Dear Friends and Supporters:
As we approach the end of the year, our team at Genesee RiverWatch invites you to read an update on our progress to “protect and celebrate the river”. We’ve had a great summer with news of generous funding for 2023 streambank restoration projects, a successful summer paddling program and commitments to improve access to the river. We couldn’t do any of this work without our superb volunteer Board of Directors and the help of our supporters. Thank you for YOUR support.
Mike Haugh, President of the Board
George Thomas, Executive Director
Paddling the Genesee
2022 Season Report and 2023 Outlook
Once again, the leaves on the trees bordering our river have given us their brilliant fall display of reds, golds, and deep greens. However, the chill winds raising wavelets on the water are a reminder that this year’s paddling season has come to an end, and it is time to recall the year’s high points and make plans for 2023.
As in summers past, in 2022 Genesee RiverWatch partnered with the Genesee Waterways Center and the City of Rochester to offer a program of public paddles on the lower river. With COVID coming under better control and taking lessons from prior years, we made several changes to the program. This year we offered 5 monthly events from June 11th through October 2nd. These included two events, designed for both novice and experienced paddlers, which started from the Waterways Center and paddled up the secluded waters of Red Creek. This route is protected from winds and most boating traffic, making it a great place to learn or refresh paddling skills.
Two additional events were limited to paddlers with intermediate+ experience and launched from the new ADA dock on the harbor at Petten Street. We travelled upstream past the historical sights at Turning Point Park and into the area we have termed the “wilderness in the city” before returning to Petten Street.
Crowning the season was the October 2nd ROC the Riverway Weekend paddle. We gathered at Petten Street, took a city van upriver to Seth Green Park, and paddled the full five mile stretch of the Genesee back to the harbor. We had a brisk but dry fall day to watch fishermen at Lower Falls land a huge salmon, see the Underground Railroad terminus at Kelsey’s Landing, and learn about other pre-Erie Canal river villages including Carthage and Kings Landing, as well as the industrial history of the coal and cement terminals at Turning Point Park.
Over the course of the summer, 34 people participated in the program, several of them coming on multiple dates. In addition, our tours were joined by a number of paddlers who had their own kayaks and wanted to enjoy a day on the river while learning more about its history and RiverWatch activities.
Looking forward to 2023 and beyond, our plans will continue to be guided by the idea that there is no substitute for experiencing the Genesee from water level. Thus, we want to increase the number of available paddling dates, add new sections of the river to paddle, create more opportunities for individuals and families who do not know how to paddle to learn the sport, and find ways to incorporate K-12 educational experiences in the program.
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 and along the river by establishing wild plantings in the riparian zones.
2023 Streambank Restoration Projects
Babbitt’s Farm – Genesee River
Recently we received notification from the Great Lakes Commission of a $200,000 grant award that includes a $50,000 in-kind match by the landowner, Babbitt’s Farm. This project will reduce phosphorus and sediment loads to the Genesee River Basin by stabilizing 850 feet of a highly eroded streambank, restoring the riparian zone, and installing river training structures to prevent further erosion at the site and downstream affecting 2,250 feet of riverbed. The landowner has lost over two acres of land in the last four years and the rate is accelerating.
Work will begin early next year with a site survey and pre-construction meeting with the Department of Environmental Conservation and the US Army Corps of Engineers. We expect to begin construction in the second half of 2023.
Oatka Creek – Tributary to Genesee River
New York Sea Grant has awarded Genesee RiverWatch a $48,400 grant to identify, design, install, and evaluate three options to restore eroded streambanks and/or prevent erosion on Oatka Creek using bio-engineering techniques that create aquatic and riparian habitat. These techniques will make maximum use of materials and equipment available on-site and minimize purchased materials and equipment from off-site locations. We will be partnering with the Oatka Creek Watershed Committee and the Genesee Country Village and Museum.
It is expected that the results of this demonstration project will lead to application of the techniques developed on other stream segments in the Genesee River watershed. Our mission is to champion solutions that improve the water quality of the Genesee and initiatives that connect people to the River. The Genesee River watershed has many tributaries and sections of the main stem that could utilize the techniques developed and demonstrated by this project on Oatka Creek.
2022 Genesee River Basin Summit
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. Our 8th “Summit” was a series of four online workshops held in May. The presentations and online recordings are now available.
We are looking for feedback as we plan for our 2023 Summit. Here is a link to a quick survey (5 min or less): SURVEY
Genesee River Blueway Map
The Genesee River Blueway Map is your guide to paddling the Genesee from its headwaters in Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario. It shows safe access sites and provides the river mileage between these points. The map is available as a tri-fold brochure at many of the access sites and is downloadable from our website. Also on the website is an interactive map that will allow you to custom plan your route and print a more detailed map specific to your plan.
Latest Grant Approval
The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation/Sustain Our Great Lakes has approved our Rush Creek Riparian Restoration proposal. The grant is for $212.5K, with $245.2K of matching work by Allegany County and Allegany County S&WCD, for a total project of $457.7K. This project will stabilize and re-direct the flow of Rush Creek to prevent erosion on the creek and avoid undermining our Edelweiss project where the creek meets the river.
Canoe/Kayak Access Projects
Genesee RiverWatch is continuing to work with our partners to improve access to the river for fishing and car-top boaters. Working with our partners, several projects are in the works. A grant was just approved for $87K to improve boating access sites in Avon and Geneseo. Stay tuned for updates in 2023 including projects in Fillmore and Houghton.
Georgiana Prince Retires from Board
Thank you to Georgiana Prince for your 20+ years of contribution to the important work of CEI and Genesee RiverWatch! Our all-volunteer Board of Directors is the reason Genesee RiverWatch exists!
Liz Thorndike, Georgiana Prince, Mike Haugh
Donor Support Helps Us Do Our Work
Genesee RiverWatch relies heavily on community support to continue its work of improving water quality and connecting people to the river. Please keep Genesee RiverWatch in your plans for 2022 year end donations and, if possible, increase your support so that we can cover not only current inflation but also the increased tempo of work planned for next year.
This year, two local businesses have recognized the contributions of Genesee RiverWatch and partnered with their customers to raise money for Genesee RiverWatch.
We thank the Orvis Company for featuring Genesee RiverWatch in their “Great Giveback Days” promotion last May. This generous program offered a $10 Orvis donation to RiverWatch for every purchase of at least $10 at their Pittsford Plaza store. The partnership between Orvis and its customers resulted in a terrific donation of $4,155 in support of our work on the Genesee River!
Heroes Brewing Co. is now offering “160 Lifeline”, a Coconut Cream Ale created especially for Genesee RiverWatch in reference to the 160 miles the Genesee River flows from Gold, PA, to Rochester and in celebration of it being the lifeline of Rochester. We hope you’ll stop by their location at 543 Atlantic Avenue (open Wednesdays-Saturdays) and give “160 Lifeline” a try. It’s available on tap and also as a four-pack. The best part? One dollar from the sale of every four-pack of “160 Lifeline” will go to Genesee RiverWatch as a way for Heroes Brewing to help support our organization.