By Celia Clarke, NCPR on March 18, 2022
A proposal for a new U.S. Customs and Border Protection station in the Thousands Islands section of the St. Lawrence River is drawing criticism.
Green groups and some residents say the 19-acre facility will cause irreparable environmental damage and disrupt the community.
The new border station would be on the mainland at Blind Bay in Fishers Landing. The site is about 10 minutes by boat from Wellesley Island.
In an environmental assessment report, U.S. Customs and Border Protection states it needs a new facility because the current one on Wellesley Island is too small to accommodate an increase in traffic and more staff. The report concludes that the new site would have “long-term, minor impacts on surface water” and no “permanent, negligible impact” on land use during construction.
Lindsey Leve said the agency’s conclusions failed to consider the impact on aquatic wildlife and habitat. Leve works for Save the River and has lived in Fishers Landing
“This bay is definitely part of a protected wetland area and part of that is it’s a natural spawning ground for many fish. And a huge part of that has been muskie,” she said.
Blind Bay is part of a wetlands complex considered an important fish habitat, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation includes muskie (muskellunge) fish on its list of species of greatest conservation need. A restoration project about ten years ago was credited with improving the spawning and habitat for the northern pike.
Leve said the new location will also increase traffic, light, and noise pollution in the area. The complex would include two buildings over 15,000 square feet, more boat slips, and a large parking garage.
NCPR asked CBP for additional information but did not receive a reply.