Fall Newsletter 2021

Dear Friends,

We are rapidly approaching the end of the year and are enormously grateful for the involvement and support of our partners, volunteers, event participants and donors. As you read this newsletter, you will learn about the impact of each of these groups during the second half of 2021.  You will see our partners working to preserve precious farmland, volunteers collecting water quality data and re-planting eroded streambanks, event participants enjoying their time on the river and giving us ideas for even better programs next year, and donors behind the scenes, making all this work possible.  Taken together, all of us are working to realize the Vision of “a healthy and sustainable Genesee River ecosystem that is an environmental, recreational and economic asset for all generations”.

We wish you all a wonderful holiday season and hope to see you on and around the Genesee in 2022!


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

Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Award Winners

Genesee RiverWatch announced its 2021 Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Award recipients. The awards are given to individuals, organizations, projects, or events in recognition of significant contributions to our mission of “championing solutions that improve the water quality of the Genesee and initiatives that connect people to the River”. Our three recipients are:

  • Commissioner Norman Jones manages the Department of Environmental Services for the City of Rochester. Commissioner Jones played a key role in implementing the Petten Street Boat Launch car-top boat launch opened in September, 2020. Despite delays and budget challenges, his unwavering support and partnership with Genesee RiverWatch brought this idea to reality. Dozens of people make use of this dock every weekend from spring through fall – paddling upstream for recreation and to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the Genesee.
  • Robert Stryker is the Manager of the Livingston County Soil & Water Conservation District. His work to develop and implement Agricultural Best Management Practices (AgBMP) is directly supportive of the RiverWatch mission to improve water quality in the Genesee River watershed. In 2020 Bob partnered with Genesee RiverWatch to secure grants to implement multiple AgBMP projects in the Jaycox Creek watershed of Livingston County. The initial 85-acre project on North Road in Geneseo was begun in October 2020 and completed in July 2021.
  • Michael Kannard has been an active volunteer for Genesee RiverWatch for two years. In addition to being a valuable member of the Citizen Monitoring Program, Mike helped harvest and plant live willow stakes on RiverWatch and other streambank projects, and helped us secure funding for upgrading canoe and kayak access sites in Avon and Geneseo.
  • Learn more about the award winners and their accomplishments.

Streambank Restoration

Our work to improve water quality includes stabilizing and restoring streambanks and helping apply agricultural best management practices that reduce sediment and phosphorus loads to the river, and slow the rate of erosion, preserving 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 and have provided updates below.

Mallards Dairy #2/Town of Caneadea

Construction on this project to restore 1,800 feet of eroded streambank along the Genesee River just south of the Village of Houghton, NY, began in September 2021 and was completed in October 2021. The contractor excavated the banks, completed the toe wood construction, and built five rock vanes in the river. The field is owned and cultivated by Mallards Dairy, LLC to support their large dairy operation in Cuba, NY. The owner, Charlie Bares, provided all of the funding to hire the contractor as his match for this $320,000 project. He and his wife, Elizabeth, also helped with the initial harvesting and planting of willow stakes in the benches of the toe wood construction along with other volunteers and 17 conservation class students from Livonia, NY. Heavy rains and a COVID quarantine affecting a large group of volunteers disrupted our original plan to harvest and plant 6,000 willow stakes. We will work to have the remainder planted by spring 2022. Learn more about this project.

Agricultural Best Management Practices Project/Livingston County

Genesee RiverWatch has been working with the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District (LCS&WCD) since 2020 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 being considered are terraces, grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs), and underground outlets. The first project was completed in June 2021 and involved an 85-acre area east of Geneseo, NY, owned by three separate farms. The work included the installation of 5 WASCOBs, 2,400 feet of underground drainage, and 1,400 feet of grassed waterways.

Two additional projects have been identified in partnership with LCS&WCD. These projects were begun this fall and will be completed before the growing season in 2022. The first one is on a horse farm north of Geneseo, NY, involving improvements to the poor drainage around the stables to reduce the runoff and subsequent soil erosion. The second project is on a farm field east of Geneseo, NY which has significant erosion across the field causing runoff of soil and phosphorus.

Paddling the Genesee

Between May and October, Genesee RiverWatch partnered with both the Genesee Waterways Center and the Erie Canal Boat Company to provide guided paddles on the Genesee, as well as Black Creek and Red Creek. In total, 71 people joined us, with each trip attracting between 2 and 17 paddlers. Learn more about the 2021 Paddling season, our outlook for 2022, and enjoy Mike Haugh’s photography of the river!

Genesee River Blueway Map: The Genesee River Blueway Map is available for use by canoeists and kayakers who wish to explore and connect with the river. Available as a downloadable overview map or an interactive map.

Canoe/Kayak Access Projects

Genesee RiverWatch is continuing to work with our partners toward improving access to the river for car-top boaters.

Avon/Geneseo – The US Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded Genesee RiverWatch a grant to upgrade canoe/kayak access sites on the Genesee River in Avon and Geneseo. We expect funding to be available by March 2022 and to complete construction by December 2022.

Houghton – Genesee River Wilds has recently reached an agreement with the Village of Houghton to create a new access site near their wastewater treatment plant. Work has been completed to grade the access road and parking lot. The site will be available for the 2022 boating season. Genesee RiverWatch will provide Blueway signs and include the site on our interactive map.

Fillmore – Genesee River Wilds has been working to secure an official access site in Fillmore to take the place of the unofficial site that has been there for years. The current unofficial site was closed down by the new landowner recently. Genesee RiverWatch has assisted Genesee River Wilds by acting as liaison with the owner of the property on the other side of the river from the old site. The landowner has agreed to allow Allegany County to complete construction. This site is expected to be available for use in the 2022 season. Genesee RiverWatch will provide Blueway signs and include the site on our interactive map.

Genesee River Silver Cleanup – Dec 15th Status Overview

This summer, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) began dredging work to remove pockets of sediment contaminated with silver in the Genesee River below Lower Falls. Genesee RiverWatch and the Genesee Finger Lakes Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association are proud to partner on the following presentation: Status of the Lower Genesee River Corrective Action – NYSDEC Environmental Response Trust to be held on Dec 15th. Learn more and register.

2021 Year End Appeal

Our Year End Appeal is underway and we are seeking your support! Please consider investing $100, $250 – or an amount of your choosing – in Genesee RiverWatch as a part of your year-end giving plan. Help us continue our work to improve the water quality of the Genesee River and its tributaries and to connect people to the river. Our work is only made possible through our generous supporters.

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