Fall Newsletter 2023

Dear Friends and Supporters:

As we transition from the vibrant colors of fall to the upcoming winter, we are pleased to bring you the latest edition of our newsletter. Join us as we reflect on the successes of the past season and peek ahead into the New Year. From environmental stewardship activities such as streambank restoration to community engagement opportunities such as river paddling events, we are committed to fostering a deeper connection between individuals and the Genesee River. In this issue, we share updates on our ongoing efforts to champion solutions that improve the water quality of the Genesee River Basin and connect people to this invaluable natural resource. Thank you for your continued support and dedication to our mission. Together, we can make a meaningful impact on the Genesee River and its surrounding communities.


Mike Haugh, President of the Board

George Thomas, Executive Director

Recreation in the Genesee River Basin

The Genesee River Basin is filled with natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Whether you are looking for a woodland or riverside walk, an experience paddling on the River or relaxing time fishing…the Genesee has something to offer. We have recently added “Recreation” as a key segment of our website’s Home Page. From here, you can easily access a wealth of information on the activities outlined below:


There are wonderful hiking opportunities in the Genesee River Basin. Trail systems include the Genesee Riverway in the City of Rochester, the Genesee Valley Greenway that extends 90 miles from Rochester to Cuba, the 15-mile Lehigh Valley Trail in southern Monroe County and extensive network of routes in Letchworth State Park. From these, we have compiled our own list of trails that – as a rule – are less well known and should have very little traffic. Trail descriptions.

Paddling on the River

The Genesee River Blueway Map is available for use by canoeists and kayakers who wish to explore and connect with the river. In addition, each year Genesee RiverWatch partners with the Genesee Waterways Center and the City of Rochester for organized Summer Paddles on the Genesee River.


The Genesee River and its tributaries offer a rich variety of angling opportunities – from fly-casting for trout in sparkling clear water to fighting huge salmon near the base of a 100-foot waterfall. Learn more.

2023 Paddling Season Wrap-up

Our heartfelt thanks to those who joined us in making 2023’s summer paddling season on the Genesee the most successful ever.  102 paddlers joined us during the five events this summer – far more than in any previous year!

Genesee RiverWatch, in partnership with the Genesee Waterways Center and the City of Rochester, has offered summer paddles on the river since 2018.  We feel strongly that the best way to really appreciate this marvelous asset is to explore it from water level, along with the herons, turtles, muskrat, mink, and occasional eagles that make their homes on the river and its banks. Read about all the paddles here.

Streambank Restoration & Agricultural Best Management

Our work to improve water quality includes stabilizing and restoring eroding 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 Project Updates

Agricultural Best Management Practices (Ag BMPs) in Livingston County

Work was completed on five Agricultural Best Management Practices projects in September 2023 to reduce nutrient loads from the Jaycox Creek-Genesee River watershed. The funding for this work was granted in part based upon a 2018 study by Genesee RiverWatch that identified 32 significant gullies on the main stem of the Genesee River in the Jaycox Creek-Genesee River Watershed. 

Ultimately projects were designed and implemented by Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District that utilized 23 Ag BMPs at five sites as described in the table below. Genesee RiverWatch provided project management services for this project, including financial management and reporting quarterly, to the grant provider, the Great Lakes Commission.

ProjectWork DoneTotal Cost (K$)Grant (K$)Match (K$)Match (%)
North RoadWASCOBS*, underground outlets, sub-surface drainage, grassed waterways$153.1$  61.9$  91.360%
KJ FarmsHeavy use area protection$  19.6$  14.7$    4.825%
Brady FarmWASCOBS*, underground outlets, sub-surface drainage$  47.8$  31.6$  16.234%
Mt. PleasantCatch basin, retention pond, access road$119.2$  41.8$  77.465%
Baily FarmContour farming$  29.6$  25.6$   3.913%
*WASCOBS = Water and Sediment Control Basin

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.  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. Detailed design is in progress. A pre-application meeting with NYSDEC and the Army Corps of Engineers will be held by year end 2023. We are currently working on a Memorandum of Understanding with the 3 landowners that will be impacted and plan to submit permit applications this winter for 2024 construction.

Oatka Creek – Genesee River Tributary Streambank Restoration

New York Sea Grant has awarded Genesee RiverWatch a $48,400 grant to restore eroded streambanks and prevent erosion on Oatka Creek using bio-engineering techniques that create aquatic and riparian habitat. The project design will demonstrate an approach that maximizes the use of on-site materials and minimizes the use of costly materials and equipment from off-site. The State Historic Preservation Office and NYSDEC have approved our permit applications. We are preparing a response to comments received from the Army Corps of Engineers and expect to receive our permits by year end 2023. Construction will be completed next summer.

Rush Creek Riparian Restoration

A grant from National Fish & Wildlife Foundation/Sustain Our Great Lakes and a significant amount of matching work by Allegany County Highway Department and Allegany County S&WCD will enable us to stabilize and re-direct the flow of Rush Creek to prevent erosion both on the creek itself and on the West Bank of the Genesee, where the creek meets the river.  This is a complex project with significant regulatory/environmental issues and several landowners involved. We expect to submit the permit application by early 2024 and begin construction in the fall of 2024.

Quick Notes:

Genesee RiverWatch Welcomes New Board Members

We are pleased to welcome Steve Orr and Kristen Traywick to our Board of Directors:

  • Steve Orr – For 40 years, Steve was a leading reporter and columnist for the Democrat and Chronicle in Rochester. In that time, his most enduring interest and impactful work centered on the environment and natural resource conservation.
  • Kristen Traywick – Kristin works works as Senior Director, Finance – Clinical Trials at ACM Global Laboratories. Kristin has a long history of volunteering including as a previous volunteer for Genesee RiverWatch, Wildtracks in Belize, and Merazonia, a wildlife rescue organization in Ecuador.

Learn more about our Staff and Board of Directors.

Photo Galleries

Ever since we launched Genesee RiverWatch, we have planned to organize the many beautiful photos taken by Genesee RiverWatch volunteers into Photo Galleries. We have finally got a start and invite you to check out on our new Photo Galleries page.

Genesee River Blueway Map Update

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.  Currently, 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. In the Spring we will release an updated map, adding hiking trails along the river, new access sites, and areas where Genesee RiverWatch has executed river improvement projects. Watch your email and our website for the announcement of this major upgrade.

Canoe/Kayak Access Projects

Genesee RiverWatch is continuing to work to improve access to the river for fishing and car-top boaters. We have begun work with our partners to improve boating access sites off Route 20 in the village of Avon and at Geneseo River Access Park in the village of Geneseo. Engineering plans have been finalized and permit applications submitted.  Construction is to be completed next summer.

Anticipating Our 50th Anniversary in 2024

Genesee RiverWatch launched in 2014 but it is important to note that we grew directly out of the Center for Environmental Information (CEI), formed in 1974 – so yes, we will soon be 50 years old! The organization carries on the CEI principles of – Collaboration, Education and Public Information. To these Genesee RiverWatch adds implementation of projects. You will be hearing more about this history and our celebration in 2024.

Donor Support Helps Us Do Our Work – Please Support our Year End Appeal!

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. Please consider a donation.

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