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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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Agenda Set for Save The River’s 28th Winter Environmental Conference

February 2nd, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Saturday, February 4, attendees of this annual conference focused on the health of the St. Lawrence River will hear from an influential and diverse group of speakers.

Click here for the agenda for the day.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, whose district covers the entire length of the St. Lawrence River in the U.S., will speak on the strides made to protect the River Community and the important work done on issues ranging from Plan 2014 to combating invasive species.

Frank Bevacqua, Public Information Officer with the International Joint Commission, will talk about the differences in water levels on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario under Plan 2014, and what it means for boaters, shoreline residents and the natural environment.

Rob Caldwell, Canadian Regulation Representative with the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, will cover how the new plan compares to the one it replaced and potential impacts and benefits.

Lawrence Gunther, North America’s only blind professional angler and founder of Blue Fish Canada. Lawrence will talk about his experiences making the documentary “What Lies Below” for which he crossed Canada and spoke to sport and commercial fishermen and women about the challenges facing Canada’s wild fish stocks.

The St. Lawrence River Institute’s Mesha Boyer will present the film “A Great River Runs Through Us” which documents their extremely successful citizens’ River cleanup efforts in the Cornwall area this past summer.

Wrapping up the conference will be the First Lego League Team: Heritage Hi-Techs whose “Animal Allies” themed robotics competition entry was based on knowledge gained from Save The River and others about the need for responsible stewardship of the River’s threatened Muskellunge population.

Registration for this year’s Conference closes tomorrow Friday, February 3rd. To secure a place, it is best call the Save The River office at (315) 686-2010.

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Congresswoman Elise Stefanik to Speak at Winter Conference

January 30th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Rep. Elise Stefanik, whose district covers the entire length of the St. Lawrence River in the U.S., will speak at our 28th Winter Environmental Conference.

Her talk, “Working Together for Real Results for Our River Community”, is particularly timely as the new water levels plan for the River and Lake Ontario – Plan 2014 – for which Congresswoman Stefanik was a vocal supporter, has just gone into effect after an almost two decades long effort.

Ms. Stefanik, who spoke at last year’s conference, has worked with conservation and environmental organizations, like Save The River, on a broad range of issues of importance to preserving and protecting the vast and unique natural resources within the 21st Congressional District.

We are pleased to have her return.

Registration for the conference closes Friday, February 3.
Click here to download your registration form: http://ow.ly/zo3r308q3QM

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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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Vote!

November 8th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

vote.

Vote as if your children and their children’s access to swimmable, drinkable, fishable water depends on it.

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Demand that our elected officials at every level work for a healthy St. Lawrence River that provides safe drinking water, is home to a thriving range of indigenous species and supports sustainable economic activity.

 

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Local Fishing Guide Participates in Discussion About Stopping Asian Carp

August 9th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Alexandria Bay fishing guide Matt Heath, owner of Seaway Charters, took part in a Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, basin-wide discussion about the threat of Asian Carp and what is needed to prevent their spread to the Lakes and River.

The meeting, organized by Freshwater Future, included guides from Illinois, Michigan, Ontario, Ohio and Matt.

Their conclusion: Physical separation is the only effective way to prevent the spread of Asian Carp.

As Matt pointed out, “We know from experience that aquatic invasive species have devastating impacts on the Great Lakes all the way down the St. Lawrence River. Preventing future invasions is crucial to protect our waters. Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin have invested time and resources to close their connections, and it’s time we finally shut the front door to keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.”

From the Freshwater Future press release: “Asian carp are voracious eaters, eating up to 20% of their body weight. They spawn rapidly, and can grow to more than 4 feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds. To make matters worse, silver carp are easily startled and will jump up to 8 feet out of the water when disturbed by a passing boat. These fish have injured boaters in several states. These destructive fish dominate whole ecosystems, outcompeting native fish, like perch, bass, and walleye, for food and resources. . . Global biological invasions, including the potential carp invasion of the Great Lakes, could cost an estimated $1.4 trillion per year in damages – 5 percent of the global economy.”

We really appreciate Matt speaking out and participating in this very important issue. And we appreciate Freshwater Future for giving local voices a chance to speak out.

More at: Charter Boat Captains from Around the Region Calling on Congress to Separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River

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New York Invasive Species Week

July 11th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Invasive Species are not a pretty sight. And they are wrecking our River.2016-07-10 Invasive Species Week

It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week in New York. And it is up to each of us to keep new invaders out. By supporting strict ballast water discharge rules on ships, demanding the physical separation of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins, or taking personal responsibility and Cleaning, Draining & Drying our boats and equipment.

For more information visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Invasive Species webpage.

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It’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week

February 21st, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Something We on the River Know Too Much About

National Invasive Species Awareness Week is this week, February 21st-27th. Non-native plants, animals and pathogens harm humans and the environment and cause significant negative impact to our nation and the River region’s economy.

Invasive species have always been a threat to the River. To-date 186 invasive species have been documented in the Great Lakes and River.  Almost 60 aquaticAsian Carp invasive species have been introduced by way of ballast water since opening the Lakes and River to ocean-going ships. The resulting harm to indigenous species has cost many millions of dollars in control and mitigation efforts.

Even with increased regulations commercial shipping still poses a threat and opens the door for new invasive species to enter the River. And relatively new research has produced a list of ten species of eastern European fishes that are at high-risk of invading the Great Lakes and causing significant harm if they are successful even with strict enforcement of saltwater flushes of the ballast of ocean-going ships.

The threat of Asian Carp has been an imminent danger to the Great Lakes and River. Other threats include the live trade of exotic plants and animals and the transport of recreational boats and equipment from one waterbody to another without proper cleaning – an all too common practice that poses a threat to all waters when owners use their boats in different locations.

Last year New York State took a step forward to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and to protect our waters. Now all boats and floating docks launched in New York State must be clean of plant or animal matter. The intent of the new law is to prevent the spread of invasive species from one waterbody to another.

Cleaning your boat and trailer between waterbodies has long been a best practice to stop the spread of invasives. We hope that the state will follow up with extensive public outreach and education. Voluntary compliance is always preferable to enforcement.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is developing new regulations that will more clearly define how boaters must clean their vessels before entering the water. For a step-by-step guide on how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species visit:http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48221.html.

For more information on DEC boating regulations visit:http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/349.html.

For more information about invasive species click here.

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“How invasive species changed the Great Lakes forever”

December 31st, 2015 | Posted by Lee

MJS GREATLAKESExcellent series by Dan Egan in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first published July 26, 2014.

On the day the last ship has left and the Seaway locks are closed just briefly to the outside world it’s a good time to look at one of the most significant and ongoing impacts international shipping has had on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

The whole series is worth the time to understand the nature of the invasion, the invaders and what might be next.

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Tell Rep. Elise Stefanik “Thanks!” for her visit to Save The River & continued strong support for Plan 2014.

August 28th, 2015 | Posted by Lee

Please take a moment to call Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s office to say “Thanks!” Let her know that as a member, supporter or follower of Save The River you appreciate her visiting with us, her concern about the health of the St. Lawrence River and, especially now, her support of Plan 2014.

Jefferson and St. Lawrence County District office number:  (315) 782-3150
Washington, D.C. office number:  (202) 225-4611
-or- Send her an email (click here):

As part of her visits to many communities along the St. Lawrence River. Congresswoman Stefanik came to the Save The River office Wednesday to talk about Plan 2014, aquatic invasive species, microbeads and the threat of oil shipments on the River (among many other topics). It was an excellent first conversation. We came away very impressed with her grasp of the issues and her engagement in trying to find solutions that work for the benefit of all who share the use and enjoyment of the River.

We were particularly pleased with her continued strong support for Plan 2014, based as it is on a complete understanding of the problems the old water levels plan has caused and her commitment to be a strong advocate for adoption and implementation of the new plan soon.

Based on the discussion, we look forward to working with her on this and other River issues.

Your call or email of thanks to her office will let her know the River community appreciates and supports her efforts.

Coverage of her visit:
from the Watertown Daily Times
from TWC News Central/Northern NY

Stefanik Collage

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