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International Joint Commission launches public consultations on progress by the governments to restore and protect the Great Lakes

September 30th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

Over the next year, citizens throughout the Great Lakes basin can participate in online & in-person discussions & meetings to provide their perspectives about progress by the governments of Canada & the United States under the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Their viewpoints will contribute to the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) first assessment of progress made by the governments to restore & protect the Great Lakes under the 2012 Agreement.ijc-glwqa

“Residents of the Great Lakes basin have a vital interest in this Agreement, which embodies the spirit of cooperation between our two countries, as well as the joint goals & activities needed to restore and protect Great Lakes water quality,” said Gordon Walker, chair, IJC Canadian Section.

“Restoring Great Lakes water quality continues to be an ambitious undertaking, so it is critical that citizens express their views on progress to implement this Agreement & work that still needs to be done,” said Lana Pollack, chair, IJC US Section.

Throughout the next ten months, the IJC will host a series of monthly online discussions on its online democracy platform called ParticipateIJC. The sharing platform will include valuable information about the Agreement & provide opportunities for citizens throughout the Great Lakes region to contribute videos, photos, stories & comments, & talk with others about progress to restore & protect the lakes. It will also provide video from the Great Lakes Public Forum & other meetings held around the basin for those who cannot attend in person. ParticipateIJC will include a variety of discussion forums as well as new information as public meetings are held in towns throughout the Great Lakes region.

Between the end of October 2016 and mid-January 2017, the IJC will pull all the information together – the governments’ progress report, its advisory boards’ reports and assessments, and citizens’ comments – to write a draft of its Triennial Assessment Report. Once that’s released in mid-January, the IJC will head back out to hear what citizens think of that report and issues they’re concerned about in their area in a series of public meetings in communities across the Great Lakes basin. The draft report and its appendices will be posted at IJC.org and on ParticipateIJC to encourage discussion and comments. A final report will be released in summer 2017 that will incorporate all scientific, policy and citizen input.

Click here to join in the conversation.

More on the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website).

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Industrial Wind Development Needs to Avoid Shoreline Areas

August 17th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

“The importance of shoreline areas, as revealed by our [US Fish and Wildlife Service] study, highlight the need to avoid these areas as migration corridors as recommended in the Service’s Land-Based Wind Energy Guideline.” (from the “Great Lakes Avian Radar Technical Report; Niagara, Genesee, Wayne and Jefferson Counties, New York, Spring Season [just released])

This study must be taken into account by every level of government agency – from local municipal, to state and federal – that has any permitting or oversight authority at all. And, in particular the New York State Departments of Public Service and Environmental Conservation which have shared, sole responsibility, under Article 10, for the permitting and siting of industrial wind projects.

The United State Fish and Wildlife Service, after years of study, using radar generated data, issued a report this July Eagle on the St. Lawrence Riverstating, “Our data demonstrate that the shoreline areas of Lake Ontario are important for migrating birds and bats. We have identified behaviors that concentrate migrants along the shoreline, demonstrated that these behaviors occur regularly throughout the season, and established that migrants are flying at altitudes that place them at risk of collision with current or future wind energy development in the area. The importance of shoreline areas, as revealed by our study, highlight the need to avoid these areas as migration corridors as recommended in the Service’s Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines (USFWS 2012).

Per Dr. Michael Hutchins, Director of the American Bird Conservancy Bird-Smart Wind Energy Program, “The study provides fresh and compelling evidence that wind-energy development does not belong on the shores of the Great Lakes, as ABC, Black Swamp Bird Observatory, and other conservation groups have argued. It confirms what we have long known: In the absence of proven methods to reduce bird collisions with turbines, wind-energy development must be sited in areas where there are fewer birds and bats to minimize harm to these ecologically important animals.”

ABC continued “The FWS currently recommends that no wind turbines be built within three miles of the Great Lakes’ shorelines, while The Nature Conservancy recommends five miles. However, this new radar study suggests that the minimum should be extended even farther, perhaps as far as 10 miles. Unfortunately, the wind industry is eager to build in these sensitive areas.”

We couldn’t agree more.

more information at:
USFWS
American Bird Conservancy

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We Remember

June 23rd, 2016 | Posted by Lee
40 Years Ago the St. Lawrence River joined the ranks of waterways abused and assaulted by the vagaries of careless industrial use when 300,000 gallons of petroleum was spilled and spread into its countless bays, backwaters and coves.
The River and the communities that depend on it being healthy have never been the same.
The River faces some of the same challenges now as then, but also new ones as well. NCPR helps us remember the “Slick of 76” and put it into a perspective for today, when our River has been named as one of the ten most endangered rivers in America for a water levels plan that predates the NEPCO 140 spill by almost 20 years. http://ow.ly/xwf0301xxBt
The “Slick” reminds us all that vigilance in the effort to protect our freshwater is a must.

40 Years Ago the St. Lawrence River joined the ranks of waterways abused and assaulted by the vagaries of careless industrial use when 300,000 gallons of petroleum was spilled and spread into its countless bays, backwaters and coves.

The River and the communities that depend on it being healthy have never been the same.1976 NEPCO 140 Spill A-Bay Cleanup

The River faces some of the same challenges now as then, but also new ones as well. NCPR helps us remember the “Slick of 76” and put it into a perspective for today, when our River has been named as one of the ten most endangered rivers in America for a water levels plan that predates the NEPCO 140 spill by almost 20 years.

The “Slick” reminds us all that vigilance in the effort to protect our River is a must. Personal action to ensure its health is imperative.

Now the action needed is replacing an outdated water levels plan with a modern one – Plan 2014 – to begin the restoration of the over 64,000 acres of wetlands the River and Lake Ontario have lost, bring back the native species whose populations have been decimated – Northern Pike down 70%, Black Tern down 80% – and give our children and their children the opportunity to know the River our grandparents knew.

Take action – Support Plan 2014.

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Thousand Islands ranked No. 1 on list of nation’s archipelagos

January 27th, 2016 | Posted by Lee

From today’s Watertown Daily Times editorial page, “Promoting the Thousand Islands as a wonderful tourist destination recently became a little easier. . . By focusing on water quality and watershed issues, members of Save the River do their part to attract visitors.” It is worth a full read.

With a super shout out to Save The River, the editorial correctly mentions our members. They are full-time and seasonal residents, boaters, kayakers, swimmers, anglers, divers, birders, hunters, scientists, artists, teachers, students of all ages, public figures, business owners, Canadian and American. And they are members because they believe in our mission to protect and preserve the St. Lawrence River.

Even so, we are not in this alone, and the River region (and Save The River) is blessed to have a tremendous number of groups and agencies all working to keep the land and water clean and sustaining for generations. A partial list of those we partner with: Waterkeeper AllianceThousand Islands Land TrustIndian River Lakes ConservancyMinna Anthony Common Nature Center – FriendsNew York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic PreservationIJC – International Joint CommissionAudubon New YorkDucks UnlimitedLake Ontario WaterkeeperWWF-CanadaSUNY-ESFAlgonquin to Adirondacks CollaborativeClarkson UniversityHealing Our Waters – Great Lakes CoalitionAntique Boat MuseumThe Nature Conservancy in New YorkWilson Hill Wildlife Management AreaSt. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental SciencesAlliance for the Great LakesThousand Islands Tourism CouncilAquatarium, and so many others.

We all have a place on the River and we all have a role in using it sustainably, and ensuring it is swimmable, drinkable and fishable to seven generations.

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Let the River Flow

October 29th, 2015 | Posted by Lee
“While picturesque, the cattail stands along this stretch of the St. Lawrence River illustrate the loss of biodiversity due to outdated water-levels management.”
“Plan 2014 would return some of the natural fluctuations . . . and the ecosystem would once again thrive.”
from Waterkeeper Magazine, volume 11, issue 2, page 22, http://ow.ly/U0lyu

2015-10 WKA Magazine (Ripples)from Waterkeeper Magazine, volume 11, issue 2, page 22

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Save The River Honors Its Exceptional Volunteers

August 7th, 2015 | Posted by Lee
Thursday night we held our annual Volunteer Appreciation Party at the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority’s Rift Camp to honor our cadre of over 500 volunteers.
While each and every one of our volunteers is a valuable member of our team and key to our many successes, each year Save The River does recognize a ‘Volunteer of the Year’, volunteers who have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty in their volunteer work and whose assistance has advanced Save The River’s efforts to protect the St. Lawrence River in a significant way.
This year’s Save The River Volunteer of the Year is The Thousand Island High School’s SAFE (Student Activists for the Environment) Club members and their faculty advisor. These dedicated students – Ashley Byers, Lexi Cassidy, Noah Crandal, John Hunter, McKenna Schnauber and Maura Warren and their advisor, Eleanor Thomas, were chosen in recognition of the club’s outstanding efforts in addressing and raising awareness to their school, their community and New York State’s elected leaders about the threat of microbead pollution in the St. Lawrence River.
This year SAFE set high goals for itself and succeeded in achieving them. They brought awareness of the threat of microbead pollution to the River by conducting a school-wide campaign; creating informative posters, creating a social media campaign using the hashtag “TIBeatsBeads” circulating a student petition.  They also wrote several letters to elected officials expressing their strong support for legislation in the New York State Senate, the Microbead-Free Waters Act, and they traveled to Albany May 5th where they participated with representatives of numerous groups from across New York in the Microbead Lobby Day meeting with several elected officials, including New York State Senator Patty Ritchie.
With a summer staff that swells to only 7, including our 2 interns, we simply could not accomplish our many programmatic, educational and advocacy goals without the active support of our many volunteers.
Some of the notable statistics about our volunteers, they:
– accumulated an estimated 2,000 hours of service;
– came from as far as Lisbon, New York and Ottawa, Ontario;
– over 240 who trained to become Riverkeeper volunteers
– over 30 teachers from area schools who educated more than 1,000 students this year alone (over 3,000 over the life of the In the Schools program);
– mark over 80 of the most dangerous shoals on the River;
– collect water samples at 6 of the region’s most popular swimming locations;
– assist with the Common Tern Monitoring collaboration with the
Thousand Islands Land Trust;
– help with Winter Conference, Rock for the River and Run for the
River; and
– work behind the scenes at the office working on countless mailings and projects.

IMG_0443

Thursday night we held our annual Volunteer Appreciation Party at the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority’s Rift Camp to honor our cadre of over 500 volunteers.

While each and every one of our volunteers is a valuable member of our team and key to our many successes, each year Save The River does recognize a ‘Volunteer of the Year’, volunteers who have consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty in their volunteer work and whose assistance has advanced Save The River’s efforts to protect the St. Lawrence River in a significant way.

This year’s Save The River Volunteer of the Year is The Thousand Island High School’s SAFE (Student Activists for the Environment) Club members and their facultyadvisor. These dedicated students – Ashley Byers, Lexi Cassidy, Noah Crandal, John Hunter, McKenna Schnauberand Maura Warren and their advisor, Eleanor Thomas, were chosen in recognition of the club’s outstanding efforts in addressing and raising awareness to their school, their community and New York State’s elected leaders about the threat of microbead pollution in the St. Lawrence River.

This year SAFE set high goals for itself and succeeded in achieving them. They brought awareness of the threat of microbead pollution to the River by conducting a school-wide campaign; creating informative posters, creating a social media campaign using the hashtag “TIBeatsBeads” circulating a student petition.  They also wrote several letters to elected officials expressing their strong support for legislation in the New York State Senate, the Microbead-Free Waters Act, and they traveled to Albany May 5th where they participated with representatives of numerous groups from across New York in the Microbead Lobby Day meeting with several elected officials, including New York State Senator Patty Ritchie.

With a summer staff that swells to only 7, including our 2 interns, we simply could not accomplish our many programmatic, educational and advocacy goals without the active support of our many volunteers.

Some of the notable statistics about our volunteers, they:
– accumulated an estimated 2,000 hours of service;
– came from as far as Lisbon, New York and Ottawa, Ontario;
– over 240 who trained to become Riverkeeper volunteers
– over 30 teachers from area schools who educated more than 1,000 students this year alone (over 3,000 over the life of the In the Schools program);
– mark over 80 of the most dangerous shoals on the River;
– collect water samples at 6 of the region’s most popular swimming locations;
– assist with the Common Tern Monitoring collaboration with the
Thousand Islands Land Trust;
– help with Winter Conference, Rock for the River and Run for the
River; and
– work behind the scenes at the office working on countless mailings and projects.

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Save The River Urges State to Not Weaken Water Quality Monitoring

March 14th, 2014 | Posted by Lee

Save The River joined individuals and organizations across the State today and submitted comments urging the Department of Environmental Conservation to maintain its water quality monitoring of the state’s waters and the St. Lawrence River on a 5 year schedule, not the 10 years it has proposed. It also urged the DEC to resume monitoring for a range of disease causing pollutants that it recently and quietly stopped.

Save The River’s comments can be read here: 2014-03-14 STR Comment Ltr on NYS DEC CALM Proposal

Some notable comments from around the St. Lawrence River basin:

I am a year-round resident of an island in the St. Lawrence River. Water quality is an issue to me every day. Testing it once every ten years and then using that one set of data to decide issues for the ensuing ten years is useless, in my view. We sample the water weekly during the summer months, and it is tested by Save the River. I would think that you might utilize that data and therefore have more data to support water quality decisions. In any event, saving money by not monitoring our most valuable resource, is foolish economy. You can do better than that. Thanks for your consideration. – RL Withington, MD

As a proponent of clean rivers and a woman who has worked for this for many years–now being 88–please do not let water pollution increase. Keep and improve the standards–my grandchildren depend on you!! – Ann B. Ward

I am concerned about the presence of pollutants in our waterbodies and rely on DEC to test for all the pollutants that impact the health of our waterways. . . Without regular testing and reporting on pathogens/sewage-contamination, public health is put at risk and the sources of pollution are left undetected. . . Like so many New Yorkers, I consider clean water one of our most valuable resources. Please invest our clean water dollars in a robust water quality monitoring and assessment program that conducts regular and thorough testing of our waterways and utilizes all reliable sources of water quality data. – S. Jeffrey Burt

It is a moral crime and a disservice to our citizenry to reduce water quality testing in NY State at a time when it’s waters are under increased threat due to fertilizer run-off from farming and waste run-off from CAFOs -both producing algae blooms that are killing fish and wildlife.  All this at a time when our watershed will be increasingly exposed to the potential of spills from the tar sands crude oil proposed to pass through the watershed via rail, ship and pipeline.  With fracking and other dangers, the list is endless. To stop monitoring water quality amounts to NY State shirking it responsibility.  Sticking its head in the sand.  It will lead to exposing our environment and populace to dangerous hazards. It would be a disgrace. – Steve Taylor

And perhaps our favorite:

Have you lost your mind?  We need a more robust water testing and assessment of our New York State water ways not a lesser one!!Beatrice Schermerhorn

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Save The Date! 25th Annual Winter Environmental Conference is Saturday, February 8, 2014

October 31st, 2013 | Posted by Kate

Save The River’s 25th annual Winter Environmental Conference will be held Saturday, February 8th at the Clayton Opera House. This annual event brings together policymakers, scientists and citizens to discuss the most important issues facing the St. Lawrence River.  Stay tuned for more details!

Winter Conference banner

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Volunteers Needed to Help with Tern Grid Installation, Thursday, April 12th

April 2nd, 2012 | Posted by Kate

Save The River and the Thousand Islands Land Trust are looking for volunteers to help with our annual Common Tern exclusion grid installation on Thursday, April 12th at 9:00 am. Volunteers will meet at the Land Trust office in Clayton at 8:45 am to gather equipment and catch the boat to the project location.

Since 2003, Save The River and TILT have teamed up to install an exclusion grid on both the Eagle Wing Shoal and Tidd Island. The grid helps protect these New York State threatened species from harassment and predation from other water birds such as gulls. The grid also helps to preserve nesting habitat for this species that is constantly competing for nesting space amongst gulls and Double-Crested Cormorants.

This annual effort, along with careful monitoring of nesting birds by Save The River’s volunteers, is all part of Save The River and TILT’s joint Common Tern Monitoring Program. The program originated in the late nineties and works to monitor nesting Common Terns annually to assess the population. Additionally, volunteers participate in habitat restoration initiatives such as grid installation, placing nest boxes and chick shelters on nesting sites and adding gravel to areas to make suitable and safe nesting habitat for terns. All of these efforts have helped to increase tern populations on the St. Lawrence River.

To read more about Save The River’s Common Tern Monitoring Program visit our Terns page.

Help us help terns! To RSVP to help with the grid installation call the Save The River office, 315-686-2010 or email the Save The River Program Manager, Kate Breheny at kate@savetheriver.org.

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Winter Conference Presentations available on Vimeo

April 13th, 2011 | Posted by admin

Many of the presentations from Save The River’s Winter Environmental Weekend Conference are available via Save The River’s Vimeo channel. Or, select a specific presentation from the list below.

“Save The River’s Evolving Education Program: Teaching River Appreciation Inside the Classroom & Out” (22nd Annual Winter Enviro from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

“River of the Iroquois” (22nd Annual Winter Environmental Conference, 2/5/11) from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

Wind Turbine Impacts on Birds & Bats: Sorting Out the Truth and Moving Forward (22nd Annual Winter Environmental Conference 2/5/ from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

“Preventing Invasive Species: Updates on Policy and Regulatory Improvements and How You Can Help” (22nd Annual Winter Environmen from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

“Restoring Common Terns To New York’s Great Lakes and Rivers” (22nd Annual Winter Environmental Conference, 2/5/11) from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

Remarks by Judy Drabicki, NY Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Director (Region 6) (22nd Annual Winter Environme from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

Water Levels and the FDR Hydropower Settlement: An Attempt to Right an Historic Wrong (22nd Annual Winter Environmental Conferen from Jennifer Caddick on Vimeo.

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