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Save The River Honors its Volunteers

August 11th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

2017 Volunteers & two of the Volunteers of the Year – Ron Daly (left) & Bill Taddeo (right)

On a beautiful summer day at the Bridge Authority’s Rift Camp, many of Save The River’s over 250 volunteers came together to share stories, celebrate their good work to protect the River, and to honor this year’s Volunteers of the Year – the men, women and students who have sampled the water quality at area swimming holes since 1998 – our Beach Watch Volunteers.

Save The River has many well-subscribed and robust volunteer programs – Common Tern Restoration, Riverkeeper & Jr. Riverkeeper, Shoal marking, Catch & Release, event support like Run for the River™ and others, and our many educational programs – and the volunteers for each are superstars. As we have said before, ‘Volunteers are the heart, soul and muscle of all we do to protect the St. Lawrence River.” But this year – a year with a few challenges where the water meets the shore – we chose to honor our Beach Watch volunteers.

  • This year we honor our volunteers for their long time involvement with the Beach Watch Program:
    • Jean and Ron Daly, monitoring Lake of the Isles since 2008
    • Ben Giardina, monitoring Lake of the Isles since 2015
    • Mary Mitchell, monitoring Scenic View Park since 2013
    • Maria Purcell, monitoring Potter’s Beach since 2008
    • Bill Taddeo, monitoring Wilsons Bay since 2014
    • Dick Withington, monitoring Round Island since 2007

What was true in 1998, when we introduced the program in a letter to local municipalities, is true today, when the results of our monitoring efforts are reported internationally, “Everyone loves to visit the ‘local swimming hole’ on a summer day on the River. Public dock areas, riverfront parks, and island beaches make for great swimming and sunning, digging in the sand or turning over rocks to find other River inhabitants sharing the same spot.” What we didn’t say explicitly then, but what we are all very aware of is that we all want the water we play in to be fishable, drinkable and swimmable. So we test once a week, rain or shine, for 9 weeks in the summer.

Over the years Save The River has worked in partnership with several associations including: Round Island Association, Lake of the Isles Association, the Thousand Islands Land Trust and property owners on and near Wilson’s Bay. Results are published weekly on our webpage, social media and in the Swim Guide website and app.

 

About Save The River® / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper®

Since 1978 Save The River, a community-based membership not-for-profit organization, has been the leading environmental organization fighting for the ecological integrity of the St. Lawrence River. Its mission is to preserve, protect and restore the River now, and for generations to come. It delivers educational programs to students and adults about the River, its fragility, and the importance of protecting it. Save The River is committed to being a forceful advocate for policies and programs that promote clean water protections and to resist those that eliminate or weaken them.

Please consider volunteering and becoming a member of Save The River to support our education programs and advocacy for a healthy St. Lawrence River.

Contact us at: info@savetheriver.org, or (315) 686-2010

Join or donate at: www.donate.savetheriver.org

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Citizen Science, Citizen Action at Winter Conference

January 31st, 2017 | Posted by Lee

In the summer of 2016, the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences organized citizens from the city of Cornwall and Akwesasne to clean debris out of the St. Lawrence River. Anglers, divers, students, and general public worked together to pull over 12 tonnes of garbage out of the River and from along its shorelines. Not only was garbage retrieved, but this became an incredibly successful community and awareness building event.

Mesha Boyer, Assistant Project Coordinator at the Institute, will present “A Great River Runs Through Us”, the film which tells the story of citizen involvement making a real difference.

Registration for this year’s Conference closes Friday, February 3rd. To secure a place, it is best call the Save The River office at (315) 686-2010.. To secure a place, it is best call the Save The River office at (315) 686-2010.

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More on the Documentary “Changing Currents: Protecting North America’s Rivers”

September 30th, 2016 | Posted by admin

As we reported here in an earlier post, “St. Lawrence River & Key Figures Play Big Role in Upcoming Film“, in June the crew from Changing Currents, PLU MediaLab, came to New York, Ontario and, specifically the St. Lawrence River for interviews and filming for “Changing Currents: Protecting North America’s Rivers”, an examination of river pollution and restoration efforts in North America.

In a recently released trailer for the movie portions of an interview with Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Save The River Executive Director Lee Willbanks are shown. “I am honored to be able to speak about the work we and many others have done to preserve, protect and restore the St. Lawrence River as part of what looks to be an excellent documentary about the threats to freshwater bodies across North America and some of the restoration efforts occurring in communities across the continent.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 50 percent of rivers and lakes in the United States are too polluted for swimming or fishing. The mission of the film is to educate others on ecological river health, encourage environmental stewardship and advocate for dialog regarding effective river protection. The film is currently in pre-production and will premiere on Nov. 12, 2016 in the Theatre on the Square at the Broadway Center for Performing Arts in Tacoma, Washington.

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New York Invasive Species Week

July 11th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Invasive Species are not a pretty sight. And they are wrecking our River.2016-07-10 Invasive Species Week

It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week in New York. And it is up to each of us to keep new invaders out. By supporting strict ballast water discharge rules on ships, demanding the physical separation of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins, or taking personal responsibility and Cleaning, Draining & Drying our boats and equipment.

For more information visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Invasive Species webpage.

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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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Support Canada’s Draft Rules Banning Microbeads!

March 9th, 2016 | Posted by admin
Support Canada’s Draft Rules Banning Microbeads!
The Canadian federal government has proposed rules banning microbeads – an important step to protect the St. Lawrence River! Send an email today supporting the ban to keep microbeads out of our Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Comments are due by tomorrow, March 10th, send a comment today to make your voice heard!
SUBMIT YOUR COMMENT:
ec.produits-products.ec@canada.ca
Sample Language:
·      I support the draft regulations for banning microbeads proposed by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
·         Every effort must be made to eliminate the source of pollution and ensure that microbeads do not enter our shared Great Lakes and Rivers. We commend the federal government of Canada for recognizing this, and support the draft regulations.
For more info visit http://ow.ly/ZgfXN.

The Canadian federal government has proposed rules banning microbeads – an important step to protect the St. Lawrence River! Send an email today supporting the ban to keep microbeads out of our Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Comments are due by tomorrow, March 10th, send a comment today to make your voice heard!

SUBMIT YOUR COMMENT:

ec.produits-products.ec@canada.ca

Sample Language:

  • I support the draft regulations for banning microbeads proposed by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
  • Every effort must be made to eliminate the source of pollution and ensure that microbeads do not enter our shared Great Lakes and Rivers. We commend the federal government of Canada for recognizing this, and support the draft regulations.

For more info visit http://ow.ly/ZgfXN.

View Save The River’s Comment Letter.

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Transporting oil via pipelines carries risks

March 1st, 2016 | Posted by admin

Originally published in the Watertown Daily Times on March 1, 2016, from Lee Willbanks Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Save The River Executive Director.

In response to Wednesday’s editorial: “Cruising to Disaster“, Save The River would like to express our enthusiastic support of the editors’ position on the dangers and inappropriate risks of winter navigation on the St. Lawrence River. . . [however] while pipelines may be safer, they are by no means fail safe.

Click here for the full text of the Riverkeeper’s letter.

Kalamazoo River Spill (from EPA)

Kalamazoo River Spill (from EPA)

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Aquatic Invasive Species in New York State

February 27th, 2016 | Posted by admin

From the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Eurasian Milfoil

What do Eurasian watermilfoil, Didymo, water chestnut, purple loosestrife, fishhook water fleas, zebra mussels, and round gobies have in common? They are all species from other parts of the world that have been accidentally introduced and have flourished in New York State, oftentimes at the expense of valuable natived to water which they were not originally found. These plants and animals are all considered invasive species and, when they become problems, are termed nuisance invasive species. Without the predators, parasites and diseases that control their numbers in their native habitats, these species can reproduce and spread at an amazing pace. Similarly, fish diseases such as whirling disease and viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) have also been introduced to New York State. Although these diseases are not a threat to human health, they can have dire consequences for our native fish communities.

For more information visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/50121.html

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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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Keep The River Clean

February 25th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Originally published in the Thousand Islands Sun on February 24, 2016, from Lee Willbanks Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Save The River executive director.

The Thousand Islands Sun recently published a letter to the editor expressing concern about the disposal of fracking waste in the St. Lawrence River watershed.

Save The River is adamantly opposed to and works to prevent the discharge of toxics in any quantities into the St. Lawrence River, its tributaries and its watershed.

Currently there are no proposals for the disposal of fracking waste within the boundaries of the River’s watershed in either New York state or the province of Ontario. Even so, Save The River remains vigilant and vigorously opposed to any proposals to do so.

However, the St. Lawrence River watershed is not isolated. Lake Ontario and the other Great Lakes, and their watersheds ultimately drain to the River. As with other threats to water quality in the vast Great Lakes basin, Save The River is working through and with the many organizations throughout the Great Lakes with whom we collaborate to prevent the disposal of fracking waste in any manner which threatens water quality.

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Clayton, NY 13624

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