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Save The River Announces Interim Executive Director

June 11th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Save The River announced today that John Peach has been appointed to serve as the executive director and Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper in an interim capacity until a new director has been hired. John has resigned from his position on the board of directors to serve in this interim role. The search process for the next executive director has already begun, overseen by a search committee chaired by Diane Leonard, secretary of the board.  

“We are pleased to have John stepping into this leadership role while we search for our next executive director,” said Jeff Garnsey, president of Save The River’s board of directors. “His experience as a long-time board member and active volunteer ensures that we will continue the progress we’ve made during Lee Willbanks’ time as executive director. John will provide continuity for our projects while we focus on finding the right person to join our organization.”

“My passion is that Save The River remains strong in our work to protect the Upper St. Lawrence River through advocacy, education, and research,” said Peach. “Summer is a busy season for us with many of our programs and events taking place in the next few months, including the celebration of our 40th anniversary. I look forward to representing our organization and will be available to our members and communities both at the office and out on the River.”

John joined Save The River’s board in 2000 and has served in several key roles including as president from 2004-2007, on the executive committee, and most recently as treasurer leading the finance committee. He is an active volunteer in Save The River’s Common Tern Monitoring program and shoal marking program and will continue his work in these programs while serving as executive director. Prior to his retirement several years ago, Peach worked as an international business consultant in fields including arts, oceanographic research, environmental, and pharmaceuticals. He and his wife Pat call Huckleberry Island near Ivy Lea home for a significant portion of the year; their children and grandchildren represent the fifth and sixth generations of family living in the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River region.

The complete executive director job description and application instructions are available here.

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Save The River Executive Director Departing

May 16th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Save The River announced today that after six years of leadership Lee Willbanks will be departing his position as Executive Director and Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper at the end of June.

Willbanks joined Save The River in June of 2012 and played a critical role in significant achievements for the organization including:

    • Oversight of the advocacy enactment of Plan 2014;
    • Creation of Bass Catch & Release program;
    • Expansion of the In the Schools program;
    • Strengthened relationships with fellow Waterkeeper organizations and elected officials; and
    • Led member engagement in the advocacy effort to ban Microbeads in New York State.

“I have loved the responsibility and challenge of being the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and working with the staff, board and volunteers to advance Save The River’s mission to protect and preserve the River,” said Willbanks. “After six years of hard fought accomplishments I am looking forward to other ways to engage with this great River, starting with a lot of delayed boating.”

“I have enjoyed working with Lee during his tenure at Save The River. His depth of knowledge and passion for both regional and global environmental issues have allowed us to reach beyond the ends of our docks and impact the entire St. Lawrence River basin. He will be sorely missed,” said Jeff Garnsey, president of Save The River’s board of directors. “Our board is committed to supporting our dynamic staff team during this transitional period. Our priority is to find the best individual to fulfill Save The River’s mission to protect the Upper St. Lawrence River.”

The search for new leadership will begin immediately; a position description is available here. Interested individuals should submit application materials by June 1, 2018.

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Senate Protects St. Lawrence River & Great Lakes

April 26th, 2018 | Posted by Lee

Senate Votes to Protect the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes: Defeats Vessel Incidental Discharge Act

Last Wednesday, after a tremendous outpouring of opposition led by Save The River members and many others across the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence region, the U.S. Senate narrowly defeated the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017 (S.1129). This bill contained a harmful provision, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), that would have weakened rules protecting clean water and shift the oversight of ballast water discharge from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the U.S. Coast Guard.

If S.1129 with the VIDA amendment had passed, the health of the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes would have been put in serious jeopardy with the threat of new aquatic invasive species introduced via ballast water discharges. Learn more here.

Your calls and emails were enormously important in defeating this harmful legislation. Thank you!

Join us in thanking the Great Lakes region Senators who voted to block this bill from going forward; call the Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121 or send a message of thanks via social media (sample message below):

Thank you [insert your Senator(s)] for voting to protect our #StLawrenceRiver, #GreatLakes & #CleanWater by opposing VIDA! This bad bill would have weakened #invasivespecies protections. @SaveTheRiver member.

Senators to thank:

Minnesota – @AmyKlobuchar and @SenTinaSmith

Wisconsin – @SenatorBaldwin

Illinois – @SenatorDurbin (Sen. Duckworth did not vote either way)

Michigan – @SenStabenow and @SenGaryPeters

Ohio – @SenSherrodBrown

New York – @SenGillibrand and @SenSchumer

Since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, ocean-going freighters carrying contaminated ballast water have introduced 100+ aquatic invasive species to the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes. Invasive species like zebra and quagga mussels, round gobies, and the fish-killing VHS virus have caused irreparable environmental and economic damage to the River and the entire Great Lakes regions.

For 40 years Save The River has been the voice for the St. Lawrence. We will always stand to protect the health of the River but we can’t do it without your support.
Stand with us as the voice for the St. Lawrence River by becoming a member or making a donation today.

 

A copy of our latest annual report may be obtained upon request at 409 Riverside Dr, Clayton, NY 13624 or from the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, 28 Liberty Street, 19th Flr, New York, NY 10005

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Water levels slightly lower than this time last year.

March 28th, 2018 | Posted by Lee

Water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are currently slightly lower than they were at this time last year.

Last year the Lake and River went on to set record highs in May, June and July due to a succession of unprecedented, intense rainfall events throughout their watersheds. This lead many property owners and politicians to intensely criticize the newly enacted Plan 2014 and the International Joint Commission (IJC) for not doing more to alleviate the problems high water caused.

In contrast, at this time in 2012 the levels were higher, higher even than last year, but as the region experienced an unusually dry spring and summer, levels on the Lake and River went down and stayed lower than average for the rest of the year. This lead many property owners and politicians to intensely criticize the (IJC) for not doing more to alleviate the problems low water caused.

What was missed by the critics in 2017 and 2012 and in every extreme water level year (high or low) since 1958 is the fact that no management plan will give us the tools to fine tune the levels of waterbodies as vast a Great Lake or to control the outcome of natural events – rain, snow, wind – that influence them.

The only constants across the years, other than the criticism of the water levels plan in place at that time, are the variability of the weather and the challenges of accurately predicting it long term. One other notable constant – the reminder that we need to plan carefully how we utilize the shoreline of these vast, dynamic waterbodies.

The editorial board of the Watertown Daily Times​ has a good take on the current management of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River levels in a Sunday editorial.

The editorial board acknowledges that, while it is still too early to predict where the water level will be this summer, there is no doubt that the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB) in . . “following the recommended practices of Plan 2014 in overseeing outflows this winter . . .have allowed for a more orderly discharge of water in a manner that ensures safety.” The ILOSLRB has done this while achieving the goal of the Plan of “Improving the health of these waterways and creating an environment more suitable to wildlife will benefit all of us.,” as the editorial points out.

On a lake and river so clearly affected by intense and highly variable weather it sounds like they are doing a difficult job well.

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Celebrate World Water Day with Save The River

March 22nd, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

On March 22 we celebrate Water World Water Day. This year’s #WorldWaterDay focuses on how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century.

Did you know that an estimated two-thirds of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1900 as a result of human activity? Wetlands naturally filter toxins and sediments from water and help protect against floods by trapping and slowly releasing surface water, rain, and snowmelt.

Nature-based solutions like restoring wetlands, reconnecting rivers to flood plains, and planting trees to replenish forests are sustainable and cost-effective methods to fight the effects of climate change. The answer is in nature!

At Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper we’re all about a swimmable, drinkable, fishable St. Lawrence now and for generations to come. Join us! Click here to become a member or make a donation today. 

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Clean Water Safeguards Eliminated in Must-Pass Budget Bills

March 13th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Save The River will always stand in opposition to attacks on our nation’s most vital resource: clean water. We joined 115+ groups around the country urging our senators and congresspeople to oppose damaging ideological riders in spending legislation for Fiscal Year 2018: http://ow.ly/W1UR30iV3CW

Outdoor recreation is a way of life in New York, especially here on the St. Lawrence River. We can’t afford to eliminate conservation safeguards that protect our waters & wildlife. The dirty water riders attached to the upcoming federal budget vote will do just that.

The dirty water riders attached to the upcoming budget vote will undermine protections for drinking water that 1 in 3 Americans depend on, eliminate conservation safeguards that protect our waters & wildlife, and cut the public out of the decision making process.

Raise your voices to New York’s congressional leaders: ask them to reject all policy riders attacking safeguards for the St. Lawrence River and all streams, wetlands, lakes, rivers, and other waters that our families, communities, and economy depend on. Call them at (202) 224-3121.

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2018 Run for the River™ 5K/10K Registration is Now Open!

March 2nd, 2018 | Posted by Lee

Registration is now open for Save the River’s 16th annual Run for the River™ 5K/10K; this year’s race will be held on Saturday, July 28th.

Click for full details

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Director’s Waypoints, Winter Conference Edition

February 20th, 2018 | Posted by Lee Willbanks

Go to this edition of Director’s Waypoints

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Thank You to the Sponsors of Our 29th Winter Environmental Conference

February 6th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Thank you to our sponsors of the 29th Winter Environmental Conference. Their support makes the conference a regionally significant event promoting the health of the St. Lawrence River. Click here if you would like your business to support a healthy St. Lawrence River by supporting our annual Winter Environmental Conference. Our 30th Winter Environmental Conference will be February 2, 2019. Click here for updates.

 

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Agenda Set for Save The River’s 29th Winter Environmental Conference

January 30th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Saturday, February 3rd, attendees of this annual conference focused on the health of the St. Lawrence River will hear from a diverse group of speakers about a wide range of topics. Ann Ward, Save The River Board Member Emerita, will provide a welcome address reflecting on Save The River’s 40th anniversary. 

Click here for the conference agenda.

Commissioner Lana Pollack, U.S. Section Chair for the International Joint Commission (IJC), will speak about Plan 2014 after one year of extreme climate conditions.

Bill Werick, retired water resources planner and technical adviser to the IJC, will speak about the adaptive management component of Plan 2014.

David Bolduc, executive director of Green Marine, will speak about Green Marine’s environmental certification program for the maritime transportation industry. 

Henry Lickers, Ph.D., Environmental Science Officer for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Environment Program, and Michael Twiss, Clarkson University professor and member of the IJC Great Lakes Science Advisory Board, will provide a unique dialogue about the St. Lawrence River as habitat from native and non-native perspectives.

Lee Harper, Ph.D., president of Riveredge Environmental, Inc., and Michael Morgan, NYS DEC Project Manager, will explore the opportunities and challenges restoring and maintaining habitats for bird populations along the St. Lawrence River.

John Farrell, Ph.D., SUNY ESF professor and director of the Thousand Islands Biological Station, and Scott Schlueter, fish biologist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and Program Manager for the Fish Enhancement, Mitigation, and Research Fund, will discuss their respective work studying fish of the St. Lawrence River along with restoration and conservation efforts being made to enhance populations.

Eric Sunday, Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Program, will close the conference with a presentation about the efforts to improve awareness and education of the community about the Sturgeon population and its cultural ties with the Mohawks of Akwesasne.

Registration for this year’s Conference closes Friday, February 2nd. To secure a place, it is best to call the Save The River office at (315) 686-2010.

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