This article is part of Genesee RiverWatch’s 2021 Year End Appeal Series – telling the stories behind our significant accomplishments.
In 2014, our founding organization, the Center for Environmental Initiatives, launched Genesee RiverWatch with the first-ever Genesee River Basin Summit. On a freezing day in February, 185 attendees, representing 85 organizations, heard speakers describe the critical needs of the Genesee and participated in breakout sessions designed to flesh out and prioritize future projects. Except for COVID-affected 2020, we have hosted Summits every year since. Each has included reports to the community on our work and presented expert speakers on a wide variety of topics.
Summit Topics Since 2014
Here are the major topics discussed at each Summit since the 2014 inaugural:
- 2015 – Genesee River Basin Report Card on Water Quality. Sought participant input on the coverage and design of a future Report Card. Also sought input on potential restoration projects.
- 2016 – Streambank Erosion, Soil Loss & Sediment.
- 2017 – River Access & Recreation Opportunities.
- 2018 – Stewardship Through River Education.
- 2019 – A Report to the Community. 17 organizations reported on their work in the areas of planning, access, restoration, and education.
In addition to expert speakers on these topics, each Summit included a report by Genesee RiverWatch on its current activities, and, most importantly, multiple opportunities for the participants voice their ideas for future priority work.
We were forced to cancel the planned 2020 Summit in the face of the COVID pandemic but were determined to bring the program back this year.
2021 “Virtual” Summit
In place of a single day, in-person program, the 2021 Summit was held virtually via Zoom on four Wednesday mornings in April and May. Each session featured expert speakers on the day’s topic, a report on Genesee RiverWatch’s work in the area and time for viewer questions and suggestions. For those unable to attend the sessions live, we recorded them for posting on YouTube. Here are the topics covered in each session and the YouTube links to their recording:
Session #1 – We Need Trees How streambank projects drive the need for seedlings and juvenile trees to restore riparian zones. RiverWatch’s new Carbon Neutral Policy to offset the carbon sequestration impact of construction projects. Early report on potential crowdsourcing of trees stock. “We Need Trees” – Genesee River Basin 2021 Summit – Workshop #1 – April 7, 2021 – YouTube
Session #2 – What’s Going On – A discussion of past, current and upcoming streambank stabilization and Agricultural Best Management Practice projects. “What’s Going On?” – Genesee River Basin 2021 Summit – Workshop #2 – April 14, 2021 – YouTube
Session #3 – Got Access? – Overview of the recently published Genesee River Basin Canoe/Kayak Access Plan. Discussions of the planned Fillmore access site and the new Petten Street canoe/kayak dock. “Got Access?” – Genesee River Basin 2021 Summit – Workshop #3 – May 5, 2021 – YouTube
Session #4 – Let’s Plan a Canoe/Kayak Trip Introduction to the new Genesee River Blueway map. Description of available services at Erie Canal Boat Company and the Genesee Waterways Center. On-the-water descriptions of Genesee paddling routes from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario. “Let’s Plan a Canoe/Kayak Trip” – Genesee River Basin Summit 2021 – Workshop #4 – May 12, 2021 – YouTube
In-person Summit sessions are much better at fostering personal interactions and friendships. They are also much better than “virtual” programs at stimulating participant ideas and debate. However, it appears that, for 2022 at least, health concerns will dictate that we continue meeting via Zoom. Keep your eyes on the Genesee RiverWatch emails and website for information on next year’s Summit program. We hope you can attend, in particular because your ideas and viewpoints make these programs more valuable for all of us.
Your Support is Needed
Your support is critical to our ability to continue this work on behalf of our river and our community. As you know, Genesee RiverWatch is dependent on its volunteers to do this work. However, our volunteers need funding to run the organization, offer public events, and do the studies, outreach, and engineering necessary to obtain financing for the larger projects.
Please consider investing $100, $250 – or an amount of your choosing – in Genesee RiverWatch as a part of your year-end giving plan.
The Genesee RiverWatch Team