Letter to the Editor:
The Onondaga Nation supports cleanup efforts and environmental achievements throughout our historic territory. But we were confused by the July 25 front-page story, “Cleaner Oswego River makes history.”
One of the Environmental Protection Agency’s stated reasons for de-listing the river was because of supposed improvements to fish populations. If this is the case, then why is the river still considered an impaired waterway by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation? The DEC cites fish consumption advisories as the major reason for keeping the Oswego River on its impaired waterway list.
But at greater issue than the listing or de-listing of one waterway is how these lists are decided on to begin with. The criteria for listing or de-listing waterways should be more transparent and less political.
For instance, Onondaga Creek, Ley Creek and Harbor Brook, in their current state, are what any clear-thinking person would consider “impaired” – you cannot swim in them, fish from them, or at times even have contact with them. Yet you will find none of these streams on DEC’s list of impaired waterways.
The Onondaga Nation wants to facilitate a healing between all people and the land, and marking environmental achievements is part of that. But it is important to make sure the achievements we’re celebrating are real.
Communications Office, Onondaga Nation.