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. Due to the pandemic, we are organizing our 7th “Summit” as a series of four online workshops to be held in April and May.
The workshops are open for registration. Just click on the link for EACH workshop below to register. The meetings will be held via Zoom. The meeting link will be sent to you via e-mail upon registration.
Topic: A look at the growing need for trees to use in conservation projects and what can be done to satisfy that need. Additionally, the carbon sequestration implications of conservation projects will be discussed.
Who should attend: Those interested in understanding the relationship between conservation projects and climate action.
|What drives the need?||20 minutes||George Thomas, Genesee RiverWatch||Introduction to how streambank restoration and conservation projects drive the need for trees. Discussion of the unintended consequences of streambank restoration projects on carbon sequestration.|
|Carbon sequestration||25 minutes||Joseph Makarewicz, Genesee RiverWatch||Discussion of how Genesee RiverWatch decided to adopt a Carbon Neutral Policy.|
|Crowdsourcing Trees||25 minutes||Michael Boller, St. John Fisher College & Genesee RiverWatch||Update on the progress of a cooperative project with St. John Fisher College, Oatka Creek Watershed Committee, and Rochester Ecology Partners to demonstrate the feasibility of crowdsourcing trees for streambank restoration and conservation projects.|
|Panel Discussion||20 minutes||All||Questions & Answers|
Topic: A review of past, present and future water quality improvement projects developed and implemented by Genesee RiverWatch in partnership with various basin stakeholders.
Who should attend: Those interested in water quality improvement projects on the Genesee River.
|Past Projects||20 minutes||Pete Lent, Genesee RiverWatch||Review of three completed streambank restoration projects in Caneadea, Angelica, and Fillmore, NY totaling over 5,700 linear feet.|
|Present Projects||20 minutes||George Thomas, Genesee RiverWatch||Update on two water quality improvement projects currently underway. One streambank restoration project in Houghton, NY and Agricultural Best Management Practice projects in Livingston County.|
|Future Projects||20 minutes||Scott Fonte, Agricultural Engineering Services||Overview of two projects being developed in Allegany County. One streambank restoration project in Caneadea, NY and the naturalization of the Rush Creek channel into the river near Fillmore, NY..|
|Panel Discussion||20 minutes||All||Questions & Answers|
Topic: Presentations on current cartop boat access improvement plans for the Genesee River Basin by various stakeholders followed by questions and answers with the panel.
Who should attend: Those interested in canoeing or kayaking on the Genesee River whether or not they have their own boat.
|Genesee River Canoe/Kayak Access Plan||25 minutes||George Thomas, Genesee RiverWatch||Overview of recently published Genesee River Basin Canoe/Kayak Access Plan. New and upgraded sites. Update on site improvement projects in Avon, Geneseo, and Caneadea, NY.|
|New Site in Fillmore||25 minutes||Thomas Rhett, Genesee River Wilds||Story behind Fillmore site: A look at what it takes to get a new site established.|
|City of Rochester||25 minutes||Michael Haugh & Charlie Valeska, Genesee RiverWatch||Update on new access site near Petten Street. Review of investigations into new sites at Maplewood Park and Seneca Park.|
|Panel Discussion||15 minutes||All||Question and Answers|
Topic: Presentations by basin outfitters and stakeholder groups on how to plan your next trip on the river.
Who should attend: Those interested in planning a canoe or kayak trip on the Genesee River.
|Genesee River Blueway Map||20 minutes||George Thomas & Wayne Howard, Genesee RiverWatch||Introduction to our interactive Genesee River Blueway map. How to use it. Interesting and useful features.|
|Who can help me?||30 minutes||Peter Abel, Erie Canal Boat Company & John Courain, Genesee Waterways Center||Description of services available to help you get on the water even if you do not have equipment. Covers planned events and ad hoc ones.|
|Some Recommended Trips||30 minutes||Thomas Rhett, Genesee River Wilds; Ben Gajewski, Genesee Valley Conservancy; Michael Haugh, Genesee RiverWatch||Description and details of presenters’ favorite trips on the various portions of the whole river from Pennsylvania to the Port of Rochester.|
|Panel Discussion||10 minutes||All||Question & Answers|
From hiking to paddling, there is a lot happening along the whole length of the Genesee River in 2021. Here is a summary of the actions being taken by Genesee RiverWatch and others to encourage and enable exploration on and around the river.
Hiking: While we wait for the weather to warm and the boating and fishing seasons to return, we can still enjoy the Genesee River Basin’s beauty on the many trails that follow the river and the shores of our lakes. Last year, when the pandemic put an end to large events, we published 9 suggested routes along the river and beside Hemlock and Canadice lakes. Before the recent snows, we added a new route on the seldom-seen east side of Letchworth State Park. We will add several more for your enjoyment as the spring season progresses.
Genesee River Alliance: Many of you are aware of the Genesee River Alliance, a group of organizations promoting opportunities on the river within the City of Rochester. They are hosted by the Genesee Land Trust and can be found at Genesee River Alliance — Genesee Land Trust. On their website you can find videos of the river and fascinating audio guided walking tours courtesy of Tour Blend.
Trail Town Destination Project: On February 19th, the Letchworth Gateway Villages group held a virtual kickoff of this grant-funded initiative. During the 12-month project, 10 participating communities from Wheatland to Cuba will receive destination capacity building support, including development of consistent trail town branding and marketing guidelines for signage, a digital trail mapping and management tool that better connects town assets with trail users, kiosks, trailhead improvements, and public art. This work should greatly enhance the usability of the Genesee Valley Greenway for hikers and river lovers. For more information, go to: Genesee Valley Trail Town Initiative — LETCHWORTH GATEWAY VILLAGES.
Allegany County Local Waterfront Revitalization Program: In another example of the rapidly building interest in the Genesee River’s economic potential, Allegany County recently announced that it would begin the process of developing a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). Similar to the LWRP begun by the City of Rochester in 1990 and most recently amended in 2017, this document will assess the county’s river-related assets and develop a multi-year plan for enhanced access, trails, parks, businesses and cultural assets.
2021 Paddling Program: This summer, Genesee RiverWatch will partner with Erie Canal Boat Company and the Genesee Waterways Center to offer public kayak and canoe paddles on the Genesee and the Erie Canal. Current plans call for kayak events at the Black Creek DEC dock (May 21-23) and the new Petten Street dock (May 28-30). Keep your eye on the Genesee RiverWatch website and Kayak/Bike | Erie Canal Boat Company for details and to make reservations. This year’s canoeing program with the Waterways Center will see public paddles each month from June through October on either the lower river (Petten Street) or the Erie Canal. Details will be announced on the Genesee RiverWatch website and at Genesee Waterways Center – Home.
Lower River Cruises: Those of you who joined us on one of the Harbor Town Belle cruises in the summer of 2019 may remember them as wonderful fun with great food and interesting discussions. We had planned to expand our schedule to three cruises last summer, but we all know what happens to “the best laid plans”. Unfortunately, the pandemic’s long arm has reached into 2021 as well and prevented the great folks at the Belle from launching their boat again this year. Keep 2022 on your wish list. We expect to come back strong with another great schedule of cruises through our “wilderness in the city”.
Genesee River Blueway Map: Readers will recall the launch of the new Genesee River Blueway Map in August last year. This asset was a collaboration between Genesee RiverWatch, Genesee River Wilds, and the Genesee Valley Conservancy. In addition to a printable PDF version downloadable from our website Genesee River Blueway Map | Genesee RiverWatch, the map is available in a more detailed interactive version from which you can print custom route guides. We began to post river signage at access points from Rochester to Pennsylvania in the fall. This part of the project will be completed in the spring, letting boaters know – from both landside and on the water – the exact locations of access sites and the distances to the next point.
Select item to view
Genesee RiverWatch has funding from the Great Lakes Commission ($197 K) to stabilize and restore 1800′ of eroding streambank near Houghton, NY in the Town of Caneadea. The owner of Mallards Dairy will contribute $119K of in-kind support to the project. All necessary permits have been received (NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, US Army Corp of Engineers and Town of Caneadea). The bioengineering technique known as “toe wood” construction described above will be utilized on this project. Construction will be completed in 2021.
In 2017, RiverWatch staff began discussions with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the New York State Department of Conservation – trustees of the Kodak Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Settlement fund. At their request, we prepared a list of potential project sites from the Allegany County study that would meet their funding criteria. Site visits and detailed discussions followed. Out of this process, a 2,720’ stretch of riverbank near the confluence of the Genesee River and Angelica Creek was chosen. Restoring and stabilizing this site will stop erosion which exceeds 0.5 acres annually.
Past Genesee streambank projects have been accomplished by grading back vertical banks and lining them with boulders to prevent high water currents from scouring away the soil. For this project USF&WS chose to employ a technique called a “toe-wood structure”. In this process, large trees are placed at river bottom level and crisscrossed to form an inter-linked structure with the root wads pointed outward into the river current. Earth is backfilled over this assembly in two “bench” levels that are held in place by grass and tree plantings. (See photos below) In the case of the Chamberlain project, three sloping rock “vanes” were added to further direct flow to the river channel and away from the banks. Among other advantages, toe-wood projects improve habitat for fish and other aquatic life and provide a more natural appearance than rock-hardened structures.
In executing the project, Genesee RiverWatch was responsible for landowner relations, required archeological studies, obtaining the government agency permits, restoration planting and post-construction monitoring. USF&WS managed the detailed engineering and construction phases.
Construction to stabilize the streambank was completed in September 2020. The establishment of the riparian zone on the streambank began in the fall of 2020 and will be completed in the spring of 2021. A 15-foot-wide section of the bank above the toe-wood construction will be planted with native wildflowers and grasses to provide an attractive display of color from spring to fall and attract a variety of pollinators and songbirds
The Aquatic Education Network gathered educators virtually on December 10, 2020 to discuss strategies to provide students who are learning remotely with field study experiences. Field studies are an important element of watershed education. This year, teachers are faced with the challenge of providing students with meaningful watershed education experiences without being able to pile on a bus and head to the nearest waterway. The December meeting was an attempt to figure how to engage students in the essential elements of a field study in remote and hybrid learning environments.
The conversation covered:
A good field study has three key elements. 1) It is a valuable experience, both educationally and personally. 2) It is connected to the curriculum and the students’ lives. 3) It engages students in real work – that is, the activities are useful and productive. In today’s remote learning environment there are challenges in getting materials to students, getting them out into the field safely, and connecting with experts. On the other hand technology provides opportunities for going places without leaving your desk, new tools are available for collaborating across time and space, and home environments provide opportunities for the creative educator.
At the meeting, three models for remote field studies emerged from discussions:
The uncertainty of our current situation has everyone’s plans up in the air and the stress of what educators are asked to do has them feeling overwhelmed but there is still a strong commitment from educators to provide students with the education they deserve, whatever it takes. Coming together to problem solve and share ideas around remote field studies was a powerful example of why the Aquatic Educators Network is a valuable structure for teachers, students, and our community as a whole. Everyone agrees that getting together in person is the ideal way to build a community stewardship minded educators but educator feedback from the discussion says this was a good substitute until that day comes.
The meeting slides contain additional resources.
The final report for the Edelweiss Farms Streambank Restoration Project on the Upper Genesee River is available. The project stabilized 1,980 linear feet of un-buffered agricultural field (Edelweiss Farms) along the west bank of the Genesee River in the Town of Hume, New York. It reduced sediment and phosphorus loads to the river by adding new riparian zone while emphasizing the use of bioengineering techniques and habitat enhancement. Stabilization of the riverbank and the establishment of a vegetated buffer on the reduced bank slope has significantly reduced the rate of erosion and the subsequent loss of agricultural land and with it the loss of fertile topsoil.
This is one of the hiking ideas that Genesee RiverWatch has compiled along and around the Genesee River.
Full route = 6.0 miles round-trip, easy to moderate hiking
Letchworth is a real jewel in the crown of New York State and, indeed, the United States! A trip there is well worthwhile at any time of year. However, like all parks, the easy-to-get-to parts are often crowded, and you will have to wear your mask much of the time. On the other hand, the east side of the river within the park is almost deserted and offers unique hiking and viewing pleasures.
Words of caution: (1) During the winter, park staff may not plow all the roads and will close them to vehicle traffic. Be sure to obey all road closures. (2) On the east side of the river there are very few park walls between you and a disastrous fall into the gorge. Be sensible and leave yourself a wide margin of safety, especially in the winter when snow and ice can make the edges treacherous. (3) Finally, beyond the Middle Falls overlook, you will see signs and orange fencing warning you not to go further. The closed area is a large landslide that can be best seen from the Glen Iris Inn across the river. It is very dangerous and should not be entered!
From NY Thruway Exit 46, take Interstate 390 south to the Mt. Morris exit. Head west on Rt. 408 through Mt. Morris to Nunda. Take Rt. 436 west out of Nunda, 4.6 miles to Parade Ground Road. (If you go under the railroad overpass you have gone too far.) Follow Parade Ground Road to the Parade Ground parking area. In the winter Parade Ground Road will be blocked to vehicle traffic beyond this point. The total distance from Exit 46 is 45.4 miles.
The Letchworth State Park (South Section) map will give you a good overview of the hiking directions below.
Hike downhill along Parade Ground Road about 0.2 miles to where the Genesee Valley Greenway/Finger Lakes Trail crosses the road.
Turn left and walk around the vehicle gate following the level footpath. Continue for about 0.7 miles taking in the views of the gorge. The Greenway Trail follows the towpath of the Genesee Valley Canal (1840-1878) which became the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad in 1882 and, eventually, part of the Pennsylvania Railroad until it was abandoned in 1963. To your left are the remains of the canal bed, old railroad ties and stones used as part of both canal and railroad structures.
From the Middle Falls overlook, return to Parade Ground Road on the same trail. Cross the road, pass through the yellow vehicle barriers, and continue along the trail. Follow the line of the canal/railroad through the forest for 1.75 miles to a set of yellow gates and the unpaved River Road. At this point you will leave the level line of the canal and the hike will become somewhat more difficult as it follows roads up and down hills.
Turn left (north) and follow River Road for about 0.3 miles to a gate on the left that blocks vehicle access to an old logging/park road leading down toward the river. (Letchworth Trail 8A) Walk downhill 0.4 miles to the unpaved extension of Parade Ground Road.
If you turn to the right, the dirt road will end across the river from Great Bend Overlook and the Archery Field. Several interesting trails branch off this road. Keep these in mind for the summer months.
For today’s hike, turn to the left and hike 1.75 miles along the road back to the trail/road intersection below the parking lot where you started. On the way you will pass a trail leading to Lower Falls on the east side (closed in the winter). Further along you will walk by a photogenic pond with a bird blind built on the far side. Shortly after this there is an overlook with a great view of Lower Falls and the hills beyond.
Dear Friends of Genesee RiverWatch,
When the pandemic hit us last year, many of our normal activities were cancelled or became quite risky. Rather than sit in the house and wait for warmer weather, we decided to put on our boots and explore the trails and sights along the Genesee, its tributaries and the four Finger Lakes within the watershed. We published a guide to nine trips in 2020, along the Genesee Riverway Trail, the Genesee Greenway Trail and the Lehigh Valley Trail as well as the trails around Canadice and Hemlock Lakes.
A long year later and, while we can see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, we still need to mask up and social distance. There is a lot more of the Genesee Country to see and we are again embarking on a series of hikes that will safely exercise the body, mind, and spirit. We hope you will join us out there.
The Genesee RiverWatch Team