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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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President Takes Action to Limit Clean Water Rule Protections

March 1st, 2017 | Posted by Lee

As the Riverkeeper for the St. Lawrence River, downstream of the 5 Great Lakes, drinking water for 40 million people, collector of human and industrial wastes from 8 states, we know full well the impact of the President’s order. And like the Waterkeeper Alliance and all freshwater groups in American, we will fight this.

From the Waterkeeper Alliance statement, “We also know that pollution flows downstream and poisons larger waterways used for drinking water, fishing, and recreation. This is why Congress passed the Clean Water Act more than 40 years ago — Waterkeeper Alliance will fight every effort to destroy these longstanding clean water protections.”

Full statement here, Waterkeeper Alliance Responds to Anti-Clean Water Executive Order

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Your Chance to Speak Up for the River (& the Great Lakes)

February 23rd, 2017 | Posted by admin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve followed news on the Great Lakes, you know that Canada and the United States, and the IJC, have released reports on progress to restore the vitality of the Great Lakes. The reports are required every three years by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which provides goals to guide the two countries’ work. Now’s your chance to influence what actions will be taken for the Great Lakes in the next triennial cycle. 

The IJC has launched ParticipateIJC, a website for gathering public comment on progress made by our two countries and sharing conversations and videos from meetings the IJC is holding around the Great Lakes. You may review the reports – the Parties Report on Progress and the IJC’s draft Triennial Assessment of Progress (TAP) report – and provide written comments as well as joining online discussions on topics in the TAP report. We welcome perceptions of the lakes from your unique vantage point, locally and as a Great Lakes citizen. All written comments can be submitted by April 15, 2017.

Great Lake Connection is the IJC’s monthly newsletter linking science and citizens for action. To sign up for Great Lakes Connection, click here.

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“Animal Allies” – Muskie Restoration & Robots

February 1st, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Robert Howard, Rhys Jenis, Rebecca Leonard, team members of The Heritage Hi-Techs, a rookie First Lego League team of 5th graders from Clayton, NY, wanted to call attention to an iconic, but threatened River species – the Muskellunge – as part of their solution to this year’s robotic competition.

So they asked Save The River for input and came up with “Animal Allies” as a theme for their entry. Based on knowledge gained from Save The River and others about the need for responsible stewardship of the River’s threatened Muskellunge population, they will present their solution, which earned them tremendous first-year success, at our conference.

The team’s name, Heritage Hi-Techs, is based on the neighborhood which they all live in. Robert, Rhys and Rebecca all share an interest in robots and have been friends since they were in strollers. Since their elementary school does not have a robotics class or club currently, they decided work together to learn robotics as a team.

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.

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Riverkeeper Statement to Watertown ‘Sister Rally’

January 23rd, 2017 | Posted by Lee

It was an honor to be asked to be a part of Watertown’s ‘Sister Rally’ held Saturday in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington and the hundreds of others held across the country. It was the beginning of a grassroots effort to remind the new administration and the new Congress that there is widespread support for a range of policies and programs the new President has expressed opposition to.

Although I was out of the area, Save The River supporter and volunteer Maria Purcell read my statement to the almost 300 participants from all over the River region and beyond*.

In part,

“The fact that the highest level appointees of the incoming administration have articulated a clear intention to minimize environmental protections in government decisionmaking is frightening. It threatens our very mission – the protection and restoration of the St. Lawrence River.

Access to clean water is the most fundamental human right. We are entering challenging times for many (if not all) social justice issues, within which we must include the right to clean – swimmable, fishable, drinkable – water.”

We are thankful that the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes and their tributaries have benefitted from decades of bipartisan cooperation at every level of government, from village, township, county, province and state to federal and international, by people of good will focused on restoring and protecting these waterbodies that hold 20% of the world’s fresh water and provide drinking water to millions. We cannot return to a time when they were viewed as resources to be consumed, dammed, diverted, filled and fouled.

The message Saturday was simple, we are watching and we will mobilize to protect hard fought and hard won victories for a clean St. Lawrence River now and for generations to come.

Save The River and the standing heron are registered trademarks. Riverkeeper is a registered trademark of the Waterkeeper® Alliance


Notes:

  • full text of statement
  • the event organizers noted RSVPs from Watertown, Cape Vincent, Redwood, Potsdam, Canton, Fort Drum, Edwards, LaRay, Carthage, Clayton, Adams, Hounsfield, Rutland, Chaumont, Pulaski, Brownville, Sackets Harbor, Cranberry Lake, Antwerp, Rodman, West Carthage, DeKalb, Massena, Lowville, Plattsburgh, Waddington, Lorraine, Lyme, Ogdensburg, Alexandria Bay, Gouverneur, Bombay, Lyonsdale, Theresa, Diana and Watson (all in the River region) and Brentwood, Rochester, Staten Island, Hanover, Worthington, Ithaca, NY, Fresno, CA, Albuquerque, NM, and Bellmead, TX.
  • media coverage of the event: Watertown Daily Times, 7 News Fox 28
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Wind Development in the River Valley Needs Comprehensive Review

January 19th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Save The River’s mission is to always be concerned about the health of the St. Lawrence River and to seek policies and actions to protect it. We believe there is a direct connection between the health of the River and the health of the creatures who swim, fish, drink and stop over in its waters and the health of the communities that line its shores. If one is threatened, all are in danger.

We base our efforts to preserve, protect and restore the River on research. It was research that informed our fight to stop winter navigation. And it was years of research that supported our successful advocacy for a new water levels plan.

Now, with the River valley facing wind energy development on an unprecedented scale, research into the potential impacts is desperately needed.

Save The River does not oppose energy from wind or other non-carbon sources. We believe the clear threats to the River from traditional methods of energy production – coal, oil, gas – make it imperative that we shift to renewable energy sources and conservation measures. Appropriately sized and sited wind projects are a necessary part of a sustainable energy future.

HOWEVER, we do believe the scope, scale, number and geographic spread of industrial wind projects proposed in the River region in both New York and the province of Ontario dwarfs the current ability of residents, local governments and state agencies to understand the potential impacts of so many turbines in such a biologically diverse and ecologically sensitive area. The state and local officials who will decide if one, two or more of these projects get built require far more research specific to the area and the species and resources to be impacted than they now have or are likely to see presented in individual permit applications.

Decision-makers do not have an adequate base of knowledge on which to permit even one of the currently proposed industrial wind projectsBut they can!

Fortunately, even though the several projects proposed are individually owned and will be individually permitted, there is a mechanism in New York State law that can put the research needed into the hands of the public and decision-makers – a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“GEIS”).

Since 2010 Save The River has called for a comprehensive, region‐wide, cross‐border assessment of the cumulative environmental impacts of the many projects proposed in the River valley.

A GEIS will give the Article 10 Siting Boards and the town, village and county boards and the residents they represent the information they need to make informed decisions on the range of environmental and cultural impacts that are very likely to be compounded by multiple projects.

And you can help make this happen!

As these projects move forward in the application process it is important that the agency heads in Albany hear from all of us who want to make sure that solutions to problems like climate change are balanced, and based on reasoning and research. The Governor’s goal of sourcing 50% of the state’s energy needs from alternative sources by 2030 is a necessary step, but it is important that we make certain the state is not trading one set of negative impacts for another.

Contact the heads of the Public Service Commission and the Department of Environmental Conservation and tell them a Generic Environmental Impact Statement that includes all the industrial wind projects being proposed for the eastern shore of Lake Ontario and along the St. Lawrence Valley must be prepared prior to any project being permitted.

Save The River’s letter is here.

Contact:

Basil Segos, Commissioner
Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-1010
phone:  (518) 402-8545
– or – email the Commissioner
Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess
Secretary to the Commission
New York State Public Service Commission
Empire State Plaza
Agency Building 3
Albany, NY 12223-1350
phone:  (518) 474-6530
email: secretary@dps.ny.gov


Save The River and the standing heron are registered trademarks. Riverkeeper is a registered trademark of the Waterkeeper® Alliance

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Northern New York Business Magazine Interviews Riverkeeper / Executive Director

January 18th, 2017 | Posted by admin

“It was great to have the opportunity to talk about the tremendous success the River community had on the new water levels plan, Plan 2014, and the importance of the work we do to preserve, protect and restore the St. Lawrence River.”

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TODAY! January 7, 2017 – River Music!

January 7th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

TODAY! January 7, 2017! Music to the ears of the St. Lawrence River communities who have worked and waited for it for so long.

From the weekly update of the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board / Conseil international du lac Ontario et du fleuve Saint-Laurent,

“As mentioned in the IJC’s media release of 8 December 2016, Plan 2014 will be implemented effective Saturday, 7 January 2017.

Comme noté dans le communiqué du CMI du 8 décembre 2016, Plan 2014 sera en vigueur le samedi 7 janvier 2017.

We commend the IJC, and the U.S. and Canadian governments and are proud of the role Save The River, its members, followers and partners, played in seeing Plan 2014 enacted. More here.

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Tremendous video from the IJC summarizing the need for and benefits of Plan 2014

December 6th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

For the first time in over 50 years, we have a unique and rare opportunity to reduce the ecological impacts of unnatural water levels management on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Plan 2014, if implemented, will allow for more natural variability in water levels, set a positive precedent for deliberations on the Upper Great Lakes water levels regulation, and set the stage for the restoration of 64,000 acres of coastal wetlands – easily the largest single example of Great Lakes restoration to date.

Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River enhance the quality of life for all citizens who live, work and recreate in the coastal zones of the Lake and River. Since 2001, the IJC has worked with governments and stakeholders in New York, Ontario and Quebec to develop a new set of procedures for regulating the flow of water through dams in the St. Lawrence. This plan will “contribute to the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence system” (the IJC’s previously stated goal for a new regulation plan).

The benefits of Plan 2014 are not limited to the environment – recreational boating, hunting, fishing, increased coastal wetland resilience in the face of climate change, and cost-effective shipping all are strengthened under this new approach to regulation. Plan 2014 continues to provide considerable protection for coastal property as well.

It truly is time for #Plan2014Now.

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