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Today, June 30th, is the Last Day of Run for the River’s Early Registraion

June 30th, 2015 | Posted by admin

Run 2015 with Sponsors

Today, June 30th, is the last day to receive a FREE T-SHIRT when you sign up for the 13th Annual Run for the River 5k/10k! Today is also the last day for pre-registration discounted prices.

Register today online or stop by our office at 409 Riverside Dr in Clayton.




See you on race day and thank you for supporting Save The River.



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Understanding Water Levels – Summer 2015

June 29th, 2015 | Posted by admin

As the summer season gets into full swing here on the River, there has been a lot of discussion particularly in the Thousand Islands area about the water levels on the St Lawrence. Here are some answers to the questions that you and your neighbors may have about conditions on the River this year.

Is the water level in the Thousand Islands area of the River low this year?

In the big picture, the water levels in the Thousand Islands stretch of the River are not actually low right now. While they are lower than last year, the current water levels are about three inches above the long-term average for the end of June.

Why are water levels lower than last year?

The water in the St Lawrence is lower than last year because the supply of water flowing into the river has been lower. You have to appreciate that the St Lawrence is part of a complex system. When looking at the water it contains, you need to look at where it comes from, whether it is the outflow from Lakes Ontario and Erie, this winter’s snowfall, or the recent rainfall and runoff.

While we did have a very cold winter, we didn’t actually get a lot of snow. Add to this our very dry spring and the result is lower water levels.  The water levels were 4-6 inches below average in May, as there was less rain than usual across much of the Great Lakes basin.  Precipitation in June has been higher and levels are now coming up faster than normal.

It’s also important to understand that while we on the River tend to like our water levels to be on the higher side, the health of the St. Lawrence depends on having a variety of levels including some infrequent low levels. Occasional low levels are essential to the health of the fish, the wildlife and the wetlands of the St. Lawrence River. There’s just no way around it. If we want a healthy river, we have to learn to live with a range of levels.

Was water let out for ships and commercial navigation? Is that why the water’s low?

While extra water was discharged to raise water levels for downstream shipping interests earlier in the year, it’s important to know that it is not affecting our current water level. Giving 3 inches of water to the Port of Montreal only brings down the water levels in the Thousand Islands and Lake Ontario by less than a third of an inch. Also, while there were a few of these short-term discharges for shippers early in the year, that water was restored within days of being released.

In other words, any and all discharges for commercial navigation were restored shortly after they occurred, and none of them caused a drop of more than a third of an inch in our water levels here on the River. Currently, these discharges are having no impact on our water levels.

What is Plan 2014 and has it been implemented?

Plan 2014 is the more natural plan for setting water levels that our communities have been pushing for to replace the outdated plan that is now more than 50 years old. Save The River strongly supports Plan 2014 as it will improve the overall health of the River and restore critical wetland habitat, provide greater economic opportunities for our tourism-based economy. Plan 2014 has been recommended for approval to the federal governments in the U.S. and Canada, however it has not yet been implemented.

Would Plan 2014 mean a longer boating season?

Most of the time yes, but not always. Overall, it’s clear that Plan 2014 would extend the boating season. Over the last hundred years, the boating season under Plan 2014 would have been 23 weeks or longer in 51 out of every 100 years. However, in a very few years, likely 6 or fewer years per century, Plan 2014 would allow the levels to drop when nature wants them to. These very occasional low summer levels are very important for the health of the River. During these years, marinas and docks constructed during periods of high water levels may experience difficulties. A comprehensive survey of recreational boating conducted by Cornell University says only a very small proportion of the marinas and docks would be affected.

Would the water be higher if we had Plan 2014?

Most years, yes. This year? No. This year, if Plan 2014 were in place, the level would be almost exactly the same as our current level. But remember, because of the way it allows for more natural water levels, Plan 2014 would restore more than 60,000 acres of wetlands, and there would be additional Northern Pike, terns and other species for our children and grandchildren to catch, watch and enjoy. In short, water levels will always fluctuate but until we get approval of Plan 2014, they will not do so in a way that benefits the River.

For more information on Plan 2014 call our office 315-686-2010 or go to

For more information on current water levels go to the Facebook page of the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control:

Click here to support Plan 2014 today.

Click here for a printable PDF.

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Run for the River – Time is running out!

June 23rd, 2015 | Posted by admin

Register by June 30th to receive your free T-shirt and discounted rates!

Save The River’s 13th annual run will take place on Saturday, July 25th.  Pre-registration, which offers a complimentary t-shirt and discounted rate, ends June 30th.

2015 Front Run Shirt

Each year the event raises several thousand dollars for our River protection programs.  The fast and flat course winds through downtown Clayton and along the waterfront. We’re excited to welcome back Yellow Jacket Racing to provide professional timing for the race! Runners, walkers (5K only), are welcome to participate in this event for all ages and abilities!  Race Day Volunteers are also needed, please contact Bridget at (315) 686-2010.

Event Details:

Date: Saturday, July 25, 2015

Times: Registration begins at Frink Park at 7:30 a.m. Race begins promptly at 9:00 a.m.

Location: Registration and race start at Frink Park, downtown Clayton.

Registration: Pre-registration is $25/5K & $30/10K through June 30th.  (Pre-registration available online or at the Save The River office.) July 1st through Race Day registration is $30/5K & $35/10K. Save The River Members receive $5 off registration!

Don’t want to wait in long Race Day registration lines?  Pre-register and pick up your registration packet the day before!

Pre-Registration Packet pick up: Thursday, July 23rd and Friday, July 24th12 – 4 p.m. at Save The River office, 409 Riverside Drive, Clayton.

Awards will be given for top male and female runners in each age category.

Event timed by Yellow Jacket racing.

For full registration details and race course, download the race brochure or visit our website.

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Group helps give ‘Haas the Great Blue Heron’ wings, and author returns favor

June 19th, 2015 | Posted by admin

By Tim Lyman

Published: Friday June 19, 2015 by the Watertown Daily Times

CLAYTON — Sometimes, the work you do in college can help your community nearly 20 years down the road. That’s the case with “Haas the Great Blue Heron: The Beginning of an Adventure,” a children’s book in which a father heron eagerly awaits the hatching of his egg near the St. Lawrence River. After a night’s indecision, the father heron names his chick “Haas” after the sound he makes when he is born.

CoverThe book was written by Juliane B. Flora in 1994 and completed in 1996, while she was a student at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt., but was never published. It was illustrated with artwork by Ms. Flora’s late mother, Diane Bauer.

Stephanie Weiss, who lives near Fishers Landing, assistant director of Save the River, a Clayton nonprofit dedicated to preserving the St. Lawrence River and the surrounding area, has been friends with Ms. Flora “since we were little” and thought it was a good time to share her book with the world. She contacted the author to tell her about a grant Save the River offered that was funded by the Northern New York Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Council in Watertown.

Save the River sent a grant proposal to the Youth Philanthropy Council asking for funds to publish the book.

The grant was approved in early 2013, and the book was published in August.

“My intention has always been to publish it,” said Ms. Flora of Clayton, originally of Red Hook. “I worked at Fort Drum; with starting a family and a busy work schedule, life just got in the way.”

“It would not have happened without the assistance of the grant,” she said.

When the publishing project was presented to Save the River’s education committee, Heather White, a board member who is a kindergarten teacher at Sherman Elementary School in Watertown, suggested adding informational inserts to the book to help it align with Common Core standards. That way teachers could write lesson plans on it to use in the classroom. It was decided that Mrs. White would add the information to the book.

“This book project was a good fit with Save the River’s In the Schools program. It’s a beautiful story of a heron, and with us adding the nonfiction part, it makes a complete package,” she said.

Mrs. White, whose kids are “sixth-generation on Wellesley Island,” has introduced lessons for her class that correlate with the lessons taught in the book. She also built a full-scale model of a heron’s nest for her students, and some children were surprised to see that the nest was bigger than they were.

“Whenever you can add a hands-on experience to a lesson, it helps the student to understand the material,” Mrs. White said.

Ms. Flora decided to donate all the proceeds from sales of the book to the In the Schools program. Launched in 2009, this program introduced a partnership with local schools that educate students about the St. Lawrence River. The program assists with curriculum development and field-trip support.

Kate Breheny of Clayton, Save the River’s program director, said two schools have purchased sets of the book for their libraries: Watertown’s Sherman Elementary and Guardino Elementary School in Clayton.

“By us having the book in our schools, the students are learning about the heron and the organization,” Ms. Breheny said. She said selling the book through Amazon has enabled the nonprofit to reach an “international audience.”

The book was published through CreateSpace, an Amazon company that allows people to self-publish their work online.

Between online sales and school sales, the book has sold 380 to 400 copies, with more sales expected as more people become aware of it.

Ms. Flora plans to write two more books about Haas and hopes to use more original illustrations by her late mother for “The Stormy Adventure” and by Ms. Weiss for “How a Heron Hunts.”

The book can be purchased either at Save the River or Amazon for $10.

Support Save The River’s In The Schools Program Today!

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New Michael Ringer Print for Save The River’s Muskie Catch & Release Program

June 18th, 2015 | Posted by admin

Save The River is pleased to announce that this summer, participants in the Muskie Catch & Release program will receive a new Michael Ringer print-Sovereign. It is the fourth print dedicated to the Muskie Catch & Release program donated by renowned River artist Michael Ringer.


Since 1987 Save The River, SUNY-ESF, and local fishing guides have partnered to offer anglers a limited edition Michael Ringer print to anglers who catch-and-release a legal sized Muskie. To date, Save The River has awarded over 1,000 prints to St. Lawrence River fisherman who release these prized fish.  Every angler must submit a Muskie Release Affidavit to receive his or her print. The information from the affidavit is given to our partners at SUNY-ESF to aid their research on muskellunge.

This year NYS DEC increased the legal minimum size for Muskellunge to 54 inches. The previous legal size minimum was 48 inches.

In addition to Muskie, Save The River’s Catch & Release program focuses on smallmouth bass with a weekly contest were anyone can win prizes for submitting catch and release bass photos. For more up to date information about the St Lawrence River fishery and to enter the weekly photo contest like Save The River’s Catch & Release Program page on Facebook. For additional information, please contact Lindsey Leve, Outreach Coordinator at 686-2010 or

Published by the Thousand Islands Sun on June 17th, 2015

View the print article here.

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Watertown Daily Times Editorial, STOP THE DELAYS: There is no reason to continue putting off Plan 2014.

June 17th, 2015 | Posted by Lee

Published: Wednesday, June 17th by the Watertown Daily Times

It’s difficult imagining that a proposal enjoying widespread support from most interested parties remains mired in bureaucratic delays.

The International Joint Commission, an agency overseeing the waterways between Canada and the United States, released and endorsed its Plan 2014 a year ago today. The proposal took about 15 years and about $20 million to develop. It would update Plan 1958-D and Plan 1958-DD, which regulate water flow in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River and have not been revised in more than 50 years.

These previous plans have resulted in serious damage to the ecosystems of these international waters, which are moderated through the release of water at the Robert H. Moses-Saunders Power Dam in Massena and Cornwall, Ontario. The proposal would make these waterways healthier and prepare for climate change by regulating the extreme high and low water levels and follow their natural, seasonal flows.

The IJC unanimously approved Plan 2014 last year and sent it to Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry. But there has been no movement so far on the proposal, and it’s not known when action will be taken on it.

People living in coastal properties along the southern lakeshore, however, believe that Plan 2014 would increase the potential for flooding. With the blessing of governmental entities years ago, these property owners built homes close to the shoreline.

Their concern is understandable, but they have not offered an alternate proposal to restore the health to these waterways. They will continue to degrade if Plan 2014 is not implemented.

Representatives of the Clayton-based Save the River spoke with members of the Watertown Daily Times editorial board earlier this week. The group has strongly endorsed Plan 2014, but Executive Director D. Lee Willbanks said the proposal appears to be in limbo.

“There’s been no visible movement,” he said. “Basically, the word we get back is that the review is ongoing.”

That’s government-speak for no one wants to be first to get the ball rolling.

U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willboro, has voiced her support for Plan 2014 as have U.S. Sens. Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and that’s encouraging. They hopefully will be able to nudge some people out of their complacency and put this proposal into action.

Despite all the advantages that Plan 2014 has going for itself, it’s startling that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has not taken a stand as of yet. His voice is needed to call on U.S. officials to stop the delays, complete the review process and put Plan 2014 into play.

Organizations with interests tied to these waterways also must become involved. Some may be reluctant to take a stand because they view this as primarily a political issue.

It’s more than mere politics, however; it’s a matter of economic prosperity. Reversing the damage done to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River will enhance the region’s appeal to tourists, and that will result in more revenue coming into the communities along these waterways.

In addition, implementing Plan 2014 will increase water flow through the Moses-Saunders Power Dam. This will mean that more energy, and thus more revenue, is produced. Some of this extra money should be used to help mitigate potential flooding along the southern lakeshore.

There is no reason to continue putting off Plan 2014. The ecosystems of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River will continue to deteriorate until action is taken to restore their health.

Plan 2014 has solid science behind it, and is the only proposal on the table that addresses how to reverse the ecological damage done to these international waters. It’s time for Canadian and U.S. officials, along with Mr. Cuomo, to get on board.

Call Governor Cuomo today and urge him to support Plan 2014.

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Save The River Featured in NNY Outdoor Magazine’s Spring/Summer 2015 Issue

June 16th, 2015 | Posted by admin

NNY Outdoors page 1NNY Outdoors Page 2NNY Outdoors Page 3NNY Outdoors Page 4NNY Outdoors Page 5

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Clayton’s Save The River pushes for water regulation plan approval

June 16th, 2015 | Posted by admin

By Brian Kelly

Published: Tuesday June 16, 2015 by the Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — It has been a year since an updated regulation plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River was submitted for approval to the U.S. and Canadian governments, and Save the River is renewing its call for action on it.

The International Joint Commission, which oversees the regulation of the international waterways, has recommended the countries adopt Plan 2014, which would update two plans, Plan 1958-D and Plan 1958-DD, which have not been significantly updated in more than 50 years.

The plan took about 15 years and about $20 million to develop and has drawn widespread support from both sides of the border. IJC commissioners unanimously approved the updated plan June 17, 2014, and forwarded it to the U.S. and Canadian governments, where it awaits the approval of Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

But that approval has not come and there is no timetable for when it will occur.

“There’s been no visible movement,” D. Lee Willbanks, executive director of Save the River, Clayton, told the Times editorial board Monday. “Basically, the word we get back is that the review is ongoing.”

Mr. Willbanks said that given the plan’s broad support and the amount of scientific research that went into its formation, he is uncertain why the governments have been slow to adopt it.

“We’re expecting them to not have questions because it’s been a 15-year process,” he said.

Much of the resistance to the plan has originated along the south shore of Lake Ontario, particularly in the Rochester area, where property owners along the shore typically believe the updated plan calls for water levels higher than they would be under unregulated conditions. The property owners fear flooding and shoreline erosion, as well as the possibility of decreased property values, among other concerns.

The flows of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are moderated through the release of water at the Robert H. Moses-Saunders Power Dam in Massena and Cornwall, Ontario. The IJC has determined that its earlier plans for the regulation of water levels and flows in the waterways have damaged ecosystems along the coast of Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River over the last 50 years. The commission concedes that effects of the regulation of water flows and lake levels on ecosystems were not fully understood or considered when the existing regulation plan was developed, and Plan 2014 takes these effects into consideration.

“This plan would probably actually help (south shore residents) in the long run,” Mr. Willbanks said.

Mr. Willbanks said the plan’s approval by the federal government would receive a boost from an endorsement by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has been an advocate for environmental issues throughout his term as governor. But he has not expressed support for Plan 2014. Mr. Willbanks said he believes the Canadian government will adopt the plan once the U.S. government does so.

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S.3932, Microbead-Free Waters Act from TI High School’s SAFE Club

June 16th, 2015 | Posted by admin

Dear Leader Flanagan and Chairman O’Mara:

We are writing to express our strong support for S.3932, the Microbead-Free Waters Act. Our club, Student Activists For the Environment (SAFE) chose microbeads as the environmental issue we would focus our attention on this year. We conducted a school-wide campaign to increase awareness of microbeads, because many students use the products with microbeads unknowingly.  We put up posters, created a FaceBook page and a petition supporting S.3932.  We were the only student group to participate in Microbead Lobbying Day in May, traveling to Albany to present our campaign.  Our school district is on the banks of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, so microbead pollution is very real to us.  Our waterways need the protection of S.3932!

According to the Office of NYS AG Eric Schneiderman. “Unseen Threat: How Microbeads Threaten New York Waters, Wildlife, Health, and Environment.” (2014), it is estimated that 19 tons of microbeads enter the wastewater stream in NY annually. A study in 2013 found as many 1.1 million microplastics per square kilometer in Lake Ontario. Since the outlet of the Great Lakes is the St. Lawrence River, all these microbeads are flowing into “our” river!

Safer, non-polluting, natural alternatives can be used as abrasives in personal care products instead of plastic microbeads. “Biodegradable” is a misleading claim.  Biodegradable plastics tend not to actually biodegrade, but instead simply break down into smaller pieces that will remain in the environment for a long time. In addition to being harmful pollutants themselves, microbeads absorb other toxic chemicals once in the environment, including PCBs and DDT, among others. Fish and other aquatic organisms, including birds and invertebrates, have been shown to ingest microbeads.  Once ingested, these pollutants move up the food chain and into our food supply.

The Microbead-Free Waters Act (S.33932) would ensure that all manufacturers eliminate the use of all plastic microbeads in a timely manner, before additional damage is done. The timing of the ban is critical, starting in 2016.    This ban would include so called “biodegradable plastics.”  New York’s Microbead-Free Waters Act would “raise the bar” on the Illinois law, effectively driving the market toward safer alternatives throughout the nation and beyond. The bill already includes compromises to address industry concerns, including an exemption for prescription medications, and providing an extra year before the ban takes effect for products that require FDA approval.

With 37 Senate cosponsors and the near unanimous passage in the Assembly earlier this year, we urge the Senate to schedule a floor vote before you depart Albany on June 17.  This legislation has broad, bipartisan support from senators of every region and across the political spectrum. There is no acceptable reason to keep it from receiving a fair floor vote.

We strongly urge the Senate to pass S.3932 this year, protecting New Yorkers from the negative health and environmental impacts of microbead pollution.


Student Activists For the Environment (SAFE) Club

Thousand Islands High School

Clayton, NY 13624

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The Thousand Islands Arts Center and Save The River partner to present Chris Murray Photography from June 18th – July 5th at the Arts Center.

June 11th, 2015 | Posted by admin

2015-06-10 Chris Murray TI Sun



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