Save the River’s 35th Winter Environmental Conference sparks discussions on several topics effecting the St. Lawrence River

By Chad Charette, WWNY, January 27, 2023

CLAYTON, New York (WWNY) – “Unfortunately for us, there are many threats affecting the Great Lakes.”

Water pollution: It was just one of many topics discussed at Save the River’s 35th annual Winter Environmental Conference.

“I think conferences like this are important because it gets everybody in the same room and they can all have discussions about topics either they’re familiar with or things they’ve never heard of before,” said Lauren Eggleston, Assistant Director of Save the River.

More than 100 environmentalists turned up for the event at the Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel and discussed things like contaminants, slaughterhouses, and eels, a favorite of Executive Director John Peach.

“I’ve always had a love affair with these eels. When I was a kid growing up they were all over the river. All of the sudden, they disappeared now they’re coming back but just listening they’re under a lot of pressure,” said Peach.

Another focus is Blind Bay. Customs and Border Protection has its sights set on the area and plans to construct a new facility there. The move has faced pushback from concerned environmentalists like Thousand Islands Land Trust Executive Director Jake Tibbles.

“We need to have an alternative that is both suitable for the mission of Customs and Border Protection, but at the same time does not present the environmental impacts and threats that citing such a facility in Blind Bay would have,” said Tibbles.

That’s spawned a slogan “Say no to Blind Bay. Say yes to Bonnie Castle”. Many believe the old Bonnie Castle Recreation Center would make for a more eco-conscious alternative.

“So for me, that’s a win-win for the environment, for CBP, and the river,” said Peach.

But will CBP Choose the alternative? Tibbles isn’t sure.

“That’s the million-dollar question. It depends on the day,” said Tibbles.

John Peach on the other hand says he’s very optimistic. That’s because the efforts to protect Blind Bay have seen support from officials all over the political spectrum.

“We’ve got great support now from the Governor coming. We’ve got excellent support from Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Tenney,” said Peach.

Those looking to learn more about what was discussed can do so on Save the River’s website.

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