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Great Lakes Article:

From Jennifer Nalbone
Great Lakes United
Posted 09/20/2002

ACTION: Great Lakes Navigation System Review

Dear friend of the Great Lakes,

Please take a moment to review HW 260# regarding the Corps proposal to study physical expansion of the Great Lakes commercial navigation system.

Habitat Watch outlines the concerns with the expansion plan, and a concerted US/Canada effort to stop the GLNS review, including a recent letter sent to Congress and the Corps that was sent by 51 Great Lakes organizations. This letter is attached for your review.

Please also take action, as outlined in HW #260. Call your senators and representatives today and ask: 1) Funding for the Corps feasibility study be eliminated in the FY03 Water and Energy Appropriations. 2) The Water Resources Development Act include provisions for an independent study of the Great Lakes Navigation System review. Your calls and letters are needed now and until session ends in October!

(For folks in NY Representative Jack Quinn's district, let Rep. Quinn know that you support his leadership role in calling for independent review.)

Thank you for your efforts,
Jen Nalbone, GLU

Habitat Watch # 260
Great Lakes United
September 8-September 14, 2002

Binational organizations oppose the Corps Great Lakes Navigation System review
Organizations across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River region sent a letter to the U.S. Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers urging them to “halt this present Great Lakes Navigation System Review.” The 51 organizational signatories said they “stand ready to assist the Corps with projects that restore our wetlands and fisheries, clean up the toxic hot spots and ensure that our waters are safe to drink, swim and fish,” but, “this proposal runs counter to the discussions and planning underway throughout the region to mobilize efforts to restore the Great Lakes.”

Concerns with the Corps plan to “improve” Great Lakes commercial navigation by physically widening and deepening connecting channels, locks and ports include:
·       Exotic species: More, larger ocean-going vessels entering the basin would increase the frequency and diversity of exotic species introduced into the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
·       Dredging: Hundreds of millions of cubic yards of sediments, much of it contaminated, will be dredged during the project. Dredging and disposal of contaminated sediments on this scale is unprecedented. In biologically rich and shallow aquatic ecosystems like Lake St. Clair, the potential for environmental destruction is dramatic.
·       Blasting: Senior St. Lawrence River pilots say islands bordering the current ship channel in the Thousand Islands region would have to be blasted to accommodate larger vessels.
·       Surge waves: Impacts of operating larger ships include larger surge waves that will increase shoreline erosion, property damage and water turbidity, reduce sunlight penetration, and degrade wetlands.
·       Lower/higher levels: Changes to water flows threaten lake levels and shoreline habitat. The alternative is installing compensating works to mitigate changes in water flow-- which would create zones of dead water and threaten fish and other aquatic life.
·       Public: Potential impacts to property owners and resource-dependent communities add overwhelmingly to the economic downsides of the project.
·       Past studies: Previous Great Lakes commercial navigation expansion studies have concluded that expansion is economically unjustifiable.
·       Canadian participation: Thirteen of the fifteen locks on the St. Lawrence River are in Canada, Canadian funds are needed for the study to fully proceed, yet Canada remains uncommitted to the project.

Check out the letter at:

ACTION: Call your Senators and Representatives on the Great Lakes Navigation System review
In the U.S., funding in the fiscal year 2003 Energy and Water Development Appropriations would enable the Corps to begin the first year of the full 6-8 year Great Lakes Navigation Feasibility study. The multi-year feasibility study is based on the options and recommendations outlined in the Corps initial draft “reconnaissance study.”

Returning from recess this month, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee has approved $2-million for the Corps feasibility study in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations. In a Senate subcommittee, $700,000 was marked up for the study. Differences between the House and Senate appropriations will have to be resolved in conference. Although appropriations for the feasibility study slowly proceed, many Great Lakes congressional members are wrestling with whether and how to address the GLNS review controversy this year.

Your input is critical in the next few weeks! Please let your Senators and Representatives know that you want to see:
·       Elimination of funding for the Great Lakes Navigation Feasibility study in the FY03 Energy and Water Development Appropriations.
·       Funds for an independent review inserted into the pending Water Resources Development Act. Ask that a review 1) Perform an independent analysis of the economic justification and environmental impacts of Great Lakes Navigation expansion as proposed in the Corps reconnaissance study, and 2) Independently assess the full range of options for Great Lakes commercial navigationand prioritize particular ways to operate commercial navigation compatibly with Great Lakes ecosystem protection and restoration.

Please call the Congressional switchboard and ask for your Senator and Representative at (202) 224-3121. For a few commercial navigation options compatible with Great Lakes ecosystem protection and restoration, go to: and check out GLU’s letters to the Corps and the Honorable Minister David Collenette.

Great Lakes United’s Habitat and Biodiversity task force produces Habitat Watch with support from the George Gund Foundation and GLU coalition members. The task force is committed to protecting natural areas, wildlife, and strong conservation laws across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem. To join the coalition, subscribe, or send stories, contact GLU at: (716) 886-0142; fax: (716) 886-0303; or email: Past issues of Habitat Watch can be found at:

Jennifer Nalbone
Habitat and Biodiversity Coordinator
Great Lakes United
1300 Elmwood Avenue
Cassety Hall- Buffalo State College
Buffalo, NY 14222

ph: (716) 886-0142  fax:-0303
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