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Readers Exchange, April 2008

  Re: "Where Have All the Shorelines Gone?" by Bud Andress

From: Andrew Textor

I'd love to have [you] come take a look at our new place on Douglas Island on the American side of the river.  I used to live on Fairyland where [the] first photo was taken, although on the other end of the Island in the white and green house.  I never really thought about those sea walls because they were just there from the beginning of my experience there.  We have since uprooted and moved to Douglas and built a new family home there.  The contrast between Fairyland and our new home, Douglas Island, is substantial.  Douglas is natural, our house was designed to blend with the island and we have tried to keep the natural "Island Grass" as much as possible.  I have to give my father, George Textor, all the credit here.  I was upset our place was not the same as Fairyland at first.  Naive I was!!

Douglas Island
Photo by Ian Coristine ©
Douglas Island

Douglas is secluded.  It is far from either main shoreline and is surrounded by fairly deep water.  We have no sea walls and have no plans for any.  Getting used to the new place didn't take long.  The wave action can be heard from much of the island and the sheer amount of life compared to Fairyland is striking.  We have at least twp loons who call to each other during the summer nights and we think one lives on the island.  Numerous river snakes, newts and birds live along the untouched shoreline.  We have a yearly family of ducks who call Douglas home as well.  All this flora and fauna are there because we have no sea walls.  Deer and Douglas are secluded enough that they retain some of their originality.  Pitch pines are numerous on Douglas and I have heard they are now rare in the area.  Our goal is to  keep Douglas  as original as possible.  I love picking my way around the exposed rock  on the American side looking for striations in the rock from the glaciers that created that mighty place.  Though experience I can say that keeping the islands natural adds to their appeal.  I hope shore conservation becomes more of a priority in our residents minds than the control of nature.

Thank you for the article.


From Bud Andress:

First, Andrew, thank you for your words--they are so encouraging for the future. Douglas sure sounds like a wonderful place and it is so interesting that you have experiences at both places to compare the two environments. We really have to ask ourselves just what we want out of the Thousand Islands--is it the Thousand Islands?, or something else? Sounds like you've found your little piece of Thousand Islands heaven.

My wife Bev and I have been on the west end of Hill Island for twenty-four years. I inherited a filled-in shoreline from the previous owner which had been mainly loose gravel pit rock (glaciated, rounded, various sizes - few inches in diameter to a foot in diameter, etc.). It was placed all across the waterfront for most of the 290-foot frontage back in the late 1960s. I assume the high water of 1973 caused it to slip outward. I've had to deal with this instability for all these years, which means I've had to place angular granite pieces on a very gradual slope to prevent further slippage outward in storm activity. So here I am, the guy who wrote the article, in a way has an artificial "hardened shoreline"! The major difference is of course, the angle (no abrupt right angle wall). I've encourage shoreline vegetation and transplanted many native trees to stabilize the waterfront. Fortunately the two ends of the 290-foot waterfront escaped major manipulation so that there is some originality boxing things in. I have all the wildlife viewing you described at

Douglas. We absolutely love it, water snakes and all.

Milkweed (mind you, not always a desired property resident plant) has taken to all the crevices of the laid broken rock and now we have the most amazing "butterfly garden", as my wife and I like to call it. Numerous species visit, including of course the Monarch. It just shows that one can reverse the process near the littoral zone. I took over a very manipulated shore that was unstable. I created stability without that dreaded right angle that deters the interaction of so much life. I wish more would consider reversing some of the past construction deeds when and where it can be done successfully and makes sense to do so.

For the record, I'm the Senior Park Warden at St. Lawrence Islands National Park, but a "naturalist" at heart and not in job function (perhaps that is what you meant). Many thanks for the opportunity to write the article that has brewed in me for some time. I thought the content and layout of the March issue was particularly exceptional. Well done. I received very positive remarks from friends over the weekend after drawing their attention to the article. Some seeing the magazine for the first time were amazed and will be regular site visitors to Thousand Islands Life.


From Andrew Textor:

Thanks for the responses!  I was not expecting your kind words.  The new online magazine is fantastic and it is a great way to keep the river close while learning a bit along the way.  Bud, I sent this to my father and I think he was impressed with your article as well.  I have always known he was a naturalist at heart and your views on the river are in congruence with his own.  If anything we may take an even more hands off tack with Douglas in the future.  We have a lot of dead standing trees that my dad wants to leave up for the wood peckers and other critters.  We have seen how important the trees are for the avian populations, and safety permitting, we plan on leaving them for the benefit of the wildlife.

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