CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Opposition is making its way to Albany regarding the proposed Customs and Border Protection Facility in Blind Bay.

On March 15, the local organization Save The River sent a letter to New York State Governor Hochul regarding the proposed facility, which is located in the Town of Orleans on the St. Lawrence River.

The organization has been opposing this facility since late February when an initial letter of opposition was issued to the community.

The original letter stated that the proposed facility would disrupt “critical ecosystems” and called the proposal “ill-conceived.”

Since the original letter was sent out, over 700 additional people have signed or written letters of opposition to Customs and Border Protection. This included the Thousand Islands Land Trust, Town of Orleans, Jefferson County Legislator Philip Reed, Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Mark Walczyk.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has also issued a letter of concern regarding the facility. The DEC claimed that the project “includes disturbance of the bed and banks of the St. Lawrence River and associated wetlands.”

Save The River also sent letters to Senator Charles Schumer, Representatives Chris Jacobs and John Katko. The full letter reads:

Dear Governor Hochul,

Save The River Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper® was recently made aware of an ill conceived plan by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to locate their new facility in the Town of Orleans at one of the most significant remaining spawning habitats of muskellunge on the New York shore of the 1000 Islands. Muskellunge is a species of Greatest Conservation Need, and this population is part of a multi-year restoration effort. The site has important wetlands, is adjacent to a Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT) conservation area, and is currently a residential area.

Save The River has sent two letters of opposition to CBP on this project – copies of which are attached. TILT has sent their own letter of opposition. The Town of Orleans passed a resolution opposing the location of this facility in their township. NYS DEC has sent a letter to CBP outlining their environmental concerns with the project. The Watertown Daily Times has written an editorial and published several letters opposing the project. Both Senator Ritchie and Assemblyman Walczyk have written letters of opposition.

Since sending our letters of opposition, Save The River has had over 700 people copy us on their letters of opposition to the project. TILT and the Thousand Islands Park Corporation have had many of their members and residents send letters of opposition to this project for a multitude of reasons.

Save The River’s 1,400 members and 15,000 followers ask you to use your office and influence to persuade CBP to locate their new facility in a site that is not so environmentally sensitive. There are numerous other sites that would be appropriate and not create the problems associated with the Blind Bay location. 

Thank you in advance for your help on this very important matter.  


John Peach, Executive Director, Save The River

In a previous report, ABC50 spoke with Save The River Board of Directors President Jeff Garnsey spoke more on the opposition to the facility. Watch the interview below: