Today a coalition of environmental organizations that includes Audubon New York, Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), The Nature Conservancy, and Save The River unveiled the strong and growing public support for a modern and innovative water level management plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River region. The coalition delivered its compendium of support to the International Joint Commission (IJC) and Governor Cuomo, to demonstrate the broad-based public support for moving forward with Plan Bv7. IJC Commissioners are scheduled to meet on April 16 and 17 in Washington and the groups are urging the IJC to schedule public hearings.
Much of the new support for Plan Bv7 came from the south shore of Lake Ontario.
The Coalition mailed the compendium of support to the IJC in Washington, D.C., and this morning, Audubon New York and CCE delivered petitions supporting Plan Bv7 to Governor Cuomo’s staff. CCE collected 5,405 signatures and 1,833 letters, predominately from communities along the South shore of Lake Ontario. An updated compendium of support including 9,170 expressions of citizen support – a significant increase from the 1,962 petition signatures and letters of support reported in July of 2012 – was also delivered to elected representatives. This is an increase of 7,280 since July 2012.
“Plan Bv7 is an essential ingredient in the ‘green infrastructure’ of a resilient coastline less vulnerable to a changing climate,” said Jim Howe, The Nature Conservancy’s Central and Western New York Chapter executive director.” The Nature Conservancy looks forward to working with all Lake Ontario stakeholders to find solutions that work for everyone.”
“Support for a modern water levels plan like Bv7 has always been strong along the St. Lawrence River. Our citizens, community and business leaders and visitors understand the strong connection between a healthy environment and a healthy economy,” said Lee Willbanks, Save The River’s executive director, Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper. “We expect this tremendous expression of the whole basin’s support for Bv7 to focus our Governor and the IJC on the need for action on this plan now."
“Citizens Campaign for the Environment’s outreach found overwhelming public support in south shore communities for moving forward with Bv7,” said Brian Smith, Citizens Campaign for the Environment program and communications director. “The public has spoken, and the science is clear. The time for delay is over; CCE strongly urges the IJC and New York State to move forward with a modern plan for Lake Ontario, and finally move beyond the antiquated plan from last century.”
“Most importantly, Plan Bv7 will restore natural cycles of low and high water levels that have shaped the beaches, dunes and wetlands of the Lake and River’s coastline,” said Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York. “Restoring this natural flow and fluctuation of water levels is critical to the long term restoration of the Lake and River ecosystem and the birds and other wildlife that depend on it. This is why Audubon New York strongly supports Plan Bv7, which balances all the interests of the lake and provides significant environmental an economic improvements to the region.”
Citizens of shoreline communities responded enthusiastically to a petition and letter-writing campaign conducted by Citizens Campaign for the Environment. This campaign will continue following today’s delivery of petitions to the IJC and Governor Cuomo.
Expressions of support for Plan Bv7 included:
• 1,000 letters and 3,331 petition signatures from Monroe County
• 316 letters and 885 petition signatures from Onondaga County
• 239 letters and 828 petition signatures from Erie County
• 115 letters and 601 petition signatures from Jefferson County
• 52 letters and 125 petition signatures from Niagara County
• 23 letters and 115 petition signatures from Seneca County
• 76 letters and 127 petition signatures from Wayne County
• 17 letters and 37 petition signatures from Cayuga County
Town counts are available upon request.
Petition and letter figures are cumulative counts based on the work of Audubon New York, CCE, The Nature Conservancy and Save The River.
Plan Bv7 represents an innovative approach to water level regulation in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, working with nature as a partner, rather than an adversary. The plan was formulated over the course of ten years with the input of more than 180 stakeholder representatives, experts, and scientists from government agencies, academia, NGO’s and industry in New York, Ontario, and Quebec.
The compendium of support also includes expressions of support from the Business Council of the State of New York; Alcoa; Anthony G. Collins, President of Clarkson University; Cornelius Murphy, Jr. Ph.D. President of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry; 35 businesses; and, 42 environmental, conservation and sportsmen organizations.
To learn more about Plan Bv7, please visit www.nature.org/bv7
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.