St. Lawrence River community rejects proposed Customs and Border Protection facility

By Isabella Colello, ABC 50 on March 1, 2022

FISHERS LANDING, N.Y. (WWTI) — In the final days of February, opposition came flooding in regarding a newly proposed Customs and Border Protection facility on the St. Lawrence River.

This facility was proposed to be built in Blind Bay near Fisher’s Landing, which is considered essentially an “untouched” area for wildlife and aquatic ecosystems.

Leading the protest against the facility is local grassroots organization Save The River, which issued a letter in late February, asking members of the public to comment and send their own letters.

Although Blind Bay was frozen when the letter was sent out, it is home to the largest muskellunge nesting grounds on the St. Lawrence River.

“We at Save The River have really taken a stance in opposition to this is because this bay is one of four or five of the most significant muskie spawning grounds,” Save The River Board of Directors President Jeff Garnsey said. “That’s the apex predator for this particular part of the waterway.”

Garnsey noted that the muskie populations have taken a dive in recent decades due to a virus. But Blind Bay has been largely unaffected by development and has been used in a recovery effort to restore these populations.

Aside from the muskie population, 53 additional fish species have also been recorded in the Blind Bay area. This includes northern pike, small and largemouth bass and the endangered pugnose shiner and the American eel.

According to Save The River, CBP’s proposed plan will be intrusive to the ecosystems in Blind Bay, considering that building the facility would require dredging.

“There’ll be some dredging,” Garnsey confirmed. “Now that dredging is not only going to dig up a lot of sediment that’s been buried for years and years, but it’s also going to stop the spawning grounds. And once that’s done, it’s not something that’s just going to recover overnight.”$2 million available for Great Lakes fisheries impacted by COVID-19

A projected construction plan is included below:

Proposed location of a new Customs and Border Protection Facility in Blind Bay

Since Save The River issued its letter in opposition, it has received hundreds of responses in support, including a similar letter released by the Thousand Islands Land Trust. Garnsey also noted that he has still yet to find someone in support of this facility.

The project is only in its planning stage, but Save The River said that now is the time to take action, especially when considering future generations.

“It’s in the planning stages. There’s a long way to go. But you don’t voice your opposition when the first nail has been driven or the first shovel has been dug, now is the time to jump on board,” Garnsey urged.

Both letters in opposition from Save The River and the Thousand Islands Land Trust can be read below.

Save The River: “Opposition to Blind Bay”Download

TILT: USCBP Position LetterDownload

Learn more