About Blind Bay

Blind Bay is an environmental treasure and  has open and protected wetland areas. It has served as a long-term aquatic habitat research site monitored by the Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS). Blind Bay has been one of the most prolific muskellunge spawning areas in the region and has been monitored since 1990. St. Lawrence River muskellunge have experienced a significant and recent decline due to losses associated with viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). Maintenance of high-quality spawning and nursery habitat is critical to ensuring population recovery and sustainability.

 

Other important fish species at the site are small and largemouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed, and bullhead; 53 fish species have been recorded at this location. In 2021, seining conducted by TIBS captured young-of-year muskellunge, northern pike, large and smallmouth bass, as well as NYS endangered pugnose shiner. Other NYS Species of Concern and Species of Conservation Need in the Blind Bay record include: American eel; blackchin, blacknose, and bridle shiner; Eastern musk turtle, and map turtle.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is proposing a new facility in Blind Bay

From the Draft Environmental Assessment for this location.

“INTRODUCTION: United States (U.S.) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) that addresses the potential effects, beneficial and adverse, resulting from the proposed construction and operation of a new Border Patrol Station (BPS) in the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) Buffalo Sector, Wellesley Island Station Area of Responsibility (AOR), Orleans, New York. The Wellesley Island BPS is one of six stations in the Buffalo Sector and plays an integral role in support of the USBP border security mission as a primary line of defense between the border with Canada and the interior of the U.S. The Wellesley Island Station AOR encompasses 2,569 square miles, including 256 miles of shoreline and 70 miles of international border. The proposed new BPS would be a permanent facility constructed to accommodate existing staff and allow enforcement flexibility up to 75 agents, enable moderate expansion, and would replace the current BPS. The new BPS and associated supporting infrastructure would be designed for continuous operation in support of the Border Patrol Strategic Plan to gain and maintain effective control of U.S. borders. PROJECT LOCATION: The proposed new Wellesley Island BPS would be constructed in the northwestern portion of the Town of Orleans, Jefferson County, New York. The proposed location is an 18.9-acre parcel of undeveloped land along New York State Route 12 (NY-12) with waterfront access to the St. Lawrence River.”

Click here to view the entire draft environmental assessment for this project.

 

Click here to view TILT’s Position Letter

Click here to view Save The River’s Letter of Opposition

Why are we opposed to this location for the new facility?

Fishery Concerns

Blind Bay has been one of the most prolific muskellunge spawning areas in the region and has been monitored since 1990. St. Lawrence River muskellunge have experienced a significant and recent decline due to losses associated with viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS). Maintenance of high quality spawning and nursery habitat is critical to ensuring population recovery and sustainability. Other important fish species at the site are small and largemouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed, and bullhead; 53 fish species have been recorded at this location

Biodiversity

Riparian vegetation known to protect shorelines in storm events and serve as critical habitat for birds will be cleared. Sensitive birds that use this area will receive frequent disturbance. Bald Eagle, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, and waterfowl species are known to roost and feed in this area. There may be numerous other species impacted including secretive marsh birds. The Thousand Islands and the St. Lawrence River Valley are located in the heart of the Frontenac Arch Wildway, creating an intersection that marks one of the highest levels of biological diversity in North America. Habitat fragmentation, land use changes, and physical barriers, such as high fences, could forever alter the future of this unique landscape.

Water Quality Damage

Instead of flood mitigation and water filtration, there would be increased runoff and detrimental impacts to near-shore water quality. This concern is further compounded by the risks of hazardous soil and water contaminations from on-site fuel storage and parking facilities.

Economic Impacts

The USCBP facility would not only eliminate the proposed site as natural open space, but it would directly impact the ecosystem services and economic benefits provided by TILT’s adjacent preserve. Siting the CBP facility in a marine residential area will have direct impact on the property values of homes along the mainland waterfront and the many nearby islands, including Wellesley Island. The facility will be directly in the line of sight of Thousand Islands Park and will be lit 365 nights per year. The Blind Bay site is zoned Rural Residential. Thousand Islands Park relies on the town’s zoning to protect it from inappropriate development. And the plan conflicts with the Town of Orleans recently completed Comprehensive Plan and Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

Our Coalition 

Send Your Letter!

Send a Letter in Opposition to the proposed US CBP Facility in Blind Bay

Use this form to send a copy of our drafted letter of opposition directly to Mr. Petrilla at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Press Coverage

By Jeff Cole, Channel 7 on February 6, 2024 TOWN OF ORLEANS, New York (WWNY) – Add Governor Hochul to the list of people who don’t want Blind Bay to be developed. It’s a major voice to be speaking out for local people who are......

By Alex Gault, Watertown Daily Times on February 7, 2024 FISHERS LANDING — Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul doesn’t want to see a Customs and Border Protection station built on Blind Bay in the Thousand Islands. Hochul has added her voice to those of local residents,......

Presented by Jake Tibbles, Phil Reed and Rick Gregware. To view the Update on the Ongoing Advocacy of Blind Bay that occurred at Save The River’s 35th Annual Winter Environmental Conference, use this link: https://youtu.be/qZ8s95pXUZo?si=TZP3URvCGJFlgzx3 To view last year’s presentation on Save Blind Bay, use......

By 7 News Staff, November 15, 2023 WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – Legislators with districts along the St. Lawrence River are asking Jefferson County to support a new Customs and Border Protection facility at the former Bonnie Castle Stables instead of Blind Bay. Tuesday night,......

By Isabella Colello, LocalSyr, October 27, 2023 CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — First, Blind Bay. Now, Dockside Cottages. Customs and Border Protection is now considering the parcel, 0309 Route 12 in Clayton, New York for a 48,000-square-foot border patrol facility. This is the current location of......