Environmental agencies advocate to keep Blind Bay natural as U.S. Customs eyes spot for new home

By Brian Dwyer, Spectrum News March 16, 2023

Waterfront property has become so desirable that there are very few stretches of undeveloped shoreline left.

One of the few remaining undeveloped spots on the St. Lawrence River is Blind Bay, which is now being considered as the new home of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Jefferson County. It’s a potential move that has been met by backlash from local environmental agencies — who say it is important to keep that land natural.

Shannon Walter is the education outreach coordinator for the Thousand Islands Land Trust. She along with other trust employees, supporters and some youngsters are navigating this nature preserve on blind bay building birdhouses as they await the return of a declining population songbirds.

“We’re coming up on spring songbird migration. So, now is the perfect time to be installing these nesting boxes to make sure that when our songbirds do migrate back to this untouched, preserve, that they have a wonderful home,” Walter added.

With each bird house they build, a piece of a much larger puzzle fits into place.

What You Need To Know

Volunteers recently braved the rain to build bird houses on Blind Bay in Jefferson County
Blind Bay is considered by environmental groups to be precious land because it is undeveloped and home to not only a rare fish spawning ground, but a declining in population song birds
The US Customs and Border Protection has looked into using Blind Bay as the host for its new station
CBP continues to say it has not made any final decision on where that station will go

“Just to bring awareness to this important preserve and, you know, get people out on the land connecting with nature,” Walter said.

Because for the land trust, the more people that connect with this preserve could mean more voices that are heard when it comes to protecting it from development.

“There’s a full suite of species that utilize this property. There’s a lot of natural values that we get for properties like this flood mitigation, carbon sequestration, water quality improvement,” 1000 Islands Land Trust Spencer Busler said.

Land that while the land trust does own, has been looked at by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection as it plans to build a brand new station in the area, bringing fears of eminent domain.

“Now that the land trust owns the property, we’re going to be able to work with CBP to help identify compatible sites throughout the St Lawrence River or Thousand Islands that don’t necessarily have the ecological impacts of the site would have,” Busler added.

To that, the CBP continues to say that it has not made any final decisions on where it plans to build the station. In all, the volunteers built and installed a dozen bird houses, three duck boxes and a bat house.

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