Advocates to lobby for the 'rights' of the St. Lawrence River

Mar. 9—Proponents of the "Rights of Nature" movement will stream out to local government meetings to present draft resolutions asking towns and villages to support the rights of the St. Lawrence River.

A local spokeswoman for Rights of Nature said the movement has been recognized in over 25 countries, at least seven tribal nations in the U.S. and Canada and in over 60 cities and counties throughout the United States, and that Potsdam passed a similar resolution in November 2022 to protect the Raquette River.

"When looking at the Rights of Nature timeline and long list of protected places, I can't help but think the St. Lawrence deserves to be among them," said Karen Nader Lago, Clayton "This effort to endorse the rights of the St. Lawrence River is a soft approach aimed, in part, at winning peoples' hearts and minds, and, in part, to educate about the shortcomings of existing environmental laws, leaving them to think about what is at stake."

The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature says the movement "is the recognition that our ecosystems — including trees, oceans, animals, mountains — have rights just as human beings have rights."

This month, a resident of each of the six river towns, from Cape Vincent to Morristown, will present a draft resolution asking their governments to support the rights of the St. Lawrence River.

The schedule:

—6 p.m. Tuesday : Bridget Whalen-Nevin will present at the town of Morristown.

—5 p.m. Wednesday: Nadder Lago at town of Clayton.

—6:30 p.m. March 13: Steve Goobic, town of Hammond.

—7 p.m. Thursday: Pat Sullivan, town of Orleans.

—6 p.m. March 20: TBA (due to illness) at town of Alexandria.

—6:30 p.m. March 21: Tippi Haag-Olson, town of Cape Vincent.

The draft resolution to be presented at Clayton says, in part: "The St. Lawrence River should be recognized as having certain inalienable and legally enforceable rights to exist, regenerate, evolve, adapt and thrive; and that residents of the town should have the legal ability to enforce those rights and bring action in the name of the river as plaintiff and that the town pledges to work towards adopting a local law that recognizes, secures, and provides an avenue for enforcing those rights."

Also, "That the town board pledges to work towards a review of local law for the purpose of recognizing and securing those rights, while providing for ways that the residents of the Town can enforce those rights."