© Stevie Adams

In Syracuse, Statewide Coalition Calls on the Federal Government to Act on Plan 2014

“Support Plan 2014″ Coalition Demonstrates Broad Support for Modern Lake Management Plan 

Plan 2014 Will Restore Lake Ontario & the St. Lawrence River, Revitalizing Shoreline Communities, and Hunting, Fishing and Tourism Industries

(Syracuse, NY) – The statewide “Support Plan 2014″ coalition today called on the federal government to take advantage of the greatest opportunity of our lifetime to save 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.

Specifically, today’s press conference focused on the incredible benefits Plan 2014 will produce for New York’s sportsmen and tourism industries, which are critical to the state’s economy. In 2011, more than 2 million hunters and anglers spent $4.95 billion on hunting and fishing in New York, more than the revenues for dairy products, the states leading agricultural commodity ($4.95 billion vs. $2.74 billion).

Sarah Fleming, Regional Biologist for Ducks Unlimited, said, “Both Ducks Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited Canada support Plan 2014. This modern approach to regulation of the levels and flows of Lake Ontario does an excellent job of balancing the concerns for wetlands and shoreline rebuilding, 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.”

Charles Parker, President of the New York State Conservation Council, said, “As sportsmen and women, and environmental advocates, it is the consensus opinion of the NYSCC that Plan 2014 offers a working plan to help restore and improve habitat and the environment on and around Lake Ontario and still offers the protective elements that will maintain the present quality and value that the lake landowners now have. It is time to move forward as this plan offers the opportunity of improved habitat which will benefit wildlife and all who value the outdoors.”

David Simmons, President of the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, said, “I believe that Plan 2014 represents a logical step in making the great natural resource that is Lake Ontario and the Saint Lawrence River an even healthier ecosystem than it now is. This plan will restore a more natural variation to water levels, which will help restore healthier plant, fish and wildlife populations to the shoreline, and, as a result of this increased biodiversity, boost the economy of these shoreline communities by increasing recreational opportunities, and increasing production of hydroelectric power.”

Thomas Riley of the Onondaga Audubon Society, said, “After many years of recruiting top class talent for a retail design consulting firm, I know that quality of life really matters to creatives and thought leaders. They have high expectations for their environment. Upstate New York is not going to attract outstanding talent, innovative firms and dynamic enterprises with a degraded environment. The scope of the damage that Plan 2014 seeks to rectify is massive in scale and duration but it is worth doing because it will make a real difference in the future of our region. A vital, healthy and fully functioning Lake Ontario and lakeshore environment is a passport to a better future.”

Ron Urban, Chairman of New York Trout Unlimited, said, “A healthy Lake Ontario equals a productive and diverse fishery, which leads in turn to higher quality fishing, millions of dollars of added value to our economy, and a higher quality of life for everyone.”

Les Monostory, President of the New York Division of the Izaak Walton League of America, said, “Plan 2014 will achieve a return to more natural lake and river water levels that will help restore the health of the shorelines and wetlands along both Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Numerous studies have shown that healthy coastal ecosystems are critical to protecting both property and fish and wildlife populations. The benefits to shoreline property owners and coastal ecosystems will far outweigh additional maintenance costs.”

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.

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