After a slow start, spring is in full bloom on the River. Many of the winter ducks have passed through on their way up into northern Canada, and the local ducks, geese, and other birds have built or are starting to build their nests. The water levels are much lower this spring, due to developing drought throughout much of our region and a very shallow snowpack in the Ottawa River Basin. The forecast for Lake Ontario levels as of April 26 is for a 5” rise from its current level. It is currently 9” below long term average, but 24” above its record low.
As summertime approaches, Save The River (STR) is making plans for opening the store front for limited hours during the summer. Covid protocols will be observed at all times.
Trash Free River (TFR) cleanups– The thorough article on TFR cleanups by Outreach Coordinator, Lindsey Leve, appears elsewhere in this edition. We have at least seven cleanups planned for this year, with lots of opportunities to volunteer. If you would like to volunteer for a fun day helping to clean up the River in a Covid safe manner, please contact us at email@example.com. Our first two 2021 TFR cleanups near Fisher’s Landing and Cape Vincent are in the books and were very successful! A joint STR & Thousand Islands Association (TIA) TFR cleanup on the Canadian side is also being planned for this summer.
STR owes a heartfelt thank you to the Leonard C. and Mildred F. Ferguson Foundation for sponsoring these initial rounds of TFR cleanups!
Common Tern Restoration – The annual common tern restoration and monitoring project continues its long-term relationship with Dr. Lee Harper, TILT,
NYS DEC, the Seaway, and many returning volunteers who make this research project a fun, annual program that benefits these iconic birds that grace the air over the River’s shoreline. I first started tern farming over 22 years ago with our daughter Sara under the guidance of then STR Executive Director Stephanie Weiss and Lee Harper. Since then, we have had the pleasure to work with countless volunteers and project managers to make this project the well-recognized success it has become. Please take a minute to read Jim McGarry’s wonderful article on tern restoration later in this edition.
Save The River’s Education programs – As Covid19 forced STR to reimagine it’s In the Schools and On the Water educational offerings, our extraordinary education committee stepped in to develop many virtual field trips and classroom lessons. The article later in this River Watch by Heather White and Lauren Eggleston will give you the opportunity to experience these very educational offerings, and perhaps share them with your children and grandchildren! Plans are underway to, hopefully, be able to offer some On the Water field trips again next school year.
Additionally, Lauren and other STR volunteers spend a lot of days every year teaching students about the River environment in conjunction with TILT, The Nature Center, ABM, TIAC, local libraries and ZooNY (Watertown).
Shoal Marking – STR’s shoal marking program is now being run by Lindsey Leve, our Outreach Coordinator. Lindsey has grown up on the River, and knows most of the marked locations. New this year is a shared website chart showing the location of STR’s and TIA’s US and Canadian markers. The chart can be found here. Please reach out to Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer for the shoal marking program. It is a fun family project. Many of us have raised our children marking shoals, and now are onto the next generation of shoal marking RiverRats!
Beach Watch – Our summer Beach Watch program, run by a group of dedicated volunteers, will begin its annual run from July 1 through Aug 31. Seven sites will be monitored, with the results published weekly here and in the TI Sun.
Bass Catch & Release – STR’s annual contest for the best photos and captions begins on the opening day of bass season. Please send pictures and captions identifying the little fisherpeople to Outreach@savetheriver.org, and remember to teach the children the importance of catch and release fishing. A grandfather’s word of advice – Make your hooks barbless by pinching the barbs. You will have much fewer swallowed hooks to deal with, and all those little fish will come back to bite again 🙂
As you head to the River to open up for the season, or if you are fortunate enough to live on its shores all year long, please take a few minutes to renew your membership at Save The River www.savetheriver.org. Your support makes it possible for Save The River to continue its mission to restore, preserve & protect the Upper St. Lawrence River now and for generations to come through advocacy, education, and research.
I look forward to seeing you soon on the River,