Johnson told her colleagues that IJC Plan 2014 would negate the benefits from dredging completed this fall by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging of the Oak Orchard Harbor.
The dredging removed more than 10 years of sediment from a federal channel actively used by boating, sport-fishing and recreation activities. Allowing for higher-highs and lower-lows in lake levels would wash that maintenance away, Johnson said.
“Dredging our harbors cost well over $1 million, and yet the federal government-appointed IJC has put forth a plan that would devastate our harbors,” said Johnson, who cited estimates of $3.5 million in damages to shoreline protection systems. “This is government at its worst.”
The International Joint Commission’s 6 commissioners explained and debated new lake management plan at public hearing in Niagara County Fairgrounds. Excerpt from Daily News Online:
“State Sen. George Maziarz saw little difference between the new plan and the IJC’s 2011 offering, which was scrapped before it could be approved by the American and Canadian governments.
‘‘We think the plan is the same as Bv7, which was rejected by every community on the southern and eastern lake shores,’’ Maziarz said. ‘‘This plan will hurt the southern shore of Lake Ontario.’’
Despite the harsh welcome in Lockport, the plan does have a diverse array of support from environmentalists, conservationists, residents and commercial interests. Bryan Smith, the program director of the Buffalo-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said more than 7,000 residents of lakeshore areas have offered petitions and letters in support of implementation.
‘‘We must take action to restore our most important resource — the Great Lakes,’’ Smith said. ‘‘The time is now.’’
The IJC’s report on the new plan cites reduced impacts on lakeside residents and costs related to flooding and shoreline erosion compared to Plan Bv7 while generating 65,000 acres of improved wetland habitats for birds, fish, turtles and mammals.
A video played at the hearing says the range lake levels will have ‘‘more natural’’ variability under the new plan but less severity.”