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Proceed with Caution

April 27th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

April Dangers.

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Once the wind (& the snow) die down and the early season beauty of the River is calling us to be on it again, remember there are leftovers from winter to be aware of and avoid.

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On the 46th Earth Day the St. Lawrence is a Most Endangered River

April 22nd, 2016 | Posted by Lee

It’s Earth Day and our River, the St. Lawrence River, one of North America’s most important, is also one of its Most Endangered Rivers.


This is wrong! It shouldn’t be! And, it doesn’t have to be!

Cattails (credit Averell Manes)

With the stroke of a pen, the U.S. and Canada can enact Plan 2014, a modern water levels management plan, that will begin the restoration of 64,000 acres of wetlands, rebuild the now decimated populations of native species like Northern Pike, Terns, Muskrat and others, and provide for increased recreational opportunities to the 4th largest river in North America.


You can help make this happen.

Go to plan2014now.savetheriver.org, watch the video, then fill in your information. Once you’ve finished, share the link will all your friends and ask them to join you in demanding action.


With your help we will show Secretary of State Kerry and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dion the tremendous support the River community has for returning the River to health.


Thank you for your support in this effort. And, please contact us if you have any questions at all.

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St. Lawrence River Endangered

April 15th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

from Thousand Island Life, August, 2016:Most Endangered

U.S. and Canadian governments poised to remove St Lawrence River from list of endangered rivers with a simple the stroke of a pen.

On April 12th the national advocacy organization, American Rivers, named the St. Lawrence River one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®, shining a national spotlight on the threat outdated dam operations pose to imperiled fish, wildlife and local communities.

The designation is significant for everyone who cares about the environment and the Thousand Islands.

Environmental considerations were not part of the planning process, when the Moses-Saunders Hydropower Dam, and shipping channel,were built in the 1950s. As a result, outdated dam operations have caused significant losses to the Upper St. Lawrence River’s globally-significant biodiversity and habitat. Impacts include a loss of wetland habitat and a decline in many fish species and nesting water birds.

Read the full article, watch the stunning video, then take action along with hundreds others who love the St. Lawrence River like we do. Click here.

The designation is significant for everyone who cares about the environment and the Thousand Islands.
- See more at: http://www.thousandislandslife.com/BackIssues/Archive/tabid/393/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1922/St-Lawrence-River-Endangered.aspx#sthash.imBhwiRU.U.S. and Canadian governments poised to remove St Lawrence River from list of endangered rivers with a simple the stroke of a pen.
On April 12th the national advocacy organization, American Rivers, named the St. Lawrence River one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®, shining a national spotlight on the threat outdated dam operations pose to imperiled fish, wildlife and local communities.
The designation is significant for everyone who cares about the environment and the Thousand Islands.
- See more at: http://www.thousandislandslife.com/BackIssues/Archive/tabid/393/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1922/St-Lawrence-River-Endangered.aspx#sthash.imBhwiRU.dpuf
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EPA Accepting Public Comments on Proposal to Ban the Dumping of Sewage from Boats into the St. Lawrence River

April 14th, 2016 | Posted by Lee
EPA Accepting Public Comments on Proposal to Ban the
Dumping of Sewage from Boats into the St. Lawrence River
Contact: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov
(New York, N.Y. – March 24, 2016)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that a “no discharge zone” can be established for the New York State portion of the St. Lawrence River. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation petitioned the EPA to prohibit boats from discharging sewage into the river by establishing a “no discharge zone” for the area. The EPA has reviewed the state petition and found that there are adequate facilities around the St. Lawrence for boats to pump out their sewage, rather than dumping it in the water.
“It’s astonishing that in 2016, boaters can dump raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. Declaring this area of the St. Lawrence a “no discharge zone” would provide cleaner water for people who use this river,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA and New York State looked carefully at the information and agree that the St. Lawrence has enough facilities to remove treated waste from all types of vessels and keep it from entering the river.”
Sewage discharges from boats can contain harmful levels of pathogens and chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenols and chlorine, which have a negative impact on water quality, pose a risk to people’s health and damage fish and wildlife. The EPA is encouraging the public to comment on its proposed approval until April 25, 2016.
The proposed “no discharge zone” for the New York State portion of the St. Lawrence River stretches from Tibbetts Point on Lake Ontario to the western edge of Lake Saint Francis, not including those waters that lie within the exterior borders of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Reservation. The proposed “no discharge zone” encompasses approximately 112 river miles and shoreline, including numerous tributaries, harbors and embayments of the river— including Eel Bay, Lake of the Isles and Goose Bay— and other formally designated habitats and waterways of local, state and national significance.
This action is part of an EPA/New York State Department of Environmental Conservation strategy to eliminate the discharge of sewage from boats into the state’s waterways. New York State water bodies that have already been established as “no discharge zones” include Lakes Erie, Ontario, Champlain, and George, the New York State Canal System and the Hudson River, among others.
EPA’s determination is available in the Federal Register at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/
For more information about “no discharge zones,” visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/water/ndz/index.html
To comment on the proposed EPA approval, email, fax or mail comments to Moses Chang at chang.moses@epa.gov, Fax: (212) 637-3891. Mailing address: Moses Chang, U.S. EPA Region 2,  290 Broadway, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866.

Support EPA’s designation of the St. Lawrence River as a “No Discharge Zone”.


Even treated sewage from boats, which can contain chemicals harmful to aquatic life and humans, has no place in the St. Lawrence.Kid in the River (credit Coley Baker)


The EPA has proposed a ban on the dumping of sewage from boats into the St. Lawrence River, and is accepting comments through April 25th.


Tell the EPA you support the ban and agree that the New York portion of the St. Lawrence River should be designated a “No Discharge Zone”.


Send your comments to: Moses Chang at chang.moses@epa.gov

or the following:

U.S. EPA Region 2, 290 Broadway, 24th Floor,

New York, NY 10007-1866


Sample comments:


I support the EPA’s proposed no discharge zone for the New York section of the Upper St. Lawrence River. Sewage has no place in the River.


Sewage from boats should not be dumped in the St. Lawrence River, since it can pose a risk to people’s health, and impair aquatic life and habitats.


The existing pumpout stations on the Upper St. Lawrence River are more than adequate to provide alternatives to dumping sewage from boats.


The full proposal can be viewed here: http://ow.ly/10DwbA

Watertown Daily TImes article covering this proposal can be viewed here: http://ow.ly/103Ldg

photo credit: Coley Baker

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St. Lawrence River One of America’s Ten Most Endangered

April 12th, 2016 | Posted by Lee
A Most Endangered River
American Rivers named the St. Lawrence River one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers, shining a national spotlight on the threat outdated dam operations pose to imperiled fish, wildlife and local communities.
U.S. and Canadian governments poised to remove St Lawrence River from list of endangered rivers with a simple the stroke of a pen.
Do your part to help: plan2014now.savetheriver.org
U.S. and Canadian governments poised to remove St Lawrence River from list of endangered rivers with a simple the stroke of a pen.
It is time Secretary John Kerry and Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion listen to the over 22,500 expressions of citizen support as well as the 42 environmental, conservation and sportsmen organizations and local and regional businesses that continue to advocate for Plan 2014.
Add your voice: plan2014now.savetheriver.org
Two Reasons American River’s Designation Is Important
First, American Rivers focuses only on rivers at crossroads. Rivers where key decisions in the coming months will determine the fate of the waterbody.  Over the years, the annual report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.
Second, the St. Lawrence River made this list once before in 2008. This was the same year the International Joint Commission began reviewing Plan Bv7, an innovative water levels plan designed to adjust the Moses-Saunders Hydropower Dam’s operations so as to work with nature.
Eight years later the plan, now known as Plan 2014, is ready for enactment. The U.S. and Canadian governments are poised to remove the St. Lawrence River from the Most Endangered Rivers list with a simple the stroke of a pen.
Do your part to help: plan2014now.savetheriver.org
18 Photos of River Damage and Renewal
Environmental considerations were not part of the planning process when the Moses-Saunders Hydropower Dam and shipping channel were built in the 1950s. As a result, outdated dam operations have caused significant losses to the Upper St. Lawrence River’s globally-significant biodiversity and habitat. Impacts include a loss of wetland habitat and a decline in many fish species and nesting water birds. Black Tern, a state-listed endangered bird species that depends on a diverse marsh habitat, has declined by over 80 percent. Northern Pike, the top fish predator in coastal marshes, has declined by 70 percent. These species are indicators of ecosystem health, and show how far-reaching the dam’s impacts have been to the entire river environment.

A Most Endangered River:

American Rivers named the St. Lawrence River one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers, shining a national spotlight on the threat outdated dam operations pose to imperiled fish, wildlife and local communities.Most Endangered

And yet the U.S. and Canadian governments are poised to remove St Lawrence River from list of endangered rivers with a simple the stroke of a pen (click for more).

Do your part to help: plan2014now.savetheriver.org

It is time Secretary John Kerry and Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion listen to the over 22,500 expressions of citizen support as well as the 42 environmental, conservation and sportsmen organizations and local and regional businesses that continue to advocate for Plan 2014.

Add your voice: plan2014now.savetheriver.org

Two Reasons American River’s Designation Is Important:

First, American Rivers focuses only on rivers at crossroads. Rivers where key decisions in the coming months will determine the fate of the waterbody.  Over the years, the annual report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.

Second, the St. Lawrence River made this list once before in 2008. This was the same year the International Joint Commission began reviewing Plan B+, an innovative water levels plan designed to adjust the Moses-Saunders Hydropower Dam’s operations so as to work with nature.

Eight years later the plan, now known as Plan 2014, is ready for enactment. The U.S. and Canadian governments are poised to remove the St. Lawrence River from the Most Endangered Rivers list with a simple the stroke of a pen.

Do your part to help: plan2014now.savetheriver.org

Environmental considerations were not part of the planning process when the Moses-Saunders Hydropower Dam and shipping channel were built in the 1950s. As a result, outdated dam operations have caused significant losses to the Upper St. Lawrence River’s globally-significant biodiversity and habitat. Impacts include a loss of wetland habitat and a decline in many fish species and nesting water birds. Black Tern, a state-listed endangered bird species that depends on a diverse marsh habitat, has declined by over 80 percent. Northern Pike, the top fish predator in coastal marshes, has declined by 70 percent. These species are indicators of ecosystem health, and show how far-reaching the dam’s impacts have been to the entire river environment.

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Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Executive Director named Freshwater Hero and Citizen Advocate of the Year

March 30th, 2016 | Posted by Lee
Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Executive Director Recognized as Freshwater Hero and Citizen Advocate of the Year
Freshwater Future has added Lee Willbanks to its 2016 list of Freshwater Heroes and honored him with the distinction of Citizen Advocate of the Year.
Based in Michigan, the Freshwater Future has a singular and vitally important mission: to ensure the healthy future of our waters in the Great Lakes region.
This month the organization issued its list of Freshwater Heroes. The list includes extraordinary groups and individuals who have gone above and beyond to protect what they hold dear—our waters.
In naming him Citizen Advocate of the Year, Freshwater Heroes said the following about Lee: “From on-the-water monitoring and restoration efforts, to educating the next generation of river champions, to his persistent and passionate advocacy on complex policy issues like aquatic invasive species and regulation of water levels, you can trust that Lee is there, standing up for the St. Lawrence, each and every day.”
For more: http://ow.ly/1067E4

Freshwater Future has added Lee Willbanks, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Save The River’s Executive Director, to its 2016 list of Freshwater Heroes and honored him with the distinction of Citizen Advocate of the Year.

Based in Michigan, Freshwater Future has a singular and vitally important mission: to ensure the healthy future of our waters in the Great Lakes region.

This month the organization issued its list of Freshwater Heroes. The list includes extraordinary groups and individuals who have gone above and beyond to protect what they hold dear—our waters.

In naming him Citizen Advocate of the Year, Freshwater Heroes said the following about Lee: “From on-the-water monitoring and restoration efforts, to educating the next generation of river champions, to his persistent and passionate advocacy on complex policy issues like aquatic invasive species and regulation of water levels, you can trust that Lee is there, standing up for the St. Lawrence, each and every day.”

2016 Freshwater Future Freshwater Hero Award
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Ontario Holds First Great Lakes Guardians’ Council Meeting

March 23rd, 2016 | Posted by Lee

On World Water Day, Ontario held its first Great Lakes Guardians’ Council meeting to discuss, gain input and build consensus on priority actions for protecting the Great Lakes and opportunities for partnerships and funding.

The council was established by the Great Lakes Protection Act to help strengthen the province’s ability to keep the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River clean, as well as to protect and restore the waterways that flow into them.

Ministers, representatives from First Nations and Métis communities, and experts from across Ontario, including municipalities and conservation authorities, agriculture, industry and science communities, environmental groups and the recreation and tourism sectors, discussed strategies to tackle significant environmental challenges to the Great Lakes, including climate change and algal blooms in Lake Erie.

Work to date was highlighted today through the release of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy’s first progress report. The report highlights key accomplishments and new scientific findings since the release of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy in 2012.

Maintaining and improving the health of the Great Lakes is fundamental to the province’s economy and quality of life, and is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario is also creating a working group that will include a broad spectrum of partners to help reduce algal blooms in Lake Erie, and contribute to the 40 per cent phosphorus load reduction target established for Lake Erie’s western and central basins. This will help meet commitments under the Great Lakes Protection Act, the Western Basin of Lake Erie Collaborative, the Great Lakes Commission’s Lake Erie Nutrient Targets Joint Action Plan, and other agreements.
  • The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region generated $5.8 trillion (USD) in 2014 and supports nearly 47 million jobs, which is almost 30 per cent of the combined Canadian and U.S. workforce.
  • The Great Lakes basin is home to nearly 99 per cent of the province’s population, over 95 per cent of the province’s agriculture and food production, 80 per cent of the province’s power generation, and 75 per cent of the country’s manufacturing sector.
  • Ontario has 10,000 kilometres of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence shoreline, the longest freshwater coastline in the world.
  • Since the launch of Ontario’s Great Lakes Strategy in December 2012, Ontario has invested $47 million into more than 680 local Great Lakes protection projects.
  • Since 2007, Ontario has invested more than $140 million into 1,000 local Great Lakes protection projects that have reduced harmful pollutants, restored some of the most contaminated areas, and engaged hundreds of partners and community groups to protect and restore the health of the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes St Lawrence River from space

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World Water Day 2016

March 22nd, 2016 | Posted by Lee

As we celebrate World Water Day it is important to recognize the vital role clean water plays in the functioning of the Earth’s ecosystems and to our economy. The theme of this year’s World Water Day is “Water and Jobs,” and never has that focus been more critical.

Our waterways are facing more threats than ever before and the problems of water scarcity and pollution seem to touch every corner of the globe. By the middle of next century, it is predicted that over 40% of the world population – 3.9 billion people – could be living in areas under severe water stress as climate change adds to the pressure from economic and population growth.

Water pollution threatens drinking water resources, tourism dollars and commerce and is a major contributor to economic water scarcity. Economic water scarcity is the result of a lack of investment in water infrastructure and is impacted by a population’s lack of monetary means to utilize an adequate source of water. The tragedy that unfolded in Flint, Michigan is emblematic of just how much this type of crisis can cost a community, with economic damages alone predicted to exceed $10 million.

An effective way to give our waterways a voice is the presence of vigilant advocates focused on clean water issues to “watchdog” our communities’ precious water resources. Today there are currently 934 advocates employed by 277 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide working to protect 2.3 million square miles of waterways so that people have clean water to support a vibrant and healthy community. Save The River as the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper is proud to be one of them.

On the St. Lawrence River, Save The River is fighting for a modern water levels management plan that puts ecosystem health on equal footing with shipping, hydropower production and flood protection to replace the more than fifty-year-old regime that has lead to the loss of 64,000 acres of wetlands, steep declines in the populations of indigenous species and threatens the tourism-based economies of communities along its banks.World Water Day STR

For almost two decades Save The River has been part of a robust multi-national collaboration working to bring a modern plan to the management of the River. After a $20 million binational study and extensive public comment and consultation with government at all levels and other stakeholders, the International Joint Commission (IJC) referred “Plan 2014” to the U.S. and Canadian federal governments.

Plan 2014 is based on science, developed since the River was first dammed, showing the benefits of healthy, intact wetlands – including improved water quality, stronger fisheries, increased biodiversity, and erosion control. When adopted, it will begin the restoration of 64,000 acres of wetlands, increase populations of key indigenous species, 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.

This World Water Day it is time for our federal governments – Canadian and U.S. – to accept Plan 2014 as it was referred and begin restoration of our River and the communities that depend on it for a sustainable future.

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Audubon on Wind Development

March 18th, 2016 | Posted by Lee
from Audubon (edited for emphasis): The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recommends all new wind developments consider several factors before choosing a location.
Among these AVOID:
- bird migration routes;
- places where raptors’ prey congregates, and
- water-filled landscapes that would encourage birds to flock, such as wetlands.
The full piece is worth a read: http://ow.ly/ZFhkS
Isn’t the St. Lawrence River valley, a place:
- ON the Atlantic Flyway, a MAJOR bird migration route;
- WHERE raptors’ prey congregates, and
- a WATER-FILLED landscape that encourages birds to flock?
Save The River’s position: http://ow.ly/ZFlS0
photo credit: Heidi Blackwell

photo credit: Heidi Blackwell

from Audubon (edited for emphasis):

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recommends all new wind developments consider several factors before choosing a location.

Among these AVOID:
- bird migration routes;
- places where raptors’ prey congregates, and
- water-filled landscapes that would encourage birds to flock, such as wetlands.

The full Audubon piece “Will Wind Energy Ever Be Safe for Birds?” is worth a read.

Isn’t the St. Lawrence River valley, a place:
- ON the Atlantic Flyway, a MAJOR bird migration route;
- WHERE raptors’ prey congregates, and
- a WATER-FILLED landscape that encourages birds to flock?

Save The River’s position on industrial wind development in the St. Lawrence River valley

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NYSDEC’s 2015 Lake Ontario Fisheries Programs

March 15th, 2016 | Posted by Lindsey

from the Watertown Daily Times, published on March 14, 2016.

Biologists, anglers talk state of Lake Ontario fishing

“The anglers knew it, and the biologists had the charts to confirm it: last season’s fishing on Lake Ontario was officially lousy.

With few answers about the cause of the dip, beyond colder-than-average water, there was little hope the state Department of Environmental Conservation could offer for fishing this year.”

For the entire story click here: http://ow.ly/ZqZ2q

For NYSDEC’s 2015 Lake Ontario Fisheries Report click here: http://ow.ly/Zr4Oj

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