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.
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.
The 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:
- Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve - The Canadian portion of the Thousand Islands region has been designated a United Nations Biosphere Reserve in recognition of the area's globally unique ecosystem.
- The Algonquin to Adirondack Conservation Association - Learn about the critical wildlife corridor that connects Ontario, Canada to the Adirondak mountains via the St. Lawrence River valley.
- Thousand Islands Land Trust - The Thousand Islands Land Trust is a not-for-profit land trust dedicated to the conservation and enhancement of the scenic, recreational, natural and historic character of the Thousand Islands Region.
- Great Lakes Information Network - A wealth of information about all things Great Lakes.
Plan 2014 is the Right Plan for the St. Lawrence River
Unfortunately, even before it was unanimously approved by the International Joint Commission, a few elected officials and self-appointed spokespersons from the south shore of Lake Ontario began using “alternative facts” to block its approval and now its operation. read more
Save The River Submits to Comments to Public Service Commission on Wind Projects
The implications of this study for the likely impacts on migratory birds and bats of the three industrial wind projects currently proposed and proceeding now, all of which are well within 10 miles of Lake Ontario or St. Lawrence River shoreline, must be taken into account by every level of government agency - from local municipal, to state and federal – with permitting or oversight authority. In particular the New York State Departments of Public Service and Environmental Conservation which have shared responsibility, under Article 10, for the permitting and siting of industrial wind projects, must exercise their statutory authority and require the developers of these three projects undertake a joint, credible effort to apply the findings of the Fish and Wildlife Service report to the impacts of their projects on migratory birds and bats. read more
Our River Should NOT Be One of America’s Most Endangered!
You Know You Want To! You Know We Want You To! You Know It's the Right Thing To Do! SO DO IT! read more
St. Lawrence added to Endangered Rivers List. Here’s Why.
With the stroke of a pen, the U.S. and Canadian governments could begin the restoration of wetlands, habitat and key species, by approving Plan 2014 now. read more
Congresswoman Stefanik works to remove Bad Ballast Bill tucked Into Defense Authorization Act
Save The River/Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and conservation groups around the country work to ensure EPA retains authority to clean up ballast water discharges. read more
EPA Accepting Public Comments on Proposal to Ban the Dumping of Sewage from Boats into the St. Lawrence River
“It’s astonishing that in 2016, boaters can dump raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River. Declaring this area of the St. Lawrence a “no discharge zone” would provide cleaner water for people who use this river,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA and New York State looked carefully at the information and agree that the St. Lawrence has enough facilities to remove treated waste from all types of vessels and keep it from entering the river.” read more
Meadow Marsh Wetlands Disappearing on the St. Lawrence River as Governments Delay
And with them, populations of species key to the River ecosystem health - Northern Pike, Black Tern, Least Bittern, King Rail and Muskrat read more
See our blog for more news!