intense pressure, and thus the risk to our river, that has been building to get tar sands oil to market by whatever means possible. But maybe they won’t because producers will still seek the cheapest transportation alternative without regard to environmental impacts.

The proposals for new pipelines and ship terminals are still around. History shows we frequently construct beyond our ability to mitigate. The river community needs to shape the debate about such shipments and demand that not one drop of heavy oil should be put on a ship or in a rail car on or near the St. Lawrence River until response plans have been developed and tested and the Coast Guard and local first responders have the equipment and training to effectively implement them.

Become involved. Attend our Winter Environmental Conference on Feb. 7. We will have a panel of experts from the Coast Guard, spill responders, academia and advocacy organizations discussing the issue.

Letter to the Editor by Lee Willbanks
Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper / Executive Director

Published by the Watertown Daily Times on January 5th, 2015.

Click here to view the print article.

Click here for conference information.

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Accidents Still Happen – Are we prepared on the River?

December 29th, 2014 | Posted by Lee

tug-boatJust a few days ago a tug sank down river of Montreal and released almost 7,000 gallons of fuel that is still being cleaned up.

Fault hasn’t been assigned, although the owner will pay the costs. But is blame important when the fuel or the toxic cargo is already in the water and spreading?

We are concerned that the River is not prepared for what may come next.

There is a huge difference between a tug and a tanker carrying the equivalent of 300 – 600 rail cars or 1,000 – 2,500 trucks of tar sands oil. It is a difference that should concern everyone who shares the use of the St. Lawrence River. A spill of that magnitude of tar sands oil – a cargo the Coast Guard has admitted “we are not prepared to handle” – would quickly dwarf the capabilities of first responders, would devastate the River for almost any conceivable use, would lay waste to the environment of one of North America’s most significant rivers and devastate the economies of communities along its shores in two countries.

Maybe lower oil prices will temporarily reduce the intense pressure, and thus the risk to our River, that has been building to get tar sands oil to market by whatever means possible. But maybe they won’t, because producers will still seek the cheapest transportation alternative without regard to environmental impacts.

The proposals for new pipelines and ship terminals are still around. History shows we frequently construct beyond our ability to mitigate. We who care about the St. Lawrence River and want to keep it swimmable, fishable and drinkable now and for future generations need to educate ourselves on the threat of tar sands oil shipments on the River and through its watershed.

We need to shape the debate about such shipments and demand that not one drop of heavy oil should be put on a ship or in a rail car on or near the St. Lawrence River until response plans have been developed and tested and the Coast Guard and local first responders have the equipment and training to effectively implement them.

Become involved – attend our Winter Environmental Conference February 7, 2015. We will have a panel of experts from the Coast Guard, spill responders, academia and advocacy organizations discussing the issue. Click here for a printable registration form.

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