Clayton, NY— The Jefferson County Board of Legislators and the Clayton Town Board have unanimously passed resolutions in support of Plan 2014 at their August and July meetings respectively. Plan 2014 is a new approach to water level management in Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River and is an issue of fundamental importance to the economy and quality of life throughout the Great Lakes region. These resolutions come on the heels of a support letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, signed by 41 environmental, sportsmen, higher education and conservation organizations including Save The River.
The support of Jefferson County and the Town of Clayton are especially important because of the recognition of the impact a healthy Lake Ontario, which borders Jefferson County to the west, and St. Lawrence River, bordering the county to the north and on which the Town of Clayton is located, will have on their tourism, recreation-based economies. Earlier this summer the International Joint Commission (IJC), which oversees regulation of water levels, referred Plan 2014 to the federal governments in the United States and Canada.
“Support for a modern water levels plan has always been strong along the St. Lawrence River. Our citizens, community and business leaders and visitors understand the strong connection between a healthy environment and a healthy economy,” said Lee Willbanks, Save The River’s executive director, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper. “ Jefferson County and the Town of Clayton have made their intentions clear. Plan 2014 must be approved without delay.”
Orleans legislator Phil Reed brought Jefferson County’s resolution to the floor saying, “after 10 years and $20 million, the impacts and benefits including increased hydropower have been thoroughly studied and it’s time for action. Over the last 60 years our habitat has taken a hit, and this will go a long way to fixing not only the fisheries but the tourism economy that relies on them.”
“Tourism is the keystone of the economic survival of the region bordering the St. Lawrence River,” stated Clayton Town Supervisor Justin Taylor, “and a healthy St. Lawrence River is the keystone to a healthy tourism industry. River residents and municipalities must stand together to support this important Plan.”
Other county legislators, including Michael J. Docteur, R-Cape Vincent, and Jeremiah J. Maxon, R-Adams, voiced their support for the plan before the board passed the resolution, noting the positive impacts of the Plan on the Lake and River and thus the region’s economy. Legislator Docteur made it clear the time has come for the Plan to be implemented.
Plan 2014 is intended to restore fish populations, wetland function and wildlife, by allowing more natural fluctuations in water levels while avoiding extreme high and low levels. The plan is the result of a 10-year, $20 million process sponsored by the IJC, which includes representatives from the U.S. and Canada. It will restore the plant and animal diversity of coastal wetlands and increase opportunities for hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, proponents of the plan say.
Plan 2014 represents an innovative approach to water level regulation in Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River, working with nature as a partner, rather than an adversary. The plan was formulated over the course of ten years with the input of more than 180 stakeholder representatives, experts, and scientists from government agencies, academia, NGO’s and industry in New York, Ontario, and Quebec.
To learn more about Plan 2014 click here.
Article published by the Thousand Islands Sun on August 13th, 2014.