By Isabella Colello, ABC 50 on March 7, 2022
ORLEANS, N.Y. (WWTI) — Opposition is continuing to grow regarding a proposed U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Blind Bay on the St. Lawrence River.
This was detailed in an updated letter of opposition issued by Save The River on Monday, March 7, regarding the end of its public comment.
Since an original letter was issued by Save The River on February 23, hundreds of community members have submitted letters to CBP, which included the Thousand Islands Land Trust on February 28 and Thousand Islands Park on March 3.
The Town of Orleans, where the facility would be located, has also officially passed a formal resolution opposing the location of the CBP facility in Blind Bay.
Save The River also claimed that the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Blind Bay facility to be “deficient in many ways.”
“The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has failed to take a hard look at several extremely significant environmental impacts that can be expected, and thus a Finding of No Significant Impact is in error,” Save The River said in the letter.”
The organization highlighted that the proposed project violates local zoning ordinances, is in a New York State-designated wetlands area and is within direct eye line of Thousand Islands Park, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Save The River reiterated that this facility could pose many environmental consequences, including, light pollution on the river, which could affect nocturnal activities of bats; impacts on wetlands and muskellunge spawning and feeding grounds.
Additionally, the organization highlighted legislation that the facility may violate. This includes affected birds pursuant to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and stormwater control during construction and operation under the Clean Water Act.
The organization urged that if CBP continues with the project, it will need to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement and open the project to complete public review.
Providing an alternative, Save The River suggested using the existing Wellesley Island facility to handle boat storage and river access, or by renting space at the Thousand Islands Club, New York State Trooper docks or sharing with other law enforcement agencies on the River. STR added that inland areas could also house an additional facility.
Save The River concluded its second letter in opposition by stating:
“For all of the reasons listed, including the scientific and public controversy surrounding this flawedJOHN PEACH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SAVE THE RIVER
proposal, the undersigned request that this project be withdrawn in its entirety.“
This second letter in opposition was sent directly to CBP Border Patrol and Air and Marine Environmental Branch Acting Chief John Petrilla on March 7.