Understand the Carbon Impact of Our Actions and Support Our Work in 2023

Our Year-End Appeal has gotten off to a great start with friends, both old and new, responding to our opening letter and joining the ranks of this year’s supporters. If you have not yet donated, your help is critical to our ability to do the work that is so essential to our shared Vision of “a healthy and sustainable Genesee River ecosystem that is an environmental, recreational, and economic asset for all generations.” Help us continue our work in 2023. Please go here on our website and donate $100, $250 – or an amount of your choosing – to Genesee RiverWatch as a part of your year-end giving plan.

In recent years we have all heard a great deal about global warming and its impacts on human lives in both poor and wealthy parts of our world: weather is becoming more unpredictable, wildfires are far more dangerous, rising sea levels threaten both Florida and entire Pacific island countries. While some of this change may be part of a natural cycle, it is impossible to deny our own role in heating our planet by adding vast amounts of carbon to our atmosphere. Hence, the international agreements on carbon mitigation, the rapidly progressing changeover to electric vehicles, and the equally rapid advances in carbon-free energy production from solar, wind, and hydro sources.

It was tempting for us at Genesee RiverWatch to think that, while we are doing good things for our environment, carbon reduction is not something that we needed to worry about. The fallacy of that “head-in-the-sand” thinking came home to us in 2020 while we were partnering with U.S. Fish & Wildlife on the Chamberlain Farms streambank stabilization project. For the first time, we were using trees as a key part of the bank stabilization material. They have the advantage of improving habitat for both river and land-dwelling creatures and they avoided the “armored” appearance of rock-walled projects. However, as one of our scientist Board members pointed out, we were cutting down large numbers of mature carbon-sequestering trees, thus contributing to global warming and potentially running counter to our own 2020 New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

Over the course of several meetings, Genesee RiverWatch hammered out its own Carbon Neutral Policy for construction projects. You can find the full policy here on our website. In short, it says that:

Genesee RiverWatch will seek a minimum of carbon neutrality in each of the construction projects that it initiates and implements, either solely or in partnership with others. In so doing, it will:

· Minimize the removal of carbon sequestering mature live trees used in the project;

· Minimize the release of carbon dioxide (e.g., burning of fuels) during the construction process; and

· Undertake specific and verifiable carbon offset activities which will result in zero net addition of carbon to the atmosphere over a ten-year period or less from the completion of a project. If feasible, offset activities that have the potential to enhance carbon sequestration above the breakeven level will be employed.

As we have begun to work with this policy statement, it has become clear that implementing it is not nearly as simple as it appears at first blush. With the flood of new project grant approvals this fall, we will be deep into the details over the next two years. We will report to you periodically on our progress in this area and will be happy to share our real-world experiences with anyone else who wishes to join us in this effort to preserve our climate for future generations.

Other recent Genesee RiverWatch projects are highlighted in our latest newsletter. We look forward to another productive year in 2023, and your donation will help to make that possible.

Thank you from the Genesee RiverWatch team!

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