© Stevie Adams

Broad-Based Coalition Calls On The Federal Government To Act On Plan 2014

 Diverse Coalition Supports Plan 2014, A Modern Lake Management Plan to Restore the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario and Revitalize Shoreline Communities 

(Clayton, NY) – 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.

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:

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.”

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 Philip N. 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 commonsense 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.”

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. 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.”

 For more information about Plan 2014, please visit: www.supportplan2014.org