Contact Us
Join or Give

St. Lawrence River Ecosystem

The Upper St. Lawrence River has a wonderfully complex ecosystem and is home to the Thousand Islands region, a globally unique archipelago.

Linking Great Lakes to the Ocean

The St. Lawrence River is one of the largest Rivers in the world, linking the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The Great Lakes hold nearly 20% of the world's freshwater, placing the St. Lawrence River in a unique position. As the only natural outflow to the Great Lakes, the health of the St. Lawrence is forever directly tied to the health of one of the world's greatest freshwater ecosystems.

Thousand Islands

Flowing over ancient glaciated rock, the upper St. Lawrence River has formed a unique island paradise known as the Thousand Islands, consisting of 1,864 islands. The islands provide a variety of habitats supporting all kinds of plants and wildlife.


imageThe St. Lawrence River valley is teeming with wildlife throughout the year.

The River is home to several species of concern including threatened and endangered species such as Blanding's turtle, bald eagles, osprey, black tern, and the Indiana bat.

Numerous north woods mammal species find their home on the shores and islands of the River including muskrat, beaver, flying squirrels, mink, deer, porcupine, and many others. Winter ice cover on the River provides important passage for animals from the shoreline and to/from many of the islands.

Known as one of the great freshwater sport fishing grounds in the northeast, anglers travel from around the country to fish for pike, bass (particularly smallmouth bass), and muskellunge on the River.

The St. Lawrence River Valley is a key part of the Atlantic Migratory Fly-Way - the main pathway for seasonal migration of many bird species. The region has also been listed as an Important Bird Area by Audubon New York.

Bald eagles, which have not been seen in the River valley for many years, are making a comeback and can be seen frequently on the River in the winter. Visit our bald eagle page to learn more.


The St. Lawrence River is home to extensive coastal wetlands which provide filtration for runoff, flood retention, and provide wildlife with food and shelter. Wetlands also act as a nursery for the species of the River including waterfowl, numerous fish species as well as amphibians and reptiles.

For more information about the River's ecosystem visit the following:

Latest News

Push to Protect Waterways from Microplastics Continues
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for the Environmental Protection Agency to add microbeads to their list of Great Lakes contaminants. If added, the EPA would likely address the problem in their upcoming action plan. A move that Save The River is thankful for. read more

Plan 2014 must be enacted
Our communities, economy and the environment experienced a significant win last month. After five hard-fought years and a $20 million study that engaged nearly 200 stakeholder representatives and thousands of citizens, the International Joint Commission took unanimous, historic action to protect the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and the North Country. read more

Restoring the Common Tern in the Islands
Each year Save The River teams up with the Thousand Islands Land Trust, Dr. Lee Harper of St. Lawrence Bird Observatory, and numerous volunteers to monitor Common Tern nesting grounds on the River. Save The River Board member John Peach has written an excellent history of the effort for the July 2014 issue of T.I. Life Magazine. read more

Save The River Reports on Week 2 of Beach Watch Program
Save The River’s Beach Watch Program is in the process of monitoring popular summer swimming locations on the River from July 7th through August 25th. Save The River reports all samples passed in Week 2. read more

Save The River Reports on Week 1 of Beach Watch Program
Clayton, NY (July 7, 2014) - Save The River’s Beach Watch Program is in the process of monitoring popular summer swimming locations on the River from July 7th through August 25th Save The River reports all samples passed in Week 1. For the 2014 sampling season Save The River volunteers are collecting water quality samples at ... read more

The Buffalo News Endorses Plan 2014
"Lakes Erie and Ontario are engines benefiting the economy, recreation and overall quality of life in this area while also providing a reliable source of water." Plan 2014 is the spark needed to restore vital Lake and River environment. read more

IJC Recommends Plan 2014, US Canadian Governments Must Act
We have the data and knowledge we need to restore the Lake and River. Now, we just need the wisdom and will to leave a healthy, vital and thriving River to the generations that follow. The IJC has done their part – now our federal officials must do theirs and implement Plan 2014 immediately read more

Long Awaited Report Released on How to Stop Asian Carp
The much anticipated Army Corps of Engineers' report identifying options to stop the spread of Asian Carp and other aquatic invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River waterways has been released. Now it is time for citizens from around the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin to speak up and demand the most robust solution - physical separation. read more

See our blog for more news!     

Get in Touch

409 Riverside Drive
Clayton, NY 13624
p: (315) 686-2010

River Photos

Off to the races by Pam Quimby  Resting by Pam Quimby  On the Rocks by Nick Apel  Classic Sunset by Barb Hupp  TI Park Library by Meg Kerr  Fall by Carrie Kerr  Girls by Juliane Bauer  Winter Navigation by Sherman Ward 
 Pictures from our Flickr photostream

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy