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Seriously?! NO Great Lakes Restoration funding, ZERO!

March 16th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Seriously?! NO Great Lakes Restoration funding, ZERO!

Page 42 of President’s budget plan released today “Eliminates funding for…Great Lakes Restoration Initiative”. This program has received bipartisan support in every budget since its inception in 2010. Over $130,000,000 has come to New York State to improve wetlands, fish habitat, invasive species detection and prevention, pollution abatement and other important projects that have created direct and indirect jobs, improving our environment and our economy. Over $6.4 million has been spent directly in the St. Lawrence River watershed.

Zero it out? Seriously. Decidedly. Outrageous!

It is just one part of the budget’s assault on programs that protect the water we depend on for our world-class fisheries, to sustain our recreation and tourism based economy, AND to drink!

Among many other programs cut or zeroed out is a Department of Agriculture program that assists communities with fewer than 10,000 people with water and sewer infrastructure.

It’s hard to imagine describing the St. Lawrence River as “great” if the water is no longer swimmable, fishable, or drinkable.

The President’s budget plan is chock full of disappointments for anyone who has benefitted from the last half century of progress the United States has made in air and water quality and human health.

Common sense tells us we have more to do to make sure every American has access to clean air and water, both basic human rights.

Instead for Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and our members and supporters, this budget is nothing less than a full on assault on the health of one of North America’s most important waterways and the people and communities that depend on it being and staying healthy.

Call the Congressional switchboard, (202) 224-3121, to connect with your Senators & Representative with the simple message “I support clean water programs – GLRI, revolving loan funds, & EPA”. Then call White House with same message (202) 456-1414 or (202) 456-1111.

Please also consider becoming a member of Save The River to strengthen our ability to fight for a healthy St. Lawrence River, now and for generations to come. Add your voice to thousands of others working to preserve, protect and restore one of the great rivers in North America.

#WePersist

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Budget Blunder? Absolutely Right!

March 13th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Watertown Daily Times calls President Trump’s approach on vital Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River programs a, “Budget blunder.” And they are absolutely right!

In a March 11th editorial the Watertown Daily Times called out the President for his proposal to slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency and his intention to “wrench most of this from the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative”.

The Times had reported the day before “Mr. Trump’s proposed 2018 budget request calls for funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to fall from $300 million to $10 million, a 97 percent reduction. Reuters reported the Environmental Protection Agency’s overall budget will be cut about 25 percent.”

This is simply outrageous.

As the Times editorial points out, “[t]o date, the GLRI [Great Lakes Restoration Initiative] has invested more than $2.2 billion in restoration projects in the Great Lakes.” In an earlier story the Times noted, “the GLRI provides funding for thousands of projects pertaining to wetlands restoration, combating invasive species and cleaning up toxins in the Great Lakes and along their shores.”

The GLRI has received bipartisan support in Congress since its inception. It is a keystone in the nation’s commitment to restore the health of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River; the largest freshwater system on earth, drinking water supply to millions and a recreational mecca that draws visitors from all over the world.

GLRI funded projects have certainly benefitted the environment of the communities where they are located. But these projects have also supported the economy of those communities with the direct and indirect jobs they have created and by the increased commercial and recreational use of the waters they have restored.

Save The River wholeheartedly agrees with the Times’ conclusion that, “Mr. Trump cannot be allowed to finance his plans at the expense of the health of the Great Lakes”.

And, while we are fortunate on the St. Lawrence River that Congresswoman Stefanik and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand support the GLRI, we know that restoration of these draconian cuts will not be easy to reverse and the effort will take more than the support of our local representatives.

For these reasons Save The River is committed to working with groups from all of the Great Lakes states to stop the President’s plan to slash the EPA and GLRI funding. You can help two ways:

  • Call your representatives at (202) 224-3121:
    • If they support full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; say “Thanks”. Positive messages work to shore up support.
    • If they don’t support the GLRI; Tell them why it is important to you that they do. Personal stories help them understand how these programs impact real people.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in New York State by the numbers:

 

Read the full Watertown Daily Times editorial and stories at these links:

 

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What we are about to lose

February 20th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

It begins; What we are about to lose

Just confirmed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott “Pruitt told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that he expects to quickly withdraw both the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States Rule, the Obama administration’s attempt at clarifying the EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.”

from an article by Natasha Geiling, in ThinkProgress


Graphic from the EPA website (for now): https://www.epa.gov/cleanwaterrule

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Join Us

October 9th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Join us in our work to protect, preserve and restore the St. Lawrence River now and for future generations.Value

We do this by educating children about the River, and how to live with and sustain it and the creatures that depend on it being healthy. And we work for policies that will protect it from invasive species, toxic chemicals and untreated waste dumping, microplastics and an outdated dam management plan that has decimated tens of thousands of acres of wetlands and species.

But to do it well and to reach even more children and adults and bring about meaningful policy change we need a community of members that is large, vocal and supportive.

We need you! Please join Save The River today and become a partner in our effort to pass on a healthy St. Lawrence River for generations to share.

Click here.

Thank you.

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Winter Icebreaking on the St. Lawrence River?

August 18th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

2013 Ice on the River at Clayton“We [Save The River and the River community] remain vigilant to any renewed efforts for destructive ice-breaking for winter shipping and we stand ready to block it again.”

In a August 17 story by Brian Kelly the Watertown Daily Times covers the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers Maritime Transportation Strategy that, among other things, “suggests ways the shipping season could be extended.”

Ice-breaking on the St. Lawrence River has not and will not be appropriate – either economically or environmentally.

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Local Fishing Guide Participates in Discussion About Stopping Asian Carp

August 9th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Alexandria Bay fishing guide Matt Heath, owner of Seaway Charters, took part in a Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, basin-wide discussion about the threat of Asian Carp and what is needed to prevent their spread to the Lakes and River.

The meeting, organized by Freshwater Future, included guides from Illinois, Michigan, Ontario, Ohio and Matt.

Their conclusion: Physical separation is the only effective way to prevent the spread of Asian Carp.

As Matt pointed out, “We know from experience that aquatic invasive species have devastating impacts on the Great Lakes all the way down the St. Lawrence River. Preventing future invasions is crucial to protect our waters. Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin have invested time and resources to close their connections, and it’s time we finally shut the front door to keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.”

From the Freshwater Future press release: “Asian carp are voracious eaters, eating up to 20% of their body weight. They spawn rapidly, and can grow to more than 4 feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds. To make matters worse, silver carp are easily startled and will jump up to 8 feet out of the water when disturbed by a passing boat. These fish have injured boaters in several states. These destructive fish dominate whole ecosystems, outcompeting native fish, like perch, bass, and walleye, for food and resources. . . Global biological invasions, including the potential carp invasion of the Great Lakes, could cost an estimated $1.4 trillion per year in damages – 5 percent of the global economy.”

We really appreciate Matt speaking out and participating in this very important issue. And we appreciate Freshwater Future for giving local voices a chance to speak out.

More at: Charter Boat Captains from Around the Region Calling on Congress to Separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River

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Congresswoman Stefanik works to remove Bad Ballast Bill tucked Into Defense Authorization Act

May 31st, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and conservation groups around the country are working to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency retains its authority to clean up ballast water discharges.

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As reported by the Watertown Daily Times in a May 27, 2016 story by Brian Molongoski, “Non-defense-related legislation tucked away in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, would remove the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority in regulating ballast water discharge from cargo vessels.” The story was also covered by ABC and other media.


Exempt from the Clean Water Act?

Exempt from the Clean Water Act?

Two weeks ago we asked you to contact your Congressperson to stop this from happening. Many of you responded and Congresswoman Stefanik heard you. And although she did what she could, the “must pass” Defense Authorization Act was approved the House of Representatives with language rolling back Clean Water Act protections from the threat of invasive species in ships’ ballast water that our River, and the Great Lakes now have.

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Your calls made a difference. Ms. Stefanik has vowed to continue to work to remove the “Vessel Incidental Discharge Act” language from the defense bill.

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Let her know you appreciate her efforts and that you support her work to protect the St. Lawrence River. Call her office at (202) 225-4611 or send an email by going to: https://stefanik.house.gov/contact/email

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This type of advocacy takes resources. If you would like to contribute to our efforts by becoming a member please click here. And keep coming back for updates.

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:  (202) 225-4611
or send an email by going to:  https://stefanik.house.gov/contact/email
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Tell Congress: Do Not Weaken Ballast Water Rules – Keep New Invasives Out of the St. Lawrence River!

May 16th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

After years of struggle the federal government is requiring shippers to take action to clean up their ballast water discharges and stop the introduction of new invasive species.

We on the St. Lawrence River know all too well the scourge of invasive species introduced through the discharge of ballast water into our River and the Great Lakes. Zebra mussels, round goby, eurasian milfoil, and VHS have disrupted the River’s fragile ecosystem, displaced or decimated native species and cost millions each year in eradication efforts and lost economic activity.

Using the clear authority of the Clean Water Act, shippers are finally being required to clean up their act and their ballast water.

But now the House of Representatives is considering a bill that will undo the progress made and once again open the spigot to aquatic invasive species.Ballast Water Discharge

Language that will essentially remove shipping from the requirements of the Clean Water Act has been added to the National Defense Authorization Act (HR 4909), a bill that is considered a “must pass” piece of legislation.

The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) is a tremendous step backward for the River and Great Lakes and opens these great waterbodies to the threat of a new wave of invaders.

We need you to contact your Congress person today and tell them “no rollback of Clean Water Protections from invasive species – no VIDA in HR 4909.

If your Congress person is Elise Stefanik:

call her at:  (202) 225-4611

or send an email by going to:  https://stefanik.house.gov/contact/email

If you vote in a different Congressional District, but love the River and want to protect it from new invasives, you can find contact information for your Congress person here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Suggested script for a call or email. Personalizing it will give it greater impact:

“I urge Congresswoman Stefanik to oppose the inclusion of the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act in HR 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act. Its provisions remove Clean Water Act protections for the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes from the threat of invasive species in ballast water discharges. It is critical to the health of the River and the economy of communities all along it to stop the introduction of new invasive species.”

Please SHARE this with others who also want a healthy St. Lawrence River. Ask them to call their representative in Congress too.

Once you make the call let us know on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #NoVIDA.

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What makes a species invasive?

February 26th, 2016 | Posted by admin

From the National Wildlife Federation

“Invasive species” — it doesn’t sound very threatening, does it? But these invaders, large and small, have devastating effects on U.S. wildlife. Invasive species are one of the leading threats to native wildlife. Approximately 42% of Threatened or Endangered species are at risk primarily due to invasive species.

Human health and economies are also at risk from invasive species. The impacts of invasive species on our natural ecosystems and economy cost billions of dollars each year. Many of our commercial, agricultural, and recreational activities depend on healthy native ecosystems.

What makes a species invasive?

round goby

An invasive species does not have to come from another country. For example, lake trout are native to the Great Lakes, but are considered to be an invasive species in Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming because they compete with native cutthroat trout for habitat. An invasive species can be any kind of living organism—an amphibian (like the cane toad pictured left), plant, insect, fish, fungus, bacteria, or even an organism’s seeds or eggs—that is not native to an ecosystem and which causes harm.  They can harm the environment, the economy or even, human health. Species that grow and reproduce quickly, and spread aggressively, with potential to cause harm, are given the label of “invasive”

What you can do to help curb the spread of invasive species

  • Plant native plants and remove any invasive plants in your garden. There are many good native plant alternatives to common exotic ornamental plants.
  • Learn to identify invasive species in your area. Report any sightings to your county extension agent or local land manager. Learn more about invasive species in your state.
  • Regularly clean your boots, gear, boat, tires and any other equipment you use outdoors to remove insects and plant parts that may spread invasive species to new places.
  • When camping, buy firewood near your campsite (within 30 miles) instead of bringing your own from home, and leave any extra for the next campers. Invertebrates and plants can easily hitch a ride on firewood you haul to or from a campsite — you could inadvertently introduce an invasive to a new area.

For more information visit: https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Threats-to-Wildlife/Invasive-Species.aspx

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Formidable invasive species won’t be easy to keep out of Great Lakes

February 24th, 2016 | Posted by admin

Invasive species are huge threat to the ecosystems along the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes. Save The River’s Clean-Up the Ballast Campaign is focused on stopping aquatic invasive species introductions by tackling the primary source – ship ballast tanks.

Formidable invasive species won’t be easy to keep out of Great Lakes by Dan Egan is a great article showcasing the threats and damage caused by aquatic invasive species and how these pesky species enter our waterways. Below is an excerpt from the article. Click here to view the full story.

Haphazard’ hunts for fresh invasions

The pace of invasive species being discovered in the Great Lakes peaked about a decade ago, when a new invader was detected, on average, more than once a year.

To stanch the onslaught, starting in 2008 all Great Lakes-bound overseas vessels were required to flush their ballast tanks in mid-ocean to expel any ballast dwelling organisms, or kill them with a blast of saltwater. No new invader has been detected in the lakes since — a point shipping industry advocates are quick to tout.

Research shows that a saltwater ballast flush can go a long way in killing most freshwater tank dwellers. But most biologists don’t think that’s enough because even if flushing ballast tanks with saltwater eliminates 98 or even more than 99% of certain classes of hitchhikers, boats arriving from ports around the globe are far from sterile.

One Great Lakes-bound freighter can carry enough ballast to fill 10 Olympic-size swimming pools. These tanks can hold not only water but also swamps of sediment that can be teeming with all manner of organisms in all different life stages, from fish eggs to microscopic zooplankton to dormant cysts that evolved over millions of years to survive most anything nature can toss at them.

A 2011 federal report looking at the threat of ballast water to all U.S. ports noted that a study conducted in Australia revealed that sediments from just one freighter ballast tank can harbor up to 300 million viable cysts of primitive dinoflagellates, which scientists dub the “cells from hell” because they can produce a deadly neurotoxin. So a flush that eliminates 99% of this ballast tank’s inhabitants could still carry 3 million potential invaders

That’s just one ballast tank, and that’s just one species.

UWM’s Strickler says there are plenty of freshwater organisms that will indeed wither when hit with a blast of saltwater.

But he considers these species pushovers. He works with animals that, depending on their life stage, can withstand everything from water fresh enough to drink to brews far brinier than the ocean.

“Most of my animals can survive salinity,” Strickler says with a wry smile as he slowly closes his eyes, “they just go to sleep.”

Most biologists, meanwhile, believe it is naïve to think the ballast problem has been solved simply because it’s been several years since a new lake invader has been detected. Sleeper colonies can lurk for years — even decades — before their numbers grow big enough to get noticed. Great Lakes species discoveries also tend to be utterly accidental — a fisherman hauls up a strange cluster of slimy critters coating his nets; students doing a routine survey of a lake bottom stumble upon something their professor doesn’t recognize.


Ballast Image

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