Posted by Seaway News
Save The River® Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper® (STR) and Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT) hosted a meeting for the Save Blind Bay coalition on June 7, 2023. Members of the Save Blind Bay coalition include Antique Boat Museum, Blue Fish Canada, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, River Institute, The Ship Watcher, Swim Drink Fish, Thousand Islands Association, Thousand Islands Life magazine, Thousand Island Park, Town of Orleans, and Thousand Islands Arts Center.
John Peach, Executive Director of STR and Jake Tibbles, Executive Director of TILT, updated attendees on the status of the coalition’s efforts to have Customs and Border Protection (CBP) locate their proposed new facility to Bonnie Castle Recreation Center as opposed to Blind Bay. John Peach said “Save The River, TILT, members of our coalition and the entire River community support CBP’s mission to protect our nation’s border. However, we are united in our effort to Save Blind Bay, an environmental treasure that has been studied since the mid 1990’s by Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS).”
“While the Blind Bay Coalition is opposed to Customs & Border Protection (CBP) siting the new Border Patrol facility in and around Blind Bay, it understands the important role the agency plays when it comes to homeland security and protecting our nation’s borders,” explained Jake Tibbles, TILT’s Executive Director. “That’s one of the reasons why we continue to offer CBP our assistance with evaluating the Bonnie Castle Recreation Center property as an alternative site.”
Phil Reed, Jefferson County Legislator, expressed his strong support for the Bonnie Castle Recreation Center (BCRC) site. He pointed out that the location of an industrial style facility located in pristine Blind Bay would have a detrimental effect to River residents, as well as the environment. Reed also noted that the BCRC site is located on the corner of Rt 12 and I-81, giving CBP immediate access to the main roads running through their local patrol area.
“This planned eyesore will be directly across the River from Thousand Island Park. We were established here almost 150 years ago because of the area’s natural beauty, and magnificent views – that still remains true. Blind Bay is no place for this compound,” declared Lloyd Withers, General Manager of Thousand Island Park Corporation.
Susan Smith, Editor of ThousandIslandsLife.com, says there have been dozens of articles written over the years all pointing to environmental issues in the region. “This is too important for everyone not to ask why such a mistake could be made so easily by those not directly involved. It is time for us to take a stand.”
Allison Burchell-Robinson, Secretary/Treasurer for the Thousand Island Association, stated “Saving Blind Bay will require determination, dedication, enthusiasm, expertise and motivation; all characteristics that fortunately dominated the presentation.”
The Save Blind Bay coalition remains fully supportive of CBP’s mission to protect the nation’s borders. However, the choice of Bonnie Castle Recreation Center for CBP’s new facility is fully supported by River residents and environmental organizations.