Niagara Falls Reporter
Home | Archive / Search
SEP 09- SEP 17, 2014

US Army Corps Reminded of Regulatory Lapses Violations of Federal Law News to Them, IJC

By James Hufnagel

September 09, 2014

Caught in the Act. A bulldozer dams off a section of the Niagara River in the Niagara Falls State Park without the necessary federal permits, a direct violation of the Clean Water Act. The Army Corps of Engineers looked the other way, even after a formal complaint was filed with them.

The International Joint Commission has a Niagara Board of Control - you knew that - and they held an "Open House on the subject of matters affecting flows and levels in the Niagara River" last Wednesday at the Brydges Library on Main Street, Niagara Falls.

Lake Ontario shoreline residents and businesses of northern Niagara County have been painfully aware of the existence of the International Joint Commission (IJC) for several years, due to its ongoing efforts on behalf of Governor Andrew Cuomo to raise Lake Ontario water levels, which will result in millions of dollars' worth of additional hydropower generation at the St. Lawrence/NYPA plant at the expense of local boating, fishing and tourism industries as well as greatly accelerating shore erosion damage.

The Niagara Board of Control, however, solely concerns itself with Niagara River issues, therefore the Open House was focused on the river and the four Great Lakes that feed it, and did not draw the hundreds of irate citizens who routinely turn out for IJC meetings when the topic is Cuomo's controversial plan to raise Lake Ontario levels.

In fact, the letters IJC, in the eyes of many local residents, have become synonymous with protest and discord. Not so Wednesday night at the library, where the sparse crowd numbered about 30 (half of which were IJC commissioners and administrators, and government officials including three from the US Army Corps of Engineers based in Buffalo), since the announced agenda concerning boundary waters' health and status conveniently stopped at the mouth of the Niagara River at Youngstown.

A lengthy segment of the Powerpoint portion of the hearing was on the recession of the Horseshoe Falls, including a detailed discussion, with illustrative graphics, of how far the falls has chewed its way back through the upper rapids towards Lake Erie over the past two centuries. In fact, the highlight of the evening was the time-lapse photos of three separate chunks of Horseshoe Falls ledge breaking off the top and falling into the maelstrom below.

Since Lake Ontario levels were seemingly off the table with respect to appropriate issues to address with the Board this particular evening, and the focus of the open house was the stewardship of the Niagara River, and there were three reps from the Buffalo Army Corps present, I took advantage of the opportunity to raise the following concern during the public comment session on behalf of the Reporter and our readers:

"Last year the Office of New York State Parks and their contractor, Scott Lawn Yard of Sanborn, NY, constructed an earthen dam blocking off a section of the Niagara River between Goat Island and Three Sisters Islands at Niagara Falls State Park, without bothering to obtain the necessary federal permits. This was to provide access for heavy construction equipment to cross over and level the islands. We registered an official complaint to the Army Corps of Engineers in Buffalo. They did nothing, even though this was a blatant violation of the Clean Water Act."

Back on Feb. 19, 2013 ("State Parks Avoids Impact Study On Landscape Improvement Plan") we broke the story of the illegal construction, with photos. Over a month later, on March 24 (after escalating our inquiries to Washington, DC) we got an email response from an Army Corps investigator, which read, "... a permit from the Corps of Engineers would be necessary for the work being done, and an application for such a permit should have been made; our records do not show that an application was submitted for this project. There is a simple permit available for construction access work, and we would like to inspect the project... I will provide you with the details of our investigation."

A subsequent attempt to contact that investigator was rebuffed, with instructions to contact the public relations division of the Army Corps if we desired additional information. The Three Sisters Islands project was completed, and everybody moved on.

Last summer during a porch party, a second-generation construction executive who has built multimillion dollar projects all over Western New York told this writer that he and his dad nearly went to prison for doing something very similar to what State Parks and Scott perpetrated at Three Sisters.

When the local Army Corps office realized it was a fellow government bureaucracy they were being asked to "go after", it was reminiscent of Sgt. Schultz, who babyboomers will remember from the '60's sitcom "Hogan's Heroes". When Schultz was conflicted, having been placed in a compromising situation by the scheming Hogan, he would stiffen his spine, look straight ahead and protest, "I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!"

Buffalo District Army Corps Chief of Water Management Mr. Paul Yu approached when the meeting ended and asked for more information. At first he thought the traffic bridges that span the mainland to Goat Island were at issue. He claimed he knew nothing about complaints or investigations, since he was not associated with the regulatory division. I informed him that the Reporter extensively publicized the federal violations. He told me he only reads the Buffalo News. He took my name and email address and promised to get back to us within a couple of weeks.

With all due respect to Mr. Yu and the Army Corps, we're not holding our breath.





Bid Rigging in Lockport? RFP for Voting Booth Storage Seemed 'Tailor-Made' to Favor Ulrich
Neighbors Angry Over Little River's Ugly Boat
Neighbors: Double Homicide on Oliver Street May be Connected to Three Men, One Woman Leaving Scene
Destino, a Dem, Breaks From Party, Supports SAFE?Act Repeal
Natural Gas Believed to be Cause Of Seventh Street Explosion, Fire
Still Waiting for Walker to File Campaign Reports Illegal Skirting of Election Law Seems to Bother no one
Dyster's Trash Numbers are Trash Slight increase in recycling doesn't offset spike in costs
Elder Exonerated of Child Sex Charges Just as we Thought
What's Behind Push for Tourism Director? Is Tourism Board unhappy with NTCC, or a plan to reward ?
US Army Corps Reminded of Regulatory Lapses Violations of Federal Law News to Them, IJC
Disagreeing With Dyster Makes You Part of the City's Problems
Niagara Falls Needs a Casino Cash-Spending Plan…Yesterday
Lewiston Board Election May See Dems Take Control
Free Food, Music, Live Animals, and More Free Entertainment this Saturday in Ransomville Pigapalooza 10 open to everyone
Used Book Sale at NT Museum More than 70,000 books to be sold at bargain prices
Wizard of Oz Concert: Live music, Live Acting and Movie At Palace Theater in Lockport, Sept 27-28
Primary Care Physician Joins Memorial, accepting new patients
WBFO-FM 88.7 Launches New Bills Talk Sports Segment
Letters to the Editor
Mayor 2015, No Laughing Matter

Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina