Lee Willbanks, Save The River Executive Director and Upper St.Lawrence Riverkeeper attended the 10th Annual Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Restoration Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week as a presenter and participant. Mr. Willbanks was part of a panel examining the impact of aquatic invasive species on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River and the pathways by which they have been introduced.
Following his presentation, which focused on the role the Saint Lawrence Seaway played in bringing at least 56 invasive species to the River and Lakes, he was interviewed by Detroit Public Television on the same subject. Also presenting with Mr. Willbanks was Lindsay Chadderton, Aquatic Invasive Species Director, at Lakes.The Nature Conservancy, and Rudi Strickler, PhD, Shaw Distinguished Professor, Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The panel was moderated by Nate Drag, Watershed Project Coordinator in New York, Alliance for the Great Lakes.
For Mr. Willbanks’ interview with Detroit Public Television go to: http://ow.ly/BwUP4
More than 350 Great Lakes advocates attended the conference that has been held annually since 2005. In addition to the panel on invasive species, there were presentations on controlling harmful algal blooms in Western Lake Erie and elsewhere in the region, the implications of increased crude oil shipping on the Great Lakes, how small plastic pollution is threatening the Great Lakes ecosystem and what’s being done to curb the problem, and mapping the value of the Great Lakes to communities around the region to better target restoration investments.
The Great Lakes Coalition, which Save The River has been an active member of for many years, consists of more than 115 environmental, conservation, and outdoor recreation organizations; zoos, aquariums, and museums representing millions of people who share a common goal: restoring and protecting North America’s greatest freshwater resources, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
For more information about the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition go to: www.healthylakes.org
The St. Lawrence River connects the Great Lakes to the rest of the world. It is estimated that since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959 at least 65% of the invasive species introduced to the Great Lakes have come from ocean going ships entering via the River. Save The River and the Great Lakes Coalition both are working to control and prevent the spread of invasive species.
For more information about Save The River go to: www.savetheriver.org
The next Riverkeeper Volunteer Training will be held in the Massena area on Wednesday, September 24th at 6:00pm at the NYSDEC St. Lawrence Habitat Project office located at 1003 County Route 39, Chase Mills, NY 13621.
As the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper, Save The River is the primary voice and advocate for the health of the River and the right to clean water from the River’s beginning in the vicinity of Cape Vincent to the Massena / Cornwall area. To cover an area that large it relies on volunteers to be its eyes and ears on the water.
Riverkeeper volunteers will be trained to assess potential pollution problems and to effectively report these problems to the appropriate agencies. Volunteers will receive training to recognize wildlife die-offs, invasive species and subtle changes in the River that indicate negative and positive impacts to this fragile and already stressed ecosystem. Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn more about the Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area and Save The River.
Since Save The River began its Riverkeeper Monitoring Program in 2008, over 750 volunteers have been trained and now use the skills they have acquired to monitor the River.
Attending this hour-long training session is all that is needed to become a Riverkeeper volunteer. All volunteers will be given Save The River’s Riverkeeper Identification Guide as an on-the-water guidebook and a free t-shirt. This training is free and open to the public.
Since 1978 Save The River has been the leading grassroots advocacy organization working to protect the St. Lawrence River by campaigning to stop aquatic invasive species, fighting winter navigation, and promoting an environmentally friendly water levels plan. Save The River also organizes the water restoration and monitoring programs that track River health and identify pollution problems. Save The River is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance™
Interested volunteers should contact Save The River, 315-686-2010 or e-mail Kate Breheny, Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This summer, Save The River volunteers monitored water quality at six popular swimming areas along the St. Lawrence River for unsafe levels of E.coli. during a nine week period from July to August. Water quality at every beach was good all summer long this year. Water samples were collected and tested at Wilson Bay in Cape Vincent, Frink Dock in Clayton, Potter’s Beach on Grindstone Island, Lake of the Isles near Wellesley Island, Round Island near Clayton, and Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay. Each week, Save The River shared the results in the T.I. Sun and on social media.
Several organizations and volunteers provided key support to the Beach Watch program this summer. Ben Lauraine, a Save The River intern, Jean and Ron Daly, Brandon Hollis, Mary and Tom Mitchell, Maria Purcell, John Slocum, Bill Taddeo and Dick Withington took samples every week and delivered them to the Save The River office. The Thousand Islands Land Trust provided staff support for sampling at Potter’s Beach. Each week, samples were held at T.I. Reality in Clayton before being taken to and analyzed by Converse Laboratories in Watertown, a state certified facility. Without the support of these volunteers and organizations, Save The River would not be able to conduct such an extensive water sampling program which has provided up-to-date water quality information to the river community since 1999.
Test results were compared to New York State Department of Health standards for beach swimming water quality. Water at swimming beaches is deemed unhealthy if there are 235 colony-forming units (CFU’s) or higher of E.coli bacteria per 100 milliliters of sample water. None of the samples taken this summer for the Beach Watch program exceeded this guideline.
Exposure to high levels of E.coli bacteria can cause serious health problems. The elderly and young children are especially susceptible. Symptoms of infection include: chills, fever, diarrhea and cramping. To stay safe, be sure to never swallow swimming water and always wash hands after swimming and before eating.
Scientific studies have also indicated that the presence of Cladophora, a type of green algae that occurs naturally in the River and throughout the Great Lakes region, can harbor unsafe levels of bacteria. Swimmers should always look for the presence of Cladophora algae before swimming at most locations on the River.
Click here to read the 2014 Beach Watch Fact sheet with sampling results. Be sure to check up on your favorite swimming spots once Beach Watch resumes next summer. Results are always available at the Save The River office in Clayton, its website and the smart phone app SwimGuide.
To get involved with Beach Watch 2015, call Save The River at (315) 686-2010 or e-mail email@example.com.
Save The River has published an illustrated children’s book, Haas The Great Blue Heron. It is the tale of a father heron anxiously awaiting the arrival of his chick. This beautifully illustrated book is a wonderful introduction to the Great Blue Heron and its habitat, the St. Lawrence River.
Save The River Volunteer Juliane Flora authored Haas for teachers and students participating in its In the Schools education program that teaches students in area schools about the River’s ecology and need for protection. Each year over 500 K-12 students receive classroom instruction and many of them also get hands-on experience with a field trip to the River.
Haas The Great Blue Heron is currently available at smile.amazon.com.
A limited number of quantities are also available at Save The River’s office. Proceeds from the sale of Haas will directly support Save The River’s In the Schools program.
Publication of Haas The Great Blue Heron was made possible by a grant from the Northern New York Community Foundation Youth Philanthropy Council.
For further information please contact Kate Breheny, Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clayton, NY (August 25, 2014) - Save The River’s Beach Watch Program is in the process of monitoring popular summer swimming locations on the river from July 7th through August 25th . Save The River reports that all beach water samples taken on August 25th passed and the beaches are safe for swimming.
For the 2014 sampling season, Save The River volunteers are collecting water quality samples at six swimming areas along the river: Wilson Beach in Cape Vincent, Potter’s Beach on Grindstone Island, Frink Dock in Clayton, Round Island in Clayton, Lake of the Isles on Wellesley Island, and Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay. Save The River’s unique program provides a snapshot of water quality at popular swimming areas during the peak recreational swimming season. This is the last sampling date for this year.
As in previous years, Save The River is testing for E. coli in all of our swimming spots and will compare water quality results with state and federal regulations. The results will be made available to the public each week with a pass/ fail system that is available at the Save The River office, website, and by following Save The River on Facebook and Twitter. Results will also be posted on www.swimguide.org and in the TI Sun.
For more information please call the Save The River offices at (315)-686-2010. Additional information can also be found at www.savetheriver.org.
Clayton, NY (August 25, 2014) – Save The River held its Annual Membership Meeting August 21. At that meeting John (Jack) H. Butts III became the newest addition to the Save The River Board of Directors. Jack, President and CEO of Rosco Terminal Tackle, Rome, New York, comes from a long line of River Rats; he spent his early childhood on Butts Island near Ivy Lea where he learned his love for the River. He now calls Sunnyside Island home, where he lives with his wife Rita. Jack is active with various other organizations on both sides of the River.
Along with Jack, five current board members returned to the board of directors for another three-year term – Skip Behrhorst, Fred Morey, John Peach, Roger Peinkofer, and Liz Raisbeck.
Save The River also elected officers for the coming year. Bill Grater, Grater Architects and a long time Save The River Board member will continue as Board President. Jeff Garnsey, Classic Island Tours, was elected Vice President. Fred Morey is returning as Treasurer, Clif Schneider Secretary and Lauran Throop as Member-At-Large.
For a list of current Save The River Board member’s click here.
Clayton, NY (August 18, 2014) - Save The River’s Beach Watch Program is in the process of monitoring popular summer swimming locations on the River from July 7th through August 25th Save The River reports all samples passed in Week 7.
For the 2014 sampling season Save The River volunteers are collecting water quality samples at six swimming areas along the River: Wilson Beach in Cape Vincent, Potter’s Beach on Grindstone Island, Frink Dock in Clayton, Round Island in Clayton, Lake of the Isles on Wellesley Island, and Scenic View Park in Alexandria Bay. Save The River’s unique program provides a glimpse of the water quality at popular swimming areas during the peak recreational swimming season. Sampling dates for this year are July 7, July 14, July 21, July 28, August 4, August 11, August 18, and August 25.
As in previous years, Save The River will be testing for e. coli bacteria in all of our swimming locations and will compare water quality results with state and federal regulations. Save The River The results will be made available to the public each week with a pass/ fail system that is available at the Save the River offices, website and by following Save The River on Facebook and Twitter. Results will also be posted on www.swimguide.org and in the T.I. Sun.
For more information please contact the Save The River office at (315)-686-2010 or visit www.savetheriver.org.
[Clayton, New York] The Save The River staff and board honored its cadre of over 500 volunteers on Thursday, August 7th at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Party held at the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority’s Rift Camp.
This year Juliane Flora was honored as Volunteer of the Year. This award is given each year to a volunteer who has consistently gone above and beyond the call of duty in their volunteer efforts. Ms. Flora has been a devoted volunteer for over 20 years who most recently worked with Save The River to author and publish Haas, The Great Blue Heron, a children’s book for teachers and students participating in the Save The River In the Schools education program.
“Publishing a book was a new project for Save The River. At times it seemed the challenge would prove too much, but Juliane went way beyond just providing the story. She, like most of our volunteers, brought her dedication and talents to bear and inspired us all to see it through to the end. The result is magnificent, and a great addition to Save The River’s “storied” history,” stated Lee Willbanks executive director of Save The River.
Ms. Flora is credited with gifting her story to Save The River, where in turn proceeds from future sale of the book will directly support Save The River’s
ability to educate students about the need for River protection. Publication of the book was made possible by a grant from the Northern New York Community Foundation Youth Philanthropy Council.
Mr. Willbanks and Board President Bill Grader pointed out that volunteers who share their time and talents make it possible for the small staff of five to expand their capacity as a strong and effective voice for the protection and restoration of the River.
“The commitment of our volunteers is inspiring to the staff. It shows strong support in the community for the vital work of protecting the St. Lawrence River,” said Willbanks.
Clayton, NY— The Jefferson County Board of Legislators and the Clayton Town Board have unanimously passed resolutions in support of Plan 2014 at their August and July meetings respectively. Plan 2014 is a new approach to water level management in Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River and is an issue of fundamental importance to the economy and quality of life throughout the Great Lakes region. These resolutions come on the heels of a support letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, signed by 41 environmental, sportsmen, higher education and conservation organizations including Save The River.
The support of Jefferson County and the Town of Clayton are especially important because of the recognition of the impact a healthy Lake Ontario, which borders Jefferson County to the west, and St. Lawrence River, bordering the county to the north and on which the Town of Clayton is located, will have on their tourism, recreation-based economies. 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.
“Support for a modern water levels plan has always been strong along the St. Lawrence River. Our citizens, community and business leaders and visitors understand the strong connection between a healthy environment and a healthy economy,” said Lee Willbanks, Save The River’s executive director, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper. “ Jefferson County and the Town of Clayton have made their intentions clear. Plan 2014 must be approved without delay.”
Orleans legislator Phil Reed brought Jefferson County’s resolution to the floor saying, “after 10 years and $20 million, the impacts and benefits including increased hydropower have been thoroughly studied and it’s time for action. Over the last 60 years our habitat has taken a hit, and this will go a long way to fixing not only the fisheries but the tourism economy that relies on them.”
“Tourism is the keystone of the economic survival of the region bordering the St. Lawrence River,” stated Clayton Town Supervisor Justin Taylor, “and a healthy St. Lawrence River is the keystone to a healthy tourism industry. River residents and municipalities must stand together to support this important Plan.”
Other county legislators, including Michael J. Docteur, R-Cape Vincent, and Jeremiah J. Maxon, R-Adams, voiced their support for the plan before the board passed the resolution, noting the positive impacts of the Plan on the Lake and River and thus the region’s economy. Legislator Docteur made it clear the time has come for the Plan to be implemented.
Plan 2014 is intended to restore fish populations, wetland function and wildlife, by allowing more natural fluctuations in water levels while avoiding extreme high and low levels. The plan is the result of a 10-year, $20 million process sponsored by the IJC, which includes representatives from the U.S. and Canada. It will restore the plant and animal diversity of coastal wetlands and increase opportunities for hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, proponents of the plan say.
Plan 2014 represents an innovative approach to water level regulation in Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River, working with nature as a partner, rather than an adversary. The plan was formulated over the course of ten years with the input of more than 180 stakeholder representatives, experts, and scientists from government agencies, academia, NGO’s and industry in New York, Ontario, and Quebec.
To learn more about Plan 2014 click here.
Article published by the Thousand Islands Sun on August 13th, 2014.