Saving the St. Lawrence

It’s time for the State Department to make a bold move to protect and restore the St. Lawrence River through the approval of Plan 2014.

St. Lawrence River | Napaneegal [Flickr CC]

Guest post by Lee Willbanks is a part of our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series spotlighting the St. Lawrence River.

Environmental considerations were not part of the planning process when the Moses-Saunders Hydropower Dam and shipping channel were built along the St. Lawrence River in the 1950s. As a result, outdated dam operations have caused significant losses to the Upper St. Lawrence River’s globally-significant biodiversity and habitat.

Impacts include a loss of wetland habitat and a decline in many fish species and nesting water birds. Black Tern, a state-listed endangered bird species that depends on a diverse marsh habitat, has declined by over 80 percent. Northern Pike, the top fish predator in coastal marshes, has declined by 70 percent. These species are indicators of ecosystem health, and show how far-reaching the dam’s impacts have been to the entire river environment.

Fortunately, a proposed regulation plan under consideration by the U.S. and Canadian governments, Plan 2014 [pdf], is designed to adjust the Moses-Saunders Hydropower Dam’s operations so as to work with nature.

It is time Secretary John Kerry and Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion listen to the over 22,500 expressions of citizen support as well as the 42 environmental, conservation and sportsmen organizations and local and regional businesses advocating for Plan 2014.

In April, American Rivers named the St. Lawrence River one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®, shining a national spotlight on the threat outdated dam operations pose to imperiled fish, wildlife and local communities.

Both Save The River and American Rivers are focusing their collective attention on the only bi-national river to make the 2016 list. With your support, we can remove the St. Lawrence River from American Rivers’ annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.


Lee Willbanks
Lee Willbanks on the St. Lawrence River

Lee Willbanks is the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and Executive Director of Save The River.

Save The River was formed in 1978 to protect and preserve the ecological integrity of the Upper St. Lawrence River through advocacy, education, and research.

4 responses to “Saving the St. Lawrence

  1. I moved here to cornwall from the north and i was so upset when i came to the st. lawrence. there is so much trash everywhere you look. i bring garbage bags with me everywhere i go and i come back with at least 2 chock full bags of trash every time i go out. i spend all day cleaning up an island and the next week i come back and someone has brought more trash out. hunters are the worst, they break bottles and leave their plastic tarps and boats. they bring chainsaws and cut down trees for no good reason. wales island in particular was the worst. i brought out over 12 bags of trash, that doesnt include the plastics which i burnt, and 2 huge steel drums filled with broken glass. on another island, i couldnt believe what i found on the beach, someone had cut a hole in a plastic drum and filled it with rocks and mud half submerged in the beach. it took 2 days to remove it i had to reach into the hole and removed the rocks and then cut it in half with a hacksaw. its tough for me because i only use a canoe for all this, the people who litter likely come out in motor boats. just recently i was walking on the ice and i came across a shelter someone had constructed using blocks of ice. they used a plastic tarp for the roof and then they just left it there, when spring comes the water would just wash that tarp away to who knows where. i spent all last summer cleaning the place but i am sure that the spring flood will bring an entirely new crop of trash, its a never ending supply. when will people ever realise the trouble they are causing with all this plastic trash, its terrible

    love from canada

  2. I would like to correct something…..I was a founding member of Save the River and we were formed
    to protect the full St. Lawrence River not just the upper St. Lawrence River. Do you suppose that action has not been taken on 2014 because the organization now only wants to protect a portion of the River?

  3. Please change this old outdated level control of the St Lawrence so that the fish, wildlife and our children and grandchildren will have something to enjoy as much as we have over the years!!!

    Vote foe Plan 2014

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