This article is part of Genesee RiverWatch’s 2020 Year-End Appeal series – telling the stories behind our significant accomplishments and plans for the future.
The year of 2020 was difficult and strange in many ways. And yet, we at Genesee RiverWatch, are grateful for many things. Simultaneously, we are looking forward to the work which will require our attention and resolution in 2021 as we focus on the river that we love and that demands our best efforts every day.
Our gratitude spans the natural world and the many people and organizations helping us protect and celebrate the River.
- Gratitude that we live and work on a river of great beauty – with dramatic waterfalls, peaceful forests, and productive fields formed by millennia of glaciation and seasonal weathering.
- Gratitude that, in addition to its beauty, the Genesee offers so many opportunities to learn and teach in the areas of geology, history, political science, biology, ecology, and many other disciplines.
- Gratitude to our predecessors who had the wisdom to put in place laws that reduced pollution, restrained uncontrolled development, and established park lands accessible to all.
- Gratitude to legislators that have seen fit to continue this legacy by funding continuing conservation and civic development efforts.
- Gratitude to our supporters whose donations allow us to translate good intentions into concrete achievements.
- Gratitude to our volunteers who have freely given their time and skill to collect data, prepare publications, produce public events, reach out to landowners, obtain streambank restoration permits, and all the other myriad activities that our growing organization requires to be successful.
- Gratitude to our partners who, by combining the strengths of our organizations, have made possible achievements beyond the reach of any of us acting alone.
- Gratitude to those who participate in our events – the few we were able to hold in 2020 and those held in prior years. Summit and workshop attendees have offered their experience and wisdom in ways that have directly translated into the design of new initiatives, projects, and publications. Paddle and cruise participants have carried away enthusiasm for the Genesee that encourages others to get more involved in the river and our community. Students in our classes have learned from the river and taken away both specific knowledge and a greater appreciation for the natural world.
Our success since launching Genesee RiverWatch in 2014, and our ability to continue this work virtually unabated through 2020, has only increased our enthusiasm and resolve to promote “a healthy and sustainable Genesee River ecosystem that is an environmental, recreational and economic asset for all generations.” Here are the coming year’s plans, organized by our major initiative areas:
- We will continue our initiative of Improving Water Quality through streambank restoration projects. This work reduces the sediment and algae-promoting nutrients flowing downriver while preserving precious farmland and decreasing the need for costly downstream dredging – wins for every member of the river community. For 2021 we have two major projects funded and permitted and another designed and ready for funding. A strategic, multi-year plan for this work will be submitted to the state in the coming year. Other programs to improve the water quality of our river will be announced as 2021 progresses.
- Our annual series of Genesee River Basin Summits is designed to Inform and Educate the public while helping prioritize our own work. We were forced to cancel the 2020 Summit because of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021 we will resume these community programs as either in-person or virtual events, depending on the progress of vaccinations in our region. Our new Genesee River Blueway Map will be continually updated as planned in its interactive design. We expect to update our Genesee River Basin Report Card with new data as it is collected.
- Our efforts to Connect People to the River were severely constrained this year but should be able to resume as 2021 progresses. In the summer we should be able to resume our series of public paddles through the “wilderness in the city” between Lower Falls and the harbor. We have long sought to have a guided paddle event on the river upstream of Letchworth State Park. This may be possible later in the year. We are seeking, and expect to receive, funding to improve two key access sites on the river between Mt. Morris and Rochester. These projects will make boating and fishing access easier and safer for an increasing number of users. A paddle training program for inner city youth was designed in 2020 awaits only virus control and funding for 2021. Finally, we hope to resume our dinner cruises on the Harbor Town Belle in the late summer and fall.
- Last, but by no means least, our work to Facilitate Aquatic Education took a big step forward in 2020 with St. John Fisher College’s NOAA-funded B-WET program to train K-12 teachers and engage students in aquatic education classes centered on the Genesee. The college has applied to continue this program in the 2021-22 school year and approval seems likely. To maintain momentum during the coming summer we will need to raise funding from local supporters interested in educational enrichment programs.
All of this work is only possible through the generosity of our Supporters. We invite you to invest $100, $250 – or an amount of your choosing – in Genesee RiverWatch as a part of your year-end giving plan.