Almost ten years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began spending millions of taxpayer dollars studying proposals to physically expand the St. Lawrence Seaway to allow in much larger ships. Seaway expansion would require dredging hundreds of millions of cubic yards throughout the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, removing portions of islands in narrow reaches of the St. Lawrence River, and replacing numerous locks to accommodate larger ships. This massive re-tooling proposal to enlarge Great Lake and St. Lawrence River shipping channels would destroy miles of fragile habitat, re-suspend polluted sediments and exacerbate the problem of invasive species coming into the Great Lake in ship ballast tanks.
The report – called the Great Lakes Navigation System Review – was met with fierce opposition across the Great Lakes basin. Hundreds of citizens spoke out against the plan at public hearings and submitted comments opposing further study of Seaway expansion. Hundreds of environmental and conservation groups weighed in demanding that expansion be removed as an option for the future of the St. Lawrence Seaway System.
Today – almost ten years later, the Corps has finally, formally removed these expansion options from the report, thereby removing the recommendation to further study the idea of Seaway expansion. This change signals a significant shift in direction, and an opportunity for the region to rally behind a healthy future for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River!
Visit Save The River’s Navigation Study page for more information. You can also read the full Supplement to the Great Lakes Navigation Study on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website.
Fifty years ago, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened amid great fanfare and ringing predictions of economic growth in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region. Unfortunately, these predictions went unfulfilled, while the introduction of invasive species from ocean going vessels to the fresh waters brought disastrous environmental consequences.
The Seaway operates well below its capacity, yet over the past 22 years citizens have had to repeatedly fight back expansion proposals that would seek to allow wider, longer, and deeper vessels to operate on the Great Lakes. Physical expansion would worsen the environmental impacts of the Seaway. Communities around the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River have called on the governments of the United States and Canada to make it clear that expanding the Seaway is no longer an option.
Today, we also know that there are specific and tangible economic benefits linked to a healthy Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. There is currently unprecedented momentum behind policies that will begin to restore the ecology of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region, and it is essential that commercial navigation activities on the Seaway are reformed to make them consistent with these restoration goals.
In the latest iteration of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Study, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has made a significant step forward by formally removing expansion from future planning for commercial navigation on the Lakes and River. This is a significant victory for communities around the region. We need your help to write the Corps and thank them for listening to and acting on community input.
For more information, download Save The River’s background fact sheet on the Great Lakes Navigation System Study.
Write the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and thank them for taking Seaway expansion off the table!
Find contact information and sample language below. Please call us with any questions, and thank you for speaking out for the protection of the St. Lawrence River!
Points to include in your Letter:
• Explain why the St. Lawrence River/Great Lakes is important to you.
• Support the Corps’ removal of Seaway expansion options in the Supplement to the Reconnaissance Study for the Great Lakes Navigation System Review.
• Urge the Corps to focus future study on reducing the existing, historic and future environmental impacts of commercial navigation on the resource.
• Thank the Corps for listening to the public and taking Seaway expansion off the table!
Send your comments by August 31st to the addresses below:
GLNS – Supplemental Recon.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
477 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226
Thank you for speaking out on behalf of the health of the St. Lawrence River!