Calls On Federal Government To Approve Plan 2014 To Protect Upstate Economy & Ecosystem
Joining 15,000 New Yorkers, Lake Ontario Residents, Businesses, Elected Officials and Property Owners Call On Federal Government to Implement Plan 2014 and Restore Natural Fluctuations in Water Levels
(Albany, NY) – A growing New York State coalition of residents, businesses, elected officials and property owners added several high-profile elected officials today as they renewed their call on the federal government to implement Plan 2014. If enacted, this plan will restore 64,000 acres of protective wetlands, boost hydropower production for New Yorkers, create jobs, spur the tourism and sportsman industries, and increase the resilience of hundreds of miles of shoreline in the U.S. and Canada at no cost to taxpayers.
“The Great Lakes represent one of our greatest natural resources providing extensive environmental benefits and economic opportunities,” said Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force. “Plan 2014 builds on existing efforts to restore, protect and enhance Great Lakes water and the communities that surround them.”
Congressman Paul Tonko said, “We have a great opportunity to enhance two vitally important water resources — Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Enacting Plan 2014 will not only protect these ecosystems, it will also improve commercial shipping, expand recreation and tourism, and it will enhance hydropower production as a source of clean energy. I look forward to working with Congressman Higgins and Congresswoman-elect Stefanik to ensure the federal government implements this critical program swiftly and effectively.”
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.”
In a statement, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said, “Plan 2014 helps the City of Rochester by taking steps to restore beaches and shorelines. The occasional low water periods that Plan 2014 brings back to Lake Ontario will lead to healthier and wider beaches at Ontario Beach Park and Durand Eastman Park. As Mayor, it is my job and obligation to look out for the best interests of the people of Rochester. Please add the City of Rochester’s name to the growing and diverse list of municipalities, counties, businesses, organizations, and people who have pledged their support to Plan 2014.”
Outdoor tourism is big business in Upstate New York, with more than 2 million people hunting or fishing here every year, and spending nearly $5 billion annually. Recently, a cost-benefit analysis by the Brookings Institution showed a 2-1 return for the economy on every $1 spent on restoration of the Great Lakes region. Business owners from the outdoor tourism industry depend on a healthy ecosystem to maintain their livelihood. Plan 2014 will not only protect those business interests, but will also result in an annual increase of $9.1 million to New York’s economy through hunting, angling and wildlife viewing.
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.”
Since the 1952 and 1956 Orders of Approval, the unnatural regulation of water levels and flows in the St. Lawrence River have been steadily damaging the ecosystems along the coast of Lake Ontario and upper St. Lawrence River. As a result, the shoreline ecology and economy has suffered drastically over the past 50 years. Plan 2014 reverses much of this damage and allows for both the ecosystem and the economies that depend on their health to once again grow and thrive.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“Restoring the natural flow and fluctuation of water levels is essential to the long term recovery of Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and the birds, fish and other wildlife species these incredible ecosystems support,” said Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York. “Implementing Plan 2014 now will result in unprecedented environmental and economic returns for the state and region, and we urge the federal government to quickly adopt this progressive, science based plan.”
Mark Mortenson, President and CEO of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, said, “The preservation, restoration and stewardship of our regions natural resources is extremely important. The Great Lakes are an integral part of not only our environmental story, but an important economic driver for our region. There are numerous regional examples of how we are trying to correct the policies and initiatives of the part that did not consider the extreme environmental, recreational and social impacts these decisions would have on future generations. Plan 2014 corrects past policy decisions to help improve the economic and environmental vitality of Lake Ontario. Plan 2014 has our whole-hearted support.”
“In order to sustain the health and integrity of our Great Lakes for generations to come, management of one of the world’s most important fresh water systems should be based on the natural fluctuations within the Basin,” said Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. “Plan 2014 provides necessary protection of the system while addressing the needs of commercial navigation, water-based industry, the recreation economy, and hydropower. Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper supports the International Joint Commission’s recommendation of Plan 2014, and encourages the federal and state governments to provide the support and assistance to local communities in order to establish resilient coastlines.”
“Citizens Campaign for the Environment stands with more than 15,000 New Yorkers who have signed our petition or sent letters of support for Plan 2014, because we all understand this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save a Great Lake,” said Brian Smith, Associate Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “After enduring 50 years of regulations that have slowly been killing Lake Ontario, New Yorkers are counting on the federal government to seize this opportunity to restore the health of the lake by adopting Plan 2014.”
The International Join Commission (IJC) – a joint U.S.-Canadian agency – has spent more than a decade developing Plan 2014, and has ensured that shoreline property owners face no significant additional threat from the new water levels. The maximum water level difference for Plan 2014 is only 2 inches higher than current regulation – about the height of a tennis ball. By restoring natural fluctuations in water levels there will be a $25.2 million average annual savings for homeowners along the lake through the prevention of coastal erosion and flooding compared with no water-level regulation.
Plan 2014 is supported by a growing number of key business and environmental groups. More than 15,000 New Yorkers have signed up to support Plan 2014. For more information please visit: http://supportplan2014.org.