Winter Newsletter 2021

Dear Friends,

Winter is often a time of planning as we await spring and a chance to get back to the River. This year is no different as we look forward to a productive 2021 and hopefully a return to “normalcy”. There is much to do – including improving water quality through streambank restoration and application of agricultural best management practices, engaging our stakeholders with a virtual “Summit”, continuing our work to connect to the River by improving access and hosting small paddles, and facilitating the aquatic education of our children.

Our work is only made possible through our generous supporters. Our Year-End Appeal was very successful. The number of people making donations increased 230% and the total contributions from the drive rose 266% to over $5,000! THANK YOU to all who gave!

As always, we look forward to your comments, feedback and participation in virtual and in-person events throughout the year.


  • Mike Haugh, President of the Board
  • George Thomas, Executive Director

Newest Board Member

Genesee RiverWatch has an active volunteer Board of Directors. We are happy to welcome our newest member, Charlie Bares. Charlie owns and operates Mallards Dairy in Cuba, NY. He has worked closely with Genesee RiverWatch on streambank restoration projects along the Genesee River in Allegany County. Charlie lives in Ellicottville, NY with his wife and two children. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Cornell University.

Streambank Restoration

Our work to improve water quality includes stabilizing and restoring streambanks and application of agricultural best management practices to reduce sediment and phosphorus loads to the river, slow the rate of erosion and subsequent loss of agricultural land and fertile topsoil. These projects also restore and improve wildlife habitat in the river by establishing riparian zones. We currently have several active projects along the Genesee River in Allegany and Livingston Counties.

Edelweiss Farms/Town of Hume Project Report:

The final report for the Edelweiss Farms Streambank Restoration Project near Fillmore, NY in the Town of Hume is now available. The work stabilized 1,980 linear feet of un-buffered agricultural field on the Upper Genesee River, established a riparian zone on the river bank and improved fish and wildlife habitat. We estimate that the restoration stopped the loss of 0.67 acres of fertile agricultural land each year, reduced sediment flowing into the Genesee by 7,300 tons per year and cut the amount of algae-promoting phosphorus entering the river by 4,800 pounds per year.

Chamberlain Farm Project/ Town of Angelica Update:

Genesee RiverWatch partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to stabilize and restore 2,950 linear feet of un-buffered agricultural field along the east bank of the Genesee River south of Belfast in the Town of Angelica, New York at Chamberlain Farm. This project was funded by $523,000 from the Kodak Environmental Response Trust. The project design emphasized the use of bioengineering techniques known as “toe wood” construction, new to the Genesee River. This approach utilizes tree root balls and trunks in an inter-linked structure to stabilize the streambank, reduce erosion and enhance wildlife habitat. Construction to stabilize the streambank was completed in September 2020. The establishment of the riparian zone on the streambank began in the fall of 2020 and will be completed in the spring of 2021. A 15-foot-wide section of the bank above the toe-wood construction will be planted with native wildflowers and grasses to provide an attractive display of color from spring to fall and attract a variety of pollinators and songbirds. Learn more about the Chamberlain Farm Project.

Mallards Dairy #2/Town of Caneadea Project:

Genesee RiverWatch has funding from the Great Lakes Commission ($197K) to stabilize and restore 1800′ of eroding streambank near Houghton, NY in the Town of Caneadea. The owner of Mallards Dairy will contribute $119K of in-kind support to the project. All necessary permits have been received (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, US Army Corp of Engineers and Town of Caneadea). The bioengineering technique known as “toe wood” construction described above will be utilized on this project. Construction will be completed in 2021. Learn more about the Mallards Dairy # 2 Project.

Agricultural Best Management Practices Project/Livingston County

Genesee RiverWatch is working with the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District (LCS&WCD) to identify farm fields in the Jaycox Creek subwatershed that are candidates for application of agricultural best management practices to reduce erosion and soil loss. The primary practices that are considered are terraces, grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs), and underground outlets. The first project implemented involves an 85-acre field east of Geneseo, NY and includes the installation of 5 WASCOBs, 2,400 feet of underground drainage and 1,400 feet of grassed waterways. Construction started in October 2020. Additional projects are being identified for 2021 in partnership with LCS&WCD. Learn more about the Jaycox Creek Project.

7th Genesee River Basin Summit Goes Virtual

Genesee RiverWatch has organized the Genesee River Basin Summits since 2014 as part of our efforts to Inform and Educate both river stakeholders and the public. Due to the pandemic, we are organizing our 7th “Summit” as a series of online workshops to be held in April. The topics will be:

  • Got Access? – Presenters will discuss current improvement plans for car-top boat access to the Genesee River basin followed by questions and answers with a panel.
  • Let’s Plan a Canoe/Kayak Trip – Basin outfitters and stakeholder groups will provide guidance and tips on how to plan your next trip on the river.
  • We Need Trees – A look at the growing need for trees for conservation projects and what can be done to satisfy that need. Additionally, the carbon sequestration implications will be discussed.
  • What’s Going On? – A review of past, present and future water quality improvement projects developed and implemented by Genesee RiverWatch in partnership with various basin stakeholders.

On and Around the River Events in 2021

Genesee RiverWatch has partnered with many organizations to encourage and enable exploration on and around the river. Here is a summary of 2021 events.

Genesee River Blueway Map: Genesee RiverWatch in collaboration with Genesee River Wilds, and the Genesee Valley Conservancy launched the new Genesee River Blueway Map in August last year.  We began to post river signage at access points from Rochester to Pennsylvania in the fall.  This part of the project will be completed in the spring, letting boaters know – from both landside and on the water – the exact locations of access sites and the distances to the next point.

Hiking: While we wait for the weather to warm and the boating and fishing seasons to return, we can still enjoy the Genesee River Basin’s beauty on the many trails that follow the river and the shores of our lakes.  Last year, when the pandemic put an end to large events, we published 9 suggested routes along the river and beside Hemlock and Canadice lakes.  Before the recent snows, we added a new route on the seldom-seen east side of Letchworth State Park.  We will add several more for your enjoyment as the spring season progresses.

2021 Paddling Program: This summer, Genesee RiverWatch will partner with Erie Canal Boat Company and the Genesee Waterways Center to offer public kayak and canoe paddles on the Genesee and the Erie Canal.  Current plans call for kayak events with Erie Canal Boat Company at the Black Creek DEC dock (May 21-23) and the new Petten Street dock (May 28-30).  This year’s canoeing program with the Genesee Waterways Center will see public paddles each month from June through October on either the lower river (Petten Street) or the Erie Canal.  Stay tuned for more details.

Lower River Cruises: Those of you who joined us on one of the lower river cruises on the Harbor Town Belle in the summer of 2019 may remember them as wonderful experience exploring our “wilderness in the City”.  Due to the pandemic, we will not be offering the cruises in 2021. Here’s hoping for 2022.

Learn more about Events On and Around the River in 2021.

Facilitating Aquatic Education – Virtual Field Studies

The Aquatic Education Network gathered educators virtually on December 10, 2020 to discuss strategies that provide students who are learning remotely with field study experiences. Field studies are an important element of watershed education. This year, teachers are faced with the challenge of providing students with meaningful watershed education experiences without being able to pile in a bus and head to the nearest waterway. The December meeting generated numerous ideas to engage students in the essential elements of a field study in remote and hybrid learning environments.

The conversation covered:

  • Identifying the basic elements of a high quality remote field study
  • Safely engaging students in data collection
  • Creatively providing students with materials

Learn more by viewing the Meeting Summary.

Books About the Genesee River

We have compiled a list of books about the Genesee River. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: