Spring Newsletter 2023

Dear Friends and Supporters:

Spring is upon us and Genesee RiverWatch’s 2023 work is well underway. We are improving water quality and wildlife habitat via streambank restoration and application of agricultural best management practices. We are creating opportunities to get on the Genesee with our paddling program and river access improvement projects. Our annual Genesee River Basin Summit this May brought together experts from around the region to develop plans to improve water quality. We couldn’t do any of this work without our superb volunteer Board of Directors and the help of our technical and financial supporters.  Many thanks for YOUR support.


Mike Haugh, President of the Board

George Thomas, Executive Director

Annual Genesee River Basin Summit

Genesee RiverWatch presented its annual Genesee River Basin Summit on May 10th, 2023 at RIT’s Student Development Center. The topic of this year’s summit was Improving Water Quality – Sediment and Phosphorus Reduction. The objective was to solicit feedback on a Genesee RiverWatch proposal to improve water quality in the Genesee River Basin through sediment and phosphorus reduction. The Summit included a review of current basin-wide programs, an update on NYS State policy responses to emerging issues such as climate change, and a review of current sediment and phosphorus load reduction programs and activities.  A summary and all presentations can be found in the Genesee River Basin Summit 2023 Wrap-Up .

Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Award Presentations at the Summit

The Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Awards were presented to Helen Dumas and Roy Wood at our annual Genesee River Basin Summit. Roy received the award in appreciation for his work with our Citizen Monitoring and Genesee River watershed wastewater treatment plant data. Helen is a Genesee Land Trust staff member and its Genesee River Alliance Coordinator. She was presented the Award in recognition of her work in helping to build the Genesee River Alliance into an effective organization to promote interest in the Genesee River within the City of Rochester. 

Paddling the Genesee

2023 Plans

In planning for the 2023 paddling season and beyond, we continue to be guided by the idea that there is no substitute for experiencing the Genesee from water level.  Paddle dates for 2023 are:

  • Friday, June 23, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
  • Sunday, July 9, 10:00AM – 1:00 PM
  • Saturday, August 5, 10:00AM – 1:00PM
  • Saturday, September 17, 10AM – 1:00PM
  • Saturday, October 7, 3:00 – 6:00PM

More details to follow!

Streambank Restoration & Agricultural Best Management

Our work to improve water quality includes stabilizing and restoring streambanks and applying agricultural best management practices that reduce sediment and phosphorus loads to the river, and that 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 Projects

Babbitt’s Farm – Genesee River Streambank Restoration

The project will restore 850 feet of highly eroded streambank on Babbitt’s Farm north of Caneadea, NY.  We will also install river training structures to prevent further erosion at the site and downstream, affecting 2,250 feet of riverbed.  Site surveys and meetings with NYSDEC and the Army Corps of Engineers will begin in the spring of 2023 with construction planned for early fall 2023. This project is funded by a $200,000 grant from the Great Lakes Commission and a $50,000 in-kind match by the landowner, Babbitt’s Farm.

Oatka Creek – Tributary to Genesee River Streambank Restoration

New York Sea Grant has awarded Genesee RiverWatch a $48,400 grant to restore eroded streambanks and/or prevent erosion on Oatka Creek using bio-engineering techniques that create aquatic and riparian habitat. A design charrette was held on November 1st at the Genesee Country Village and Museum. The charrette provided some very practical design ideas to incorporate in our ultimate proposal. Its success was attributable to the willingness of the 17 participants to embrace the concepts of design that maximize the use of on-site materials and minimize the use of materials and equipment from off-site and the fact that this is a demonstration project. Designs for three segments of the creek are being developed for regulatory review in the second quarter 2023. It is expected that the results of this demonstration project will lead to the application of the techniques developed on other stream segments in the Genesee River watershed.

Agricultural Best Management Practices (Ag BMPs) in Livingston County

This project was initiated in 2021 to define and implement Ag BMP’s to reduce nutrient loads from agricultural lands in the Jaycox Creek Watershed in Livingston County.  This partnership with Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District resulted in the identification and implementation of four projects by mid-2022. At that time, we had $25,000 remaining in the grant budget.  Originally these funds were planned to compensate Livingston County S&WCD for their work on the project.  However, Robert Stryker, Director, asked to apply this money to another project that will improve drainage on the Bailey Farm.  Late last year the grantor approved the change. Construction of this last project will be complete in August after the winter wheat is harvested.

Quick Notes:

Genesee RiverWatch Welcomes New Board Members

We are pleased to welcome the following to our Board of Directors:

  • Norm Jones previously worked for the City of Rochester for more than 30 years in a variety of positions with increasing responsibility. Norm recently retired as the City’s Commissioner of Environmental Services.
  • Paul McFadden is the City of Rochester’s Manager of Workforce Development. His position includes managing the REJob Environmental Construction Training Program which has placed 122 disadvantaged city residents in environmental construction careers.
  • Steven Schiano works for his family business, S.E. Schiano Logging, primarily within the Genesee River watershed. Their projects include timber harvesting, streambank stabilization, invasive species removal, access improvements, and planting and maintaining 10,000+/- bare-rootstock seedlings every year.

Learn more about our Board Members.

Orvis Rochester Giveback Days in May

During the month of May, Orvis Rochester rewarded customers who made a $10 donation to Genesee RiverWatch with a discount good for 10% off an in-store purchase. We are very grateful to Orvis for this opportunity! Learn more

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. The map is being updated in Spring, 2023.

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. We have begun work with our partners at Geneseo River Access Park and Avon/Rt. 20 to improve boating access sites in Avon and Geneseo. Design work and site surveys have been initiated. We expect to have the work complete before the end of the boating season.

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. We are very appreciative of Our Supporters.

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