Ice Boom Thwarts Nature and Tourism for the Profit of NYPA

By Joe Barrett
It’s been over ten years now since I addressed New York Power Authority executives at their re-licensing hearing seeking the elimination of the ice boom on Lake Erie – Niagara River.
 [Go to YouTube and search “World’s Smartest Fisherman” to see my address.]
If that hearing and all the others before and after amounted to something even remotely fair, the real effects of the ice boom would have been looked at and it would have been removed.  
Here are some benefits we miss out on by having the ice boom.
(for more info google ‘Joe Barrett Ice Boom’)
·         The environment would have been dramatically improved by now. Lake Erie would be able to clean itself out once again, the same way it had for 12,000 years prior to 1964 when the ice boom was first used. It did this cleansing by the gigantic moving ice sheet that formed a conveyor of nutrients and sediments. The shorelines and beaches would have returned by now. Sand would no longer need to be trucked in. The spawning beds would be vibrant with life. The Niagara River would be free from the slimy “moss” that plagues it for so very long each year. The impossibly thick layer of decaying ooze on the bottom would be scoured away.
·         The ugly docks in disrepair would vanish. People would go back to the tried and true “put it in, take it out” method that insures a sturdy, safe dock.
·         Strawberry Island would begin to grow back to its original size.
·          Lake Ontario’s food chain would be fed and the famine would end. Fish would grow huge and plentiful. The fishing in the Thousand Islands would return to its former glory. The rampant cases of botulism and massive dead zones would disappear. Thick, choking green algae outbreaks would end.
·          Western New York would have one of the greatest, longest running, fresh water, springtime natural events in the world.  People would come to see the steady, predictable breaking up of Lake Erie ice and its flow down the Niagara River, over the Falls and out into Lake Ontario. There are 30 miles of vantage points for viewing. It occurs at a time of year when a jacket might be all that is required. People would have a reason to get close to the water. For those who remember it, it was truly an awesome spectacle, one of incredible proportions. There are videos of ice flows in Europe on You Tube. Check them out. Think of a horizontal avalanche. You can hear the icegrinding on the bottom. You can watch giant blocks of ice get pushed upon the shore. It is a sight to behold. Powerful and rejuvenating. When you consider how many people take cruises to Alaska to see icebergs, or to Yellowstone to see a geyser or Capistrano to see the swallows, it easy to imagine how this could become an eco-tourism draw.
·          If the ice flow returned,  all sorts of events might grow out of the bigger natural event and the influx of tourists. Maybe there would be a parade. Hotels would be filled in the shoulder season, restaurants would see more business. I’m quite sure there would be a biker event in there somewhere. Maybe the “Ice Cruise”.  We could ride along the entire Seaway Trail.  We could celebrate and promote this large and beautiful act of nature. It’s not like a cyclone, hurricane, tornado, mudslide, or forest fire. It’s a normal function of nature and it happened right here in W.N.Y.  
The reason it doesn’t happen here anymore is that NYPA makes about 2% more profit by using an ice boom.
They stop nature dead in its tracks. The price of stopping the ice is passed on to us.
It’s going to take pressure on the International Joint Commission  to stop rubber stamping the approval of the use of the ice boom. This pressure will have to come from our citizens. Expect a fight. Nothing good ever happens without one.
ice boom
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