© Stevie Adams

In Rochester, Lake Ontario Property Owners Join Statewide Coalition Calling for Adoption of Plan 2014

Coalition of Land Owners, Businesses, Elected Officials, Environmental Leaders & More Than 15,000 New Yorkers Support Modern Management Plan for Lake Ontario

Plan 2014 Will Restore Natural Fluctuations In Water Levels, Posing Virtually No Additional Threat to Property Owners While Helping New York’s Tourism, Hunting, and Fishing Industries

 (Rochester, NY) – Lake Ontario shoreline property owners today joined with the statewide “Support Plan 2014″ coalition in calling on the federal government to act swiftly and adopt Plan 2014. Several shoreline property owners spoke at and attended the press conference today, noting that Plan 2014 is the greatest opportunity in a generation to save a Great Lake, adding that no plan can eliminate risk to shoreline property owners. Plan 2014 was developed to put a stop to the environmental and economic damage that has been done for the last 55 years, and restore the 64,000 acres of coastal wetlands, and hundreds of miles of lake and river shorelines in New York’s Lake Ontario watershed at no cost to taxpayers.

“As a lifelong resident of Rochester and a longtime shoreline property owner, I wholeheartedly support Plan 2014 and believe the federal government needs to act immediately to adopt it,” said Robert Hurlbut, lifelong Rochester resident and business owner whose family has owned property on Lake Ontario for more than 70 years. “Shoreline property owners want to protect their property, and part of that responsibility is doing our part to ensure the lake is healthy. Plan 2014 will help achieve that, and help to rebuild some of the natural protections, like wetlands.”

 “Plan 2014 provides long-overdue balance to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River,” said Joe Rulison, shoreline property owner, the former senior vice president and market president of Rochester of Bank of America Corporation, and former Chairman of the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency. “It’s good for our drinking water and good for the environment. But it’s also good for business and tourism, because it extends the recreational boating season, maintains benefits for commercial shipping, generates more hydropower, and boosts hunting and fishing.  As a long-time resident of both Rochester and the Thousand Islands, I encourage the federal government to adopt Plan 2014 as soon as possible.  Every day that goes by results in more damage to our economy and environment.”

 Shoreline property owners face no significant additional threat from the proposed new water management plan. Instead, Plan 2014 simply restores natural fluctuations in the lake that have been lost over the years. The maximum water level difference for Plan 2014 would be just 2 inches higher than current regulation – about the height of a tennis ball.

 “Sportsmen like me – conservationists who care about these wildlife populations and want to pass these traditions on to future generations – we know Plan 2014 would undo the damage that the current plan has inflicted,” said David Wahl, President Lake Plains Waterfowl Association. “By restoring the natural flow of the lake, we’d be able to right many of the wrongs that the current plan has done over 50 years.”

 In addition to shoreline property owners, the Support Plan 2014 coalition boasts significant support from business owners, particular among those in the outdoor tourism industry, including hunting and fishing. More than 2 million people hunt or fish in New York every year, and spend nearly $5 billion annually.

 “Plan 2014 isn’t just about restoring the environment. It’s also about capturing the myriad economic benefits that a healthy lake and river offer us as a society,” said Bruce Johnstone, former chancellor of the State University of New York and former president of State University of New York College at Buffalo. “I commend the IJC for its balanced and forward-thinking approach, and for its efforts to involve stakeholders and the community in developing this plan.  The federal government must embrace this approach, as every day that passes in which we fail to take action threatens permanent damage to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River watershed.”

 “Moving forward to approve and implement Plan 2014 will represent a timely and epic milestone in the modern history of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River,” said John Fitzpatrick, Cornell Lab of Ornithology Director. “The Plan is based on the best available science, and it accommodates both the needs of human residents and those of natural habitats along Lake Ontario’s glorious shorelines. We look forward to the day when the shallow-water marshes restored along eastern Lake Ontario as a result of Plan 2014 will again teem with fish and serve as migratory staging grounds for tens of thousands of birds.”

 “Ducks Unlimited Inc. supports Plan 2014 and encourages the continued advancement and implementation of this plan to regulate Lake Ontario water levels,” said Sarah Fleming, Regional Biologist for Ducks Unlimited. “Plan 2014 does an excellent job of balancing the concerns for wetlands and shoreline rebuilding, while sustaining economic uses such as boating, shipping and energy development, and provides the critical framework for emulating more closely the environmental conditions that make this region so productive for fish, wildlife and people. Plan 2014 provides a science-based, reasonable and logical balance to managing water levels into the future.”

 “Plan 2014 offers us the opportunity to effectively rebuild natural habitats and save animals from extinction, which we believe is a responsibility we all share as a community. Everyday we wait for the federal government to act, the more damage that is done to Lake Ontario,” said Pamela Reed Sanchez, Executive Director of the Seneca Park Zoo Society. “The Seneca Park Zoo has been working, in partnership with others, to reintroduce sturgeon and lake herring, or cisco, to the ecosystem of Lake Ontario. We need to act now, and we are urging the federal government to stop delaying this critical step forward.”

 “Welch Allyn is proud to support Plan 2014 and its balanced approach to restoring the health of a Great Lake,” said Welch Allyn President and CEO, Stephen Meyer. “Long before the green movement became popular, Welch Allyn had been showing its true colors for decades by respecting and preserving the community and environment in which our employees and customers work and live. We’re a medical device company, after all, and while we know our products promote health and improve lives, Welch Allyn also realizes that a healthy environment is a vital part of New York’s economy and our overall well-being. It’s a commitment that was fostered several generations ago by long-time Welch Allyn CEO WG Allyn. His motto, “be always kind and true,” not only applied to how he treated employees and customers, but it extended to his reverence of the world around us as well. Supporting Plan 2014 is a natural extension of the virtues of our nearly 100 year old company.”

 More than 15,000 New Yorkers have signed petitions or sent letters to elected officials in support of Plan 2014. This includes more than 3,200 signatures and letters from Monroe, Wayne and Orleans counties alone.

 “Thousands and thousands of New Yorkers support Plan 2014 because they understand that it is a balanced, thoughtful approach to a critical problem that concerns all of us. That includes more than 3,000 New Yorkers in Monroe and Wayne counties who have signed the Citizens Campaign for Environment petition in support of modernizing the water management of Lake Ontario,” said Brian Smith, Associate Executive Director at Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “More than 15,000 New Yorkers have signed our petition or sent letters of support, because they understand this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save a Great Lake.”

 “My family has owned cottages on the Lake Ontario shoreline in Orleans County for over 50 years”, said Kate Kremer, a Rochester attorney.  “Maintenance of shoreline property under the current lake level plan has been challenging and this will continue under the new plan.  Conditions will not change much for shoreline property owners.  What will change substantially is the health of the lake and those of us living along the shoreline and our families will be prime beneficiaries. I encourage other shoreline property owners who feel connected to the Lake Ontario waters and want to pass on a legacy to their grandchildren to speak out on behalf of the lake and support Plan 2014. In the words of Dr. Seuss’ Lorax, ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’  I urge our government to implement Plan 2014 quickly, and provide the same assistance for shoreline resilience as communities on the Atlantic shoreline are receiving.”

 Shoreline erosion and periodic flooding are already challenges under the current plan – doing nothing is simply not an option. Plan 2014 balances all interests while preventing extreme high and low water levels. It was developed collaboratively with scientists, experts and through local input.

 The International Joint Commission (IJC) – a joint U.S. – Canadian agency – has spent more than a decade developing Plan 2014, which would replace the current outdated and harmful management plan put into place more than 50 years ago. Maintaining the current plan leaves coastal areas more vulnerable to inevitable and powerful storms. Already, natural protection from severe storms has dramatically declined . Meadow marsh ecosystems have been reduced by more than 50%, and populations of fish, birds, and muskrat have drastically decreased, some by more than 70%, enough to warrant placement on the NYS threatened and endangered species list.

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

 ###