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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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With Ship Still Stuck, Silence from the Seaway – Updated

January 5th, 2018 | Posted by Lee

Since Tuesday, the Federal Biscay, a 650+ long bulk carrier, has been stuck in the Snell Lock near Massena, the last U.S. lock on the St. Lawrence River. Up River four more ships wait for it to be cleared.

As they sit surrounded by persistent severe cold, more ice is forming on the River, raising the reasonable question of whether and when the Federal Biscay will be freed, allowing it and the other ships to exit the Upper St. Lawrence. Until then, the Seaway, which was supposed to close December 31st, remains open.

Based on the one statement the Seaway has issued it appears this prolonged delay resulted from the ship being allowed to enter the lock with significant ice present on its hull and in the lock.

In the vacuum created by the Seaway’s silence all we have to go on are tweets and social media posts by followers and watchers of shipping on the River. Other than a reported “No further updates” from the Seaway, the press has had to rely on these “sources” as well.

This, in a word, is unacceptable.

We understand that an incident like this requires an “all hands on deck” approach. But with no official updates on the Seaway’s plans and actions, the public is left to imagine the potential harm that can result from ships with full holds and presumably large quantities of fuel stopped for an indeterminate time in a freezing river? The public is left to wonder what measures are being taken to protect the environment and the health of those nearby and involved in the operation to release the ship? What plans are being made in case it cannot be released until the spring thaw?

Given the Seaway’s legal responsibility as “Captain of the Port” over the River and its enormous moral responsibility to do its part to protect the health of the River as a “shared user”, silence about its actions in response to an incident of this magnitude is a dereliction of its duty to the rest of us who share the River and rely on it remaining healthy and safe. It is reasonable to expect transparency and accountability from a public agency with such tremendous responsibility for and potential impact on our River. It is incumbent on us to demand transparency and accountability when it is not forthcoming.

It may well be that there is nothing to worry about from this incident. Perhaps only environmentally benign measures will be necessary and in a few days all five ships will be on their way.

But then what? We will still be left wondering how the decisions of when to open and close the Seaway are made? How did this incident happen? Why wasn’t the Seaway better prepared to deal with it when it did? How can it be prevented from happening again? Will there be a public inquiry?

We need to hear from the Seaway.

Lee Willbanks, Upper St.Lawrence Riverkeeper

 

Shortly after our original post the Seaway issued this statement:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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It’s Giving Tuesday!

November 28th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

On this Giving Tuesday

Help Kick Off Our 40th Year

of being the Voice for the St. Lawrence River!

and

Help Us Educate the Next Generation of River Stewards!

2014-08-02 Jr Riverkeepers

your gift of $40 or more will allow us to get more students On the Water,

reach a few more Jr. Riverkeepers, and

fight a little longer to restore, preserve and protect

the St. Lawrence River now, . . . and for generations to come.

Thank you so much!

.

 

.

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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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Ontario Senator Bob Runciman, a true “Friend of the River”, leaves the Senate

August 9th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

We note the departure of Senator Bob Runciman from the Canadian Senate and applaud his outstanding service to the St. Lawrence River. He was an early supporter and has been a long term member of Save The River, founding the Canadian chapter. He has been a consistent champion of cross-border initiatives important to the health and sustainable use of the River.

Senator Runciman receives the Friend of the River award February 4, 2017

Earlier this year Save The River was pleased to award Senator Runciman its “Friend of the River” award for his work on major issues facing the River and the communities that depend on it being healthy. He was a vocal and influential proponent of the new water levels plan – Plan 2014 – to restore vital wetland habitat and key species to the River. He has been engaged with local, provincial, state and federal officials on both sides of the River on the issue of prevention and control of invasive species and the lessening of challenges to boaters and anglers in our multinational waters.

We take Senator Runciman at his word that he is not retiring and hope to see him frequently on the River where he has had such a positive impact over the years.

 

Save The River’s Friend of the River™ award is given to individuals or groups who have contributed in an exceptional way to protecting the St. Lawrence River either through advocacy or programs in line with Save The River’s mission and vision.

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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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No Longer “Business as Usual”, Climate Change Changes Thinking

June 1st, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Not our usual allies in the effort to restore, preserve and protect the St. Lawrence River – major U.S. corporations.

But in a year of historic water levels brought on by record breaking rainfall, following years of wild swings in weather, increased intensity of storm events, many overwhelming infrastructure and disrupting the environment and human activity:

WE KNOW WE MUST ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE.

The St. Lawrence River Valley is not immune. The impacts are not occurring somewhere else. And, while our activities may not add much to the global picture, the River we rely on for physical, mental and spiritual sustenance will be impacted.

The Paris Agreement, agreed to by 195 countries, is a, if not the, most important step taken to date to address climate change. As the world’s leading economy, the world’s leading innovator, and the world’s leading consumer of energy and emitter of its by-products the United States must stay engaged in the world-wide effort to address climate change.

We must stay in the Paris Agreement.

If the environmental perspective isn’t persuasive, look at the list of of major corporations supporting the Paris Agreement. Visit the website, “Businesses urge president to remain in Paris Agreement

Join some of America’s largest corporations and call the White House and your Senators and Representative today and tell them we must stay in the Paris Agreement:

White House: (202) 456-1414
U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

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Dismissal of Scientists from EPA Panel Concerning

May 19th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Absolutely spot on. “It’s critical that the EPA continues to use the highest quality research when making policy decisions, and the recent dismissal of these Members of the Board of Scientific Counselors is very concerning,” said Congresswoman Stefanik, in a letter to the EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt she signed with 71 other members of Congress concerning the recent dismissal of several members of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors.

Thanks to Rep. Elise Stefanik​ for speaking out.

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High Water Level Cause? Answer from South Shore

April 29th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

A week ago we posted, “Nature plays the biggest role in water levels in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system,” disputing the unfounded, but frequently made claim that the new water management plan – Plan 2014 – is to blame. Yesterday in a lengthy, well-sourced and comprehensive article the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle agreed.

The entire article, “High water on Lake Ontario: Who’s to blame?” by Steve Orr and Meaghan M. McDermott, is a must read. It puts to bed two questions that have been burning up the press, the airwaves and the inboxes of elected officials (and Save The River) for weeks.

to quote the article:

Who or what is really to blame for the high water?

This spring’s high water is an act of God. It is the consequence of heavy rainfall in March and especially in early April, when the amount of water entering Lake Ontario set a record. Similar high water has afflicted the St. Lawrence River, which carries the flow from Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean.”

“So Plan 2014 is to blame then?

All the experts have disavowed any connection between high water and the regulations.”

and, from a longtime and vocal critic of Plan 2014 (as the article points out) Frank Sciremammano, “Under either the old plan or the new plan, we would be where we are now.”

As Sciremammano says, “it depends on the weather“. Therefore it is incumbent on us to leave Plan 2014 in place, balancing the many shared interests and uses of the Lake and the River, and use our resources, our ingenuity and our collective political will to realistically deal with the situation and to make certain that what we build in the future takes into account the dominant role of Nature and the reality of these dynamic water bodies and shorelines.

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