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Trends in St. Lawrence Fish Populations and Efforts to Enhance the Fishery

January 29th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

John Farrell, Ph.D., SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Director of the Thousand Islands Biological Station, and Scott Schlueter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and Program Manager for the Fish Enhancement, Mitigation, and Research Fund (FEMRF) will speak about trends in St. Lawrence River fish populations and efforts to enhance the fishery, focusing on the conservation efforts for focal species. 

Long- term environmental monitoring of fish populations reveal the effects of aquatic invasive species and environmental variation. Apex predators in the St. Lawrence River, including muskellunge, have declined substantially following outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic septicemia. Restoration work (both species and habitat levels) holds promise to enhance populations within environmental constraints. The FEMRF is a settlement fund resulting from the St. Lawrence Power Project relicensing with a goal to benefit the fishery resources in the Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River Basin and continue research on the American Eel and other species that may be affected by the Project.

John Farrell is a Professor of Aquatic and Fisheries Science and Director of the Thousand Islands Biological Station on Governors Island in Clayton, New York. He has been engaged in aquatic research and management on the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes for nearly 30 years and has mentored numerous graduate and undergraduate students and has published and lectured extensively on fisheries, wetlands, and aquatic ecology.

Scott Schlueter is a Fish Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from SUNY-ESF. Scott has spent more than 20 years working on St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes fisheries issues, with a special interest in the conservation of Lake Sturgeon and American Eel.

Other speakers at the Conference will include:

  • Lana Pollack will speak about Plan 2014 after one year of extreme climate conditions.
  • Ann Ward will provide the welcome address marking Save The River’s 40th anniversary.
  • Bill Werick will speak about the adaptive management of Plan 2014.
  • David Bolduc will speak about Green Marine’s environmental certification for the maritime transportation industry.
  • Lee Harper and Michael Morgan will speak about St. Lawrence River Fowl including Common and Black Terns, grassland birds, waterfowl, and raptors.
  • Henry Lickers and Michael Twiss will speak about the St. Lawrence River as habitat from a native and non-native perspective.
  • Eric Sunday will speak about efforts to improve awareness and education of the community about the Sturgeon population and its cultural ties with the Mohawks of Akwesasne.

Click here for Conference registration form or call 315-686-2010 to register. $50 registration fee includes morning coffee, lunch, and light hors d’oeuvres at the cocktail reception (cash bar).

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Save The River’s 29th Annual Winter Environmental Conference

December 8th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

 

Save the date! Or, better yet, sign up and lock in your attendance now.

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The International Joint Commission assesses U.S. and Canadian efforts to improve Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water quality:

December 4th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

‘Commendable progress. Much more to be done.’

We were pleased to see the scope of the findings and the recommendations in the IJC report, premised as they are on sound science and significant public input. We were also pleased to get to comment on the report in a recent Watertown Daily Times​ article, “IJC report talks water quality concerns on Lake Ontario” by Gordon Block published December 1, 2017.

In its first assessment on how the two countries are doing to meet the goals of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the IJC found progress on the general objectives of accelerated restoration of contaminated Areas of Concern, the development of binational habitat conservation strategies, the absence of newly introduced aquatic invasive species, and comprehensive reporting on groundwater science.

But, and we here at Save The River​ definitely agree, the IJC finds:

– insufficient progress toward achieving human health objectives;
– insufficient progress on chemicals of mutual concern that pose a threat to the health of humans, wildlife and aquatic organisms;
– more work is required to control the spread of invasive species already in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River;
– there is no basin-wide perspective, approach or strategy for addressing climate change;
– the governments have not fully incorporated robust public engagement into their activities; and
– they should reach beyond the limits & audiences typically recognized & should factor in consideration of environmental justice as a key objective.

There is a lot in the report for anyone who cares about the health of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River and the people and communities that rely on them to be swimmable, fishable and drinkable.

The full report, “First Triennial Assessment of Progress on Great Lakes Water Quality“, is worth a read.

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Save The River Honors its Volunteers

August 11th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

2017 Volunteers & two of the Volunteers of the Year – Ron Daly (left) & Bill Taddeo (right)

On a beautiful summer day at the Bridge Authority’s Rift Camp, many of Save The River’s over 250 volunteers came together to share stories, celebrate their good work to protect the River, and to honor this year’s Volunteers of the Year – the men, women and students who have sampled the water quality at area swimming holes since 1998 – our Beach Watch Volunteers.

Save The River has many well-subscribed and robust volunteer programs – Common Tern Restoration, Riverkeeper & Jr. Riverkeeper, Shoal marking, Catch & Release, event support like Run for the River™ and others, and our many educational programs – and the volunteers for each are superstars. As we have said before, ‘Volunteers are the heart, soul and muscle of all we do to protect the St. Lawrence River.” But this year – a year with a few challenges where the water meets the shore – we chose to honor our Beach Watch volunteers.

  • This year we honor our volunteers for their long time involvement with the Beach Watch Program:
    • Jean and Ron Daly, monitoring Lake of the Isles since 2008
    • Ben Giardina, monitoring Lake of the Isles since 2015
    • Mary Mitchell, monitoring Scenic View Park since 2013
    • Maria Purcell, monitoring Potter’s Beach since 2008
    • Bill Taddeo, monitoring Wilsons Bay since 2014
    • Dick Withington, monitoring Round Island since 2007

What was true in 1998, when we introduced the program in a letter to local municipalities, is true today, when the results of our monitoring efforts are reported internationally, “Everyone loves to visit the ‘local swimming hole’ on a summer day on the River. Public dock areas, riverfront parks, and island beaches make for great swimming and sunning, digging in the sand or turning over rocks to find other River inhabitants sharing the same spot.” What we didn’t say explicitly then, but what we are all very aware of is that we all want the water we play in to be fishable, drinkable and swimmable. So we test once a week, rain or shine, for 9 weeks in the summer.

Over the years Save The River has worked in partnership with several associations including: Round Island Association, Lake of the Isles Association, the Thousand Islands Land Trust and property owners on and near Wilson’s Bay. Results are published weekly on our webpage, social media and in the Swim Guide website and app.

 

About Save The River® / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper®

Since 1978 Save The River, a community-based membership not-for-profit organization, has been the leading environmental organization fighting for the ecological integrity of the St. Lawrence River. Its mission is to preserve, protect and restore the River now, and for generations to come. It delivers educational programs to students and adults about the River, its fragility, and the importance of protecting it. Save The River is committed to being a forceful advocate for policies and programs that promote clean water protections and to resist those that eliminate or weaken them.

Please consider volunteering and becoming a member of Save The River to support our education programs and advocacy for a healthy St. Lawrence River.

Contact us at: info@savetheriver.org, or (315) 686-2010

Join or donate at: www.donate.savetheriver.org

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It’s a big River we all share, . . .

July 15th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

. . . and we at Save The River love our part of it.

Join us however you can in our work to preserve, protect and restore the St. Lawrence River, . . . now and for generations to come.

click the image for a larger version

https://donate.savetheriver.org/
#itsourriver #stlawrenceriver

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Changing Currents; This Saturday, April 29th – Be There!

April 25th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

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Join Us! Click here for more details

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2017 Summer Internships Available

January 13th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

2017 Summer Internship Positions Available

Save The River is looking for qualified candidates for paid internships this Summer.

The positions run from mid May through Labor Day.

Applications will be accepted until March 17, 2017.

There really is no better way to spend a summer – on the water, in the storefront, working on the frontlines with Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper protecting the River!

For more information and how to apply click here.

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Lawrence Gunther, President of Blue Fish Canada, to Speak at Winter Conference

January 6th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Check out the trailer for “What Lies Below” & you will definitely want to meet Lawrence Gunther, a great advocate for sustainable fishing. We are honored to have Lawrence share his experience, knowledge & wit at our Winter Conference.

Lawrence is North America’s only blind professional angler & champion of fish conservation. Drawing on his experience as a commercial fisher for Cod on Canada’s east coast, & as a competitive angler in over 125 fishing tournaments, he now focuses his energy on empowering others to become stewards of their waters & fish resources.

Prior to founding “Blue Fish Canada”, a charity dedicated to the future of fish & fishing, Lawrence earned a Masters in Environmental Studies that included conducting research throughout Canada’s Arctic & Scandinavia. His articles on sustainable fishing can be found in numerous outdoor publications, & his “Blue Fish Radio” podcasts (where he interviewed our Riverkeeper) are heard by over 100,000 listeners each week.

The documentary “What Lies Below” follows Lawrence & his guide dog as they explore ten fish habitat and sustainability stories throughout Canada. As host, Lawrence travels throughout Canada to speak with people who live by & from the water. What he learns is that there are a lot of people who feel strongly about the long term sustainability of their fishing resources.

So join us, your friends – old & new at Clayton’s 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel to celebrate and learn about the River we love.

Schedule:  Saturday, February 4, 2017

9:30am  – Registration and morning coffee

10:00 am – 4:00pm Presentations

4:00 pm – Cocktail Reception with cash bar

Additional details and updates will be posted here & on our Facebook events page

Conference fee: $50 (includes coffee, lunch, & cocktail reception with light hors d’oeuvres)

RSVP no later than Friday, January 27, 2017 to Save The River using the form found here or by calling us at (315) 686-2010.

We’ll see you there!

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More on the Documentary “Changing Currents: Protecting North America’s Rivers”

September 30th, 2016 | Posted by admin

As we reported here in an earlier post, “St. Lawrence River & Key Figures Play Big Role in Upcoming Film“, in June the crew from Changing Currents, PLU MediaLab, came to New York, Ontario and, specifically the St. Lawrence River for interviews and filming for “Changing Currents: Protecting North America’s Rivers”, an examination of river pollution and restoration efforts in North America.

In a recently released trailer for the movie portions of an interview with Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Save The River Executive Director Lee Willbanks are shown. “I am honored to be able to speak about the work we and many others have done to preserve, protect and restore the St. Lawrence River as part of what looks to be an excellent documentary about the threats to freshwater bodies across North America and some of the restoration efforts occurring in communities across the continent.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 50 percent of rivers and lakes in the United States are too polluted for swimming or fishing. The mission of the film is to educate others on ecological river health, encourage environmental stewardship and advocate for dialog regarding effective river protection. The film is currently in pre-production and will premiere on Nov. 12, 2016 in the Theatre on the Square at the Broadway Center for Performing Arts in Tacoma, Washington.

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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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