A coalition of environmental groups is urging the federal government to approve a new plan for regulating Lake Ontario's water levels.
On Monday, the coalition, which includes the Nature Conservancy of Central and Western New York and Citizens Campaign for the Environment, held a press conference to show community support for Plan 2014. The plan would help restore coastal wetlands damaged under the existing levels management plan, which has been in place for 50 years, says the coalition.
Speakers included representatives from conservation groups as well as two lake shore property owners: Tom Riley and Robert Hurlbut. Riley and Hurlbut are both well-known business executives, though Riley is retired. Hurlbut is also a Monroe County Water Authority board member and a former Monroe County Industrial Development Agency board member.
Hurlbut and Riley both pushed back on opponents’ claims that the plan will exacerbate erosion and property damage for which they won’t be compensated. Those problems already exist and when property owners made the decision to live along the lake, they also made a decision to live with the erosion, they said.
"If we want to engage in a war with Mother Nature, we're going to lose it," Riley said.
Seneca Park Zoo Society Executive Director Pamela Reed Sanchez also spoke in favor of the plan. A healthy lake is vital for the zoo's efforts to restore important fish species, including lake sturgeon and lake cisco (also known as lake herring), she said.
The US Department of State must sign off on Plan 2014 in order for it to be implemented. The agency received the proposal earlier this year from the International Joint Commission, a US-Canadian organization that handles matters involving water bodies shared between the countries.