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Protect hunting, fishing Feds need to approve plan to allow Lake Ontario water levels to flow naturally

December 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Lee

We couldn’t agree more.

From Letters to the Editor, December 3, 2014

Hunters, fishermen, and trappers are solid conservationists, supporting policies that are good for wildlife. They also play a significant role in the Upstate economy. Sportsmen and women spent $4.95 billion on hunting and fishing in New York in 2011, generating $623 million in state and local taxes. In total, 2.11 million people hunted or fished in New York in 2011, and those sportsmen and women support more than 56,000 jobs in the state.

Hunting and fishing are also part of our local tradition and as longtime members of local hunting and fishing clubs, and now leaders in the Onondaga and Oswego County federations for outdoor sports enthusiasts, we want to make sure those traditions remain strong.

Sadly, sportsmen and women are facing a growing challenge created by the current plan for managing the water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

The current plan, developed in 1958, has stifled the ebb and flow of water levels, degrading the habitats where sport fish like northern pike and waterfowl live and spawn and reducing their numbers. The pike population alone is down 70 percent.

When fish and waterfowl disappear, opportunities to hunt and fish are lost. Sportsmen and women follow, taking their spending power with them.

If we continue down this path, the future looks bleak – not only for the wildlife of the shoreline, but also for those of us who care so deeply about hunting and fishing and those who rely on it for an income.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to this path of depleted populations and dispersing sportsmen. A water management plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence is currently awaiting approval by Grady Swenson the Federal Government. Plan 2014, as it’s called, would allow the water levels in the lake and the river to fluctuate more naturally, while avoiding extreme highs and lows.

This would revitalize critical habitats and help to grow the populations of fish and waterfowl that draw sportsmen to our region. It would generate an additional $9.1 million in annual economic value from hunting, angling and wildlife viewing.

Plan 2014 is the product of decades of study, public hearings and input from small businesses, community leaders, residents and sportsmen like us.

The federal government has a rare opportunity to rewrite the fate of our waterways and ensure a stronger future for hunting and fishing in New York. By approving Plan 2014 immediately, the federal government could set in motion a chain reaction that puts habitats on a path toward recovery and reinvigorates an economy that relies on sportsmen and women.

We have a rich history of living connected to the natural environment. Along with all the benefits we receive -clean drinking water, food, fresh air, and recreational opportunities, to name a few -comes a great responsibility to protect what we’ve inherited and preserve it for future generations. Rarely does an opportunity come along to make such a significant change that will benefit people and the environment. It’s time to implement Plan 2014.

Charles Parker
President of the New York State Conservation Council
David Simmons
President of the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs

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A Preview of Haas The Great Blue Heron By Juliane B. Flora

November 26th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

Please enjoy this small preview of Haas the Great Blue Heron by Juliane B. Flora.  For additional information please contact Kate Breheny, Program Manager by calling (315) 686-2010 or

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Save The River’s Winter Raffle!

November 25th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

Save The River’s winter raffle is a hand carved, hand painted Wood Duck decoy generously donated by Glenn Sweet. Glenn Sweet is a 3rd generation Alexandria Bay waterfowl carver.  He has been carving for over 40 years and carved his first decoy at the young age of 10.   Glenn has carved this Wood Duck from white cedar and applied acrylic paint to give it vibrant color.  When not out on the River he can be found working in his decoy shop, Thousand Islands Decoy Company in Alexandria Bay.  Thank you Glenn!

2014 Winter Raffle


Click Here to get to a printable entry form. Just fill out all the contact information and return it with your payment to:

Save The River
409 Riverside Drive
Clayton, NY 13624

We will fill out the tickets so you too can be entered to win this exclusive, hand carved, hand painted wood duck decoy and support Save The River.

Drawing to be held on Monday, February 9th, 2015.

Good luck and Thank You for Supporting Save The River!

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Additional Voices from Coalition Call on Federal Government to Act on Plan 2014

November 13th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

More members of the broad coalition of local officials, landowners, environmental groups and small business owners today urged the federal government to take advantage of the greatest opportunity of our lifetime to save the St. Lawrence River and a Great Lake and adopt Plan 2014.


Lee Willbanks, Executive Director of Save The River and Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper, said, “The dire consequences of our current outdated water levels plan are clear. Continuing with the status quo will continue damaging our environment and our environment. The river communities need this. Our economic vitality is directly linked to our environment and both will prosper with the implementation of Plan 2014. We finally have a real chance to leave a healthy, vital and thriving St. Lawrence River to the generations that follow. Decades of data, knowledge and collaboration went into this and I am proud to stand here today to urge our federal officials to take action and pass Plan 2014.”

Senator Joe Griffo said, “I’ve heard from the local small business community and I share their concerns with the current state of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Plan 2014 will allow for natural variations in water flows while controlling extremes. These water levels will be beneficial to our region, especially those businesses who rely on a thriving tourism industry. After decades under the current failing water level management plan, it’s time to bring a modern approach.”

Tony Collins,President of Clarkson University and Co-Chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council said, “The North Country community and the diverse coalition urging U.S. adoption of a modern lake management plan recognize that the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario are among New York State and our nation’s most valuable natural resources. Under Plan 2014, the Great Lakes’ ecosystem will exceptionally serve commerce, recreation and coastal watershed stewardship alike. Plan 2014 represents the way decisions should be made through broad public participation, robust scientific consultation and meaningful alignment of long-term economic and environmental interests.” Collins has also been nominated by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Board of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

Jefferson County Legislator Phil Reed said, “The Jefferson County residents I represent along the St. Lawrence River overwhelming support Plan 2014. After the many conversations with my constituents and studying the options for the future, I’m confident that Plan 2014 is the right path for our area. It is a sound economic and environmentally friendly solution to the problems caused by the current plan. The Federal Government should move swiftly to adopt Plan 2014.”

Jefferson County Legislator Michael J. Docteur said: “As the only county in New York with shoreline on both Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, Jefferson County is in a unique position to comment on Plan 2014. The river and lake are what make our area unique and beautiful, as well as economically viable. So the fact that the last 60 years have seen the loss of 60,000 acres of wetlands and 70% of our native Northern Pike population, makes it all too clear that we must replace the old water levels plan with one that restores the Lake and River. Plan 2014 will help to heal what has declined over the last 60 years and we cannot wait any longer to enact it.

Clayton Mayor Norma Zimmer said, “The current plan is broken. We must take action on Plan 2014. The plan we have now is not just damaging the St. Lawrence River, it’s also taking a toll on properties and small businesses that rely on a healthy river and lake. Plan 2014 will restore the River, improve the boating, and improve the fishing in our waterfront communities. We need the federal government to approve the Plan immediately.”

Clayton Town Supervisor Justin Taylor said, “I’ve seen first-hand the change brought on by the current water level management plan, and I know we can’t continue this way. As a representative of a River Town whose residents and businesses are tied to the St. Lawrence River, I support Plan 2014 because it will bring a healthier River, a healthier tourism industry and healthier overall economy. We have waited too long. I call on the federal government to act swiftly to adopt Plan 2014.”

Alexandria Town Supervisor Dale Hunneyman said, “I support Plan 2014 and call on the Department of State to approve this plan as soon as possible. Our communities depend on the river and lake for our economy. By improving our ecosystems, we will see an increase in waterfowl, fish, and animals. Larger populations of these species would support fishing and hunting in our area—and support businesses who work with these sportsmen.”

Jeff Garnsey, a local Fishing Guide, said, “The St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario are suffering because of a management system that is stifling ecosystems and natural habitats. And when those ecosystems suffer, so do small businesses like mine that depend on healthy hunting, fishing and birding opportunities to draw sportsmen and women to this area. Plan 2014 is a common sense solution decades in the making. It’s time to implement this and help restore the health of the lake and river while helping our local economies.”

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Broad-Based Coalition Calls on the Federal Government to Act on Plan 2014

November 12th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

A broad coalition of local officials, landowners, environmental groups and small business owners today urged the federal government to take advantage of the greatest opportunity of our lifetime to save the St. Lawrence River and a Great Lake and adopt Plan 2014. Plan 2014 is a modern water level management plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River watershed that will work with nature while preventing extreme high and low water levels. It will restore 64,000 acres of wetlands, boost hydropower production and increase the resilience of hundreds of miles of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada. Plan 2014 has broad-based, bipartisan support and is the result of decades of extensive research and outreach that balances the interests of property owners, conservationists, community members, business leaders and sportsmen with the needs of the environment. It was developed collaboratively with scientists, experts, and through local input.PRESS CONFERENCE 2014

The International Joint Commission (IJC) – a joint U.S. – Canada task force – referred the plan to the federal governments in June, calling it “the preferred option for regulating water levels and flows of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River,” and concluding that “…Plan 2014 should be implemented as soon as possible.” It is currently awaiting approval under an inter-agency review in the United States.

Under the current management plan, the water levels of Lake Ontario and the flows of the St. Lawrence River are regulated by the Moses Saunders Dam under a joint U.S. – Canada agreement that is more than 50-years-old. The current plan was developed before modern science gave us a full understanding of the lake’s fragile ecosystem. We now know that the old system of management is slowly killing the lake and river.

Maintaining the status quo leaves coastal areas more vulnerable to powerful storms like Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene, and threatens a variety of industries and one of New York’s most valuable natural resources. These industries rely on a healthy lake and river, clean water and accessible shipping routes.

The following local governments have passed resolutions in support of Plan 2014:

  • Jefferson County
  • St. Lawrence County
  • Town of Clayton
  • Town of Cape Vincent
  • Town of Morristown
  • Town of Potsdam
  • Town of Hammond
  • Town of Alexandria
  • Town of Massena
  • Town of Lisbon
  • Village of Clayton
  • Village of Cape Vincent
  • City of Ogdensburg
  • Town of Gananoque, ON
  • Town of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, ON
  • Town of Front of Yonge, ON

Congressman Bill Owens said, “Plan 2014 is a pragmatic solution for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. It balances the environment and the economy, and is based in hard science. It’s time to implement Plan 2014 and prevent the irreparable damage that will occur if we don’t act.”

Congresswoman-elect Elise Stefanik said, “Throughout my campaign for Congress I was an advocate for Plan 2014 and intend to continue that support as your next Representative in Congress. Congressman Owens has provided key leadership on this issue while in Congress and I intend to follow in his footsteps and urge local and state governments to articulate specific steps to assist shoreline communities and property owners along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The economy of the Great Lakes region and throughout the North Country depends on a healthy and vibrant ecosystem. I believe Plan 2014 will help protect our natural resources throughout our region while addressing the concerns of communities throughout the shoreline. Plan 2014 is a reasonable, balanced solution to the issues confronting the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River basin. I stand ready to work with you to achieve these goals.”

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Binational Local Support for Plan 2014 Continues

November 10th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

Resolutions in support of Plan 2014 have recently been passed by St. Lawrence County, New York, Gananoque, Ontario, and Mallorytown, Ontario.

View the Resolutions

Local governments continue to pass resolutions in support of Plan 2014.


15 River communities from the U.S. and Canada have now gone on record supporting this modern water levels plan.

Communities previously passing resolutions are:

  • Jefferson County
  • Town of Clayton
  • Town of Cape Vincent
  • Town of Morristown
  • Town of Potsdam
  • Town of Hammond
  • Town of Alexandria
  • Town of Massena
  • Town of Lisbon
  • Village of Clayton
  • Village of Cape Vincent
  • City of Ogdensburg.
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Ontario Re-Introduces Invasive Species Legislation

November 7th, 2014 | Posted by Lee

Save The River applauds Ontario for taking action to protect communities from invasive species through prevention, early detection, rapid response and eradication of invasive species in the province.

Yesterday, Ontario re-introduced the proposed Invasive Species Act, 2014 which, if passed, will protect the province’s natural environment from invasive species and the significant social, environmental and economic costs they pose for Ontarians.

The act, if passed, will:

  • Give Ontario the tools to ban activities such as possessing and transporting certain invasive species.
  • Allow the government to intervene earlier and enable rapid response actions, including working with partners to stop an invasive species from spreading — for example by preventing the movement of contaminated firewood.
  • Help promote compliance through inspection and enforcement measures.

Preventing the spread of invasive species supports the government’s economic plan for Ontario.

Quick Facts

  • If passed, the Invasive Species Act would position Ontario as the first and only jurisdiction in Canada to enact standalone invasive species legislation.
  • Globally, invasive species costs to the environment, agriculture and communities, including control costs, are estimated to be $1.4 trillion — the equivalent of five per cent of the global economy and seven times the cost of natural disasters.
  • Do your part by reporting invasive species sightings. Call the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or
  • Download the free EDDMapS app to identify and report invasive species from your smartphone.

“Invasive species pose a significant risk to our natural environment and our economy. This legislation would make Ontario a national leader in invasive species prevention and management. Working with our key partners, our proposed Invasive Species Act will serve as a critical tool in our collective fight against the growing threat of invasive species in Ontario.”

Bill Mauro

Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

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Vote Today!

November 4th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

Vote Graphic


Save The River Seeks Saint Lawrence Seaway Administrator Support for Plan 2014

November 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

Save The River sent a letter urging Saint Lawrence Seaway Administrator Sutton to join her federal peers at U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Environmental Protection Agency and support Plan 2014.

Save The River has been encouraged by Administrator Sutton’s statements about the value she places on the environment.  With the International Joint Commission’s referral of Plan 2014, the time is right to combine words and action.  This one policy change could restore more than sixty thousand acres of wetlands in the Lake and River, without economic harm to the Seaway’s bottom line.

Earlier this summer the International Joint Commission (IJC), which oversees regulation of water levels, referred Plan 2014 to the federal governments in the United States and Canada.

While the Seaway has not issued a position on Plan 2014, its parent agency, the US Department of Transportation voiced opposition to the Plan in a 2013 comment letter. In contrast, Administrator Sutton has spoken out publicly in favor of the environment. In an August 2013 interview with the Watertown Daily Times she stated: “We have a mandate and a mission to keep the Seaway moving safely and efficiently, but we also have a responsibility to do that in an environmentally sound way.”

Administrator Sutton deserves respect. As an elected official she fought hard for environmental policies that balanced commerce and the environment. Save The River wants to work with her to achieve that balance on the River.  An environmentally responsible Seaway can and should support this plan.

Plan 2014 will replace over 50 years of water level management that has significantly altered the environment of the Lake and River and dramatically reduced habitat diversity. Plan 2014 will directly benefit migrating and nesting waterfowl, key wetland habitats, and beaches and dunes, which provide outdoor recreation, flood control, and water filtration services.

Prior to the IJC’s referral, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Environmental Protection Agency wrote letters in support of the plan.

In his letter to Administrator Sutton, Mr. Willbanks explains why the Seaway must go on the record and put the weight of the organization behind its speedy approval. With the letter, Save The River included twelve recently passed municipal resolutions from communities along the St. Lawrence River supporting Plan 2014 and over 15,000 expressions of citizen support for the science-based approach to water level management.
We can no longer claim that we don’t understand the effects of our outdated water levels plan – we have the data and knowledge we need to restore the Lake and River. Now, we just need the wisdom and will to leave a healthy, vital and thriving River to the generations that follow. The IJC has done their part – now our federal officials must do theirs and implement Plan 2014 immediately.

View Save The River’s letter to Administrator Sutton


November 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Lindsey

From the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control
The International St. Lawrence River Board of Control (Board) recently reviewed conditions in the Lake Ontario-St.Lawrence River system and has decided to continue to follow the Plan-prescribed outflows until winter ice conditions require otherwise. Water levels throughout the system are all close to their long-term averages, and well within the limits of the regulation Plan 1958-D. The Board will continue to permit additional under- or over-discharges that may be necessary to address critical conditions, though none are foreseen at this time.

Lake Ontario is currently slightly below its long-term average level for this time of year. The level on October 22 was 74.57 m (244.65 ft), 2 cm (0.8 in) below average. This is well within Lake Ontario’s 1.22 m (4 ft) range, being 80 cm (31.5 in) below the lake’s upper limit, and 42 cm (16.5 in) above the lake’s lower limit. The level at Lake St. Lawrence, just upstream of the Moses-Saunders powerhouse, was about 42 cm (16.5 in) below average. Downstream, the level at Lake St. Louis was 25 cm (9.8 in) above average; at Montreal Harbour, the level was 32 cm (12.6 in) above average.

The Board, in conjunction with its staff, continues to monitor the system. Outflow changes are posted to the ISLRBC Facebook page and its website at under the Maps & Data tab, Lake Ontario outflow changes.

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