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Save The River Announces Interim Executive Director

June 11th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Save The River announced today that John Peach has been appointed to serve as the executive director and Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper in an interim capacity until a new director has been hired. John has resigned from his position on the board of directors to serve in this interim role. The search process for the next executive director has already begun, overseen by a search committee chaired by Diane Leonard, secretary of the board.  

“We are pleased to have John stepping into this leadership role while we search for our next executive director,” said Jeff Garnsey, president of Save The River’s board of directors. “His experience as a long-time board member and active volunteer ensures that we will continue the progress we’ve made during Lee Willbanks’ time as executive director. John will provide continuity for our projects while we focus on finding the right person to join our organization.”

“My passion is that Save The River remains strong in our work to protect the Upper St. Lawrence River through advocacy, education, and research,” said Peach. “Summer is a busy season for us with many of our programs and events taking place in the next few months, including the celebration of our 40th anniversary. I look forward to representing our organization and will be available to our members and communities both at the office and out on the River.”

John joined Save The River’s board in 2000 and has served in several key roles including as president from 2004-2007, on the executive committee, and most recently as treasurer leading the finance committee. He is an active volunteer in Save The River’s Common Tern Monitoring program and shoal marking program and will continue his work in these programs while serving as executive director. Prior to his retirement several years ago, Peach worked as an international business consultant in fields including arts, oceanographic research, environmental, and pharmaceuticals. He and his wife Pat call Huckleberry Island near Ivy Lea home for a significant portion of the year; their children and grandchildren represent the fifth and sixth generations of family living in the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River region.

The complete executive director job description and application instructions are available here.

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Water levels slightly lower than this time last year.

March 28th, 2018 | Posted by Lee

Water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River are currently slightly lower than they were at this time last year.

Last year the Lake and River went on to set record highs in May, June and July due to a succession of unprecedented, intense rainfall events throughout their watersheds. This lead many property owners and politicians to intensely criticize the newly enacted Plan 2014 and the International Joint Commission (IJC) for not doing more to alleviate the problems high water caused.

In contrast, at this time in 2012 the levels were higher, higher even than last year, but as the region experienced an unusually dry spring and summer, levels on the Lake and River went down and stayed lower than average for the rest of the year. This lead many property owners and politicians to intensely criticize the (IJC) for not doing more to alleviate the problems low water caused.

What was missed by the critics in 2017 and 2012 and in every extreme water level year (high or low) since 1958 is the fact that no management plan will give us the tools to fine tune the levels of waterbodies as vast a Great Lake or to control the outcome of natural events – rain, snow, wind – that influence them.

The only constants across the years, other than the criticism of the water levels plan in place at that time, are the variability of the weather and the challenges of accurately predicting it long term. One other notable constant – the reminder that we need to plan carefully how we utilize the shoreline of these vast, dynamic waterbodies.

The editorial board of the Watertown Daily Times​ has a good take on the current management of Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River levels in a Sunday editorial.

The editorial board acknowledges that, while it is still too early to predict where the water level will be this summer, there is no doubt that the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB) in . . “following the recommended practices of Plan 2014 in overseeing outflows this winter . . .have allowed for a more orderly discharge of water in a manner that ensures safety.” The ILOSLRB has done this while achieving the goal of the Plan of “Improving the health of these waterways and creating an environment more suitable to wildlife will benefit all of us.,” as the editorial points out.

On a lake and river so clearly affected by intense and highly variable weather it sounds like they are doing a difficult job well.

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Clean Water Safeguards Eliminated in Must-Pass Budget Bills

March 13th, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Save The River will always stand in opposition to attacks on our nation’s most vital resource: clean water. We joined 115+ groups around the country urging our senators and congresspeople to oppose damaging ideological riders in spending legislation for Fiscal Year 2018:

Outdoor recreation is a way of life in New York, especially here on the St. Lawrence River. We can’t afford to eliminate conservation safeguards that protect our waters & wildlife. The dirty water riders attached to the upcoming federal budget vote will do just that.

The dirty water riders attached to the upcoming budget vote will undermine protections for drinking water that 1 in 3 Americans depend on, eliminate conservation safeguards that protect our waters & wildlife, and cut the public out of the decision making process.

Raise your voices to New York’s congressional leaders: ask them to reject all policy riders attacking safeguards for the St. Lawrence River and all streams, wetlands, lakes, rivers, and other waters that our families, communities, and economy depend on. Call them at (202) 224-3121.

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Director’s Waypoints, Winter Conference Edition

February 20th, 2018 | Posted by Lee Willbanks

Go to this edition of Director’s Waypoints

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Something “Fowl” About Our Winter Environmental Conference

January 23rd, 2018 | Posted by Margaret Hummel

Lee Harper, Ph.D, President of Riveredge Environmental, Inc. and Michael Morgan, NYS DEC Project Manager and Biologist for St. Lawrence Habitat Management Project, will present on the state of St. Lawrence River Fowl at the 29th annual Winter Environmental Conference. 

Harper and Morgan will explore opportunities and challenges restoring and maintaining habitats for bird populations along the St. Lawrence River, and highlight some very successful restoration efforts. Common Terns, Black Terns, grassland birds, waterfowl, and raptors will be discussed.

Harper is a consulting conservation biologist with a special interest in rare, threatened, and endangered birds, fish, and freshwater mussels. For the past 28 years, he has worked with St. Lawrence River waterbirds and other fauna under contract to State, Federal, and Tribal agencies. Lee and his crew have banded almost 40,000 Common Tern chicks over the years to learn about their survivorship, post-fledging dispersal, and migration from the River to Central and South America and back. For many years Harper has guided and advised Save The River’s initiative to restore Common Terns in the 1000 Islands area of the St. Lawrence River.

Morgan has assisted with the conservation of New York’s natural resources while studying for a graduate degree at SUNY Brockport, and subsequently working for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and then Audubon New York. Mike now serves as Project Manager for the DEC’s St. Lawrence Habitat Management Project and also manages Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area near Massena, New York. Morgan has hosted Save The River Riverkeeper Volunteer Trainings at the Wilson Hill offices.

Other presentations at the Conference will focus on Plan 2014 after one year of extreme climate conditions, the environmental improvement efforts being made by shippers, terminals and ports, the condition of the River as habitat, and the general state of fish that depend on the River being healthy. 

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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Thank You!

January 11th, 2018 | Posted by Lee

Watertown Daily Times editorial makes the point. Breaking ice to get ships to locks they can’t get through once they’re there just doesn’t make sense.

   Watertown Daily Times, January 11, 2018

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Seaway Closing Update

January 9th, 2018 | Posted by Lee

from the Seaway:
















We look forward to the opportunity for a discussion of the time and manner of selecting and modifying the opening and closing dates of the Seaway. Particularly in light of increasing variability in weather on the Lake and River.

We appreciate the fact that the challenging and dangerous nature of some incidents requires extreme effort and resources. And it is always our fervent hope that any and all incidents end with no injury and no environmental harm. But as we made clear with respect to the Federal Biscay, we believe the public must get timely updates from official sources about the nature of any incident and the steps being take to bring it to a safe and successful conclusion.

We are glad the 2017 Seaway season can come to a close with the ships cleared, the crews, responders and Seaway personnel safe and the River laying up while we all wait for spring.

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Federal Biscay Now Freed from Snell Lock

January 6th, 2018 | Posted by Lee
Statement from the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation on the Federal Biscay being freed from the Snell Lock earlier today.
Per the Seaway an update will be issued when the five ships awaiting transit downbound have exited the Upper River.
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Another Incident on the Seaway – Updated

January 3rd, 2018 | Posted by Lee

The shipping season is not ending well for the St. Lawrence Seaway. Sudden deep freeze and rapid onset of ice has presented challenges.

The Federal Biscay is stuck in the Snell Lock down bound with several other ships waiting her clearance. Including the recently grounded and re-floated Pacific Huron.

from the Maritime Bulletin


from the Seaway:













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Latest update on the Pacific Huron from the U.S. Coast Guard

December 31st, 2017 | Posted by Lee

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