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Foster: BV7 is a step in the right direction

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LOUISVILLE - Dalton P. Foster said that while he would prefer to see the International Joint Commission (IJC) adopt B+, the proposal they’re looking at BV7 is better than the plan they have now, one that’s been in place since 1958.

“I think that B+ would be better, but BV7 is better than what is in place,” he said. “It’s a small step forward.”

The IJC is an international governing body in charge of policies that affect international waters along the U.S./Canadian Border, including the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The plan currently being recommended by the IJC is one called BV7.

“It helps restore the environment and follows more of the natural rhythm of nature,” Mr. Foster, who serves as a technical consultant for the International Water Levels Coalition (IWLC), said.

The IWLC is an advocacy group working to protect the interests of those residing along the U.S./Canadian Border from Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence River.

Referring to BV7, Mr. Foster said, “It has quite a bit of variation in it. It’s highs are going to be higher and it’s lows are going to be lower, but that’s what happens naturally.”

According to data presented by the IJC, the current plan, 1958DD would lead to 547 “quarter-months” with low water levels from mid-April to mid-October over the next 101 years. Meanwhile, Mr. Foster said BV7 will lead to 299 such periods, with B+ having low water for 144 “quarter-months.”

Mr. Foster explained quarter-months, a period of time roughly equal to one week, is the preferred time measurement period used by the IJC. The period of time from mid-April to mid-October serves as boating season in the region, making the water levels during that time important.

While Mr. Foster said BV7 is a step in the right direction, he said there have been some things that disappoint him about the plan and the IJC’s handling of it.

“They (IJC) are talking about an adoptive management program,” he said. “The problem is they haven’t described it at all.”

Mr. Foster continued, “We need to know what it is. Just talking about an adoptive management plan doesn’t mean a thing unless we’ve actually got one.”

BV7 was also crafted behind closed doors, despite a proposal, B+ coming as the result of a five-year study that heavily involved members of the public on both sides of the border.

“One of the disappointments is BV7 was developed behind closed doors by government bureaucrats,” he said.

Should BV7 ultimately be adopted, Mr. Foster said he would like to see the IJC review the plan again in 10 years.

“There needs to be a review of this in not any longer than 10 years,” he said. “They need to look at the plan and have the public involved in that process.”

Mr. Foster said 10 years would be an adequate amount of time to collect data and decide “what works and what doesn’t work.”

He noted that while the current plan has been on the books since 1958, it has been reviewed, without modification several times over the years.

St. Lawrence County Legislator Vernon D. “Sam” Burns (D-Ogdensburg) was also in attendance at the hearing to discuss the proposal held in Louisville Tuesday evening.

“This is the third time I’ve heard the presentation on BV7 and every time I pick up more information,” he said.

Despite sitting through the presentation three times, Mr. Burns said he still has several questions.

“I still have questions about how the proposal will affect fishing and recreational boaters,” he said.

Mr. Burns said he is thinking about supporting the proposal, but is hesitant to do so until he hears what area anglers and boaters have to say about the plan.

“I’m leaning toward supporting it, but I want to hear what these groups have to say,” he said.

The meeting held in Louisville Tuesday night was attended by approximately 30 to 35 people, a number that was satisfactory to both Mr. Burns and Mr. Foster.

“We had quite a few people there,” Mr. Foster said.

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