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Drawing February 28, 2017. Good Luck!
After almost 20 years of effort the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario have a new, modern water levels plan.
Today the International Joint Commission announced that Plan 2014 will be implemented, returning more natural levels and flows to the River.
Replacing the current, more than 50-year-old plan, will begin the restoration of critical wetland habitat. The tourism economy of the River communities, dependent as it is on a healthy River ecosystem, will also see significant benefits.
Save The River has advocated for a modern water levels plan for the River for decades and we continued our efforts with others this year following American River’s designation of the St. Lawrence as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. But the announcement today could not have happened without our members and followers, the thousands of individuals who love the Lake and River and the other conservation, environmental and sportsmen organizations, businesses, governments, and elected officials who have demanded real change and action.
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.
The benefits of Plan 2014 include: a 40% increase in wet meadow acreage; a 39% rebound in populations of Northern Pike, the top fish predator in coastal marshes; a 16% rebound in Black Tern populations, a state listed endangered species; a $9.1 million annual increase in recreational activity along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario; a frequently longer recreational boating season; and will continue over 50 years of significant shoreline protection.
Save The River is committed to seeing that the improvements in River health envisioned in Plan 2014 are realized. And while the new plan is a significant step to restoring the River, it is just a piece of our mission to preserve, protect and restore the St. Lawrence River to ensure it is passed on undiminished for future generations to share; providing safe drinking water, is a home to a thriving range of indigenous species and supporting sustainable economic activity.
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.