Genesee RiverWatch

Summer Newsletter 2021

Dear Friends,

Summer is in full swing and will be over before we know it. Here at Genesee RiverWatch, we are taking advantage of the nice weather – making progress on improving water quality through streambank restoration and application of agricultural best management practices, hosting small paddles and improving access to the river. Please read on to hear about our first virtual Summit held in April and May along with other RiverWatch news.

As always, we look forward to your comments, feedback, and participation in virtual and in-person events throughout the year.

Sincerely,

  • Mike Haugh, President of the Board
  • George Thomas, Executive Director

7th Genesee River Basin “Virtual” Summit

Genesee RiverWatch organized our 7th Genesee River Basin Summit as a series of 90 minute Zoom workshops held in April and May. Over 125 people attended the four sessions that featured presentations followed by a lively question and answer period. If you missed them, recordings of each session are available on YouTube.

The topics were:

  • We Need Trees – A discussion of why streambank restoration and conservation projects drive the need for trees and what we can do about it.
  • What’s Going On? – A review of past, present and future water quality improvement projects developed and implemented by Genesee RiverWatch in partnership with various basin stakeholders.
  • Got Access? – Presenters discussed current improvement plans for car-top boat access to the Genesee River basin followed by questions and answers with a panel.
  • Let’s Plan a Canoe/Kayak Trip – Basin outfitters and stakeholder groups provided guidance and tips on how to plan your next trip on the river.

Streambank Restoration

Our work to improve water quality includes stabilizing and restoring streambanks and helping apply agricultural best management practices to reduce sediment and phosphorus loads to the river, slow the rate of erosion and subsequent loss of agricultural land and fertile topsoil. These projects also restore and improve wildlife habitat in the river by establishing riparian zones. We currently have several active projects along the Genesee River in Allegany and Livingston Counties and have provided updates below.

Mallards Dairy # 1/Town of Caneadea

Description – Restoration of 900 feet of river bank north of Belfast, NY.

Status – Construction completed in 2018.

Post-Construction Monitoring and Maintenance – A site inspection in May 2021 showed that the restoration was in good shape. It also showed, as expected, that about 30% of the trees we planted in the riparian zone survived. An event will be planned for this fall to plant live willow stakes in some portions of the riparian area.

Edelweiss Farms/Town of Hume

Description – Restoration of 1,800 feet of river bank north of Fillmore, NY.

Status – Construction completed in 2020.

Post-Construction Monitoring and Maintenance – A site inspection in May 2021 showed that the restoration was in good shape. It also showed, as expected, that about 35% of the trees we planted in the riparian zone survived. An event will be planned for this fall to plant live willow stakes in some portions of the riparian area.

Chamberlain Farm Project/ Town of Angelica

Description – Restoration of 2,900 feet of river bank north of Belmont, NY.

Status – Construction completed in 2020.

Post-Construction Monitoring and Maintenance – A site inspection in May 2021 showed that the restoration was in good shape. It also showed that beaver had eaten 20-25% of the willow stakes planted in the riparian zone. The beaver have been removed and an event will be planned for this fall to re-plant live willow stakes in some portion of the project. The event may also include planting 5 or 6 year old trees in the second bench of the toe wood construction. Learn more about the Chamberlain Farm Project.

Mallards Dairy #2/Town of Caneadea

Description – Restoration of 1,800 feet of river bank south of Houghton, NY.

Status – Construction will begin this fall. All of the stone and tree materials are on site ready for construction. Learn more about the Mallards Dairy # 2 Project.

Agricultural Best Management Practices Project/Livingston County

Genesee RiverWatch is working with the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District (LCS&WCD) to identify farm fields in the Jaycox Creek subwatershed that are candidates for application of agricultural best management practices to reduce erosion and soil loss. The primary practices that are considered are terraces, grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs), and underground outlets. The first project implemented in an 85-acre field on North Road east of Geneseo, NY includes the installation of 5 WASCOBs, 2,400 feet of underground drainage and 1,400 feet of grassed waterways. Construction started in October 2020 and will be complete in June 2021. Additional projects are being identified for 2021-2022 in partnership with LCS&WCD. Learn more about the Jaycox Creek Project.

River Events in 2021

Genesee RiverWatch has partnered with many organizations to encourage and enable exploration on and around the river. Our early summer paddles were a great success!

Genesee River Blueway Map: The Genesee River Blueway Map is available for use by canoeists and kayakers who wish to explore and connect with the river. Available as a downloadable overview map or an interactive map.

2021 Paddling Program: The summer paddle schedule with the Genesee Waterways Center is final and includes paddles to Red Creek and the Lower River. Dates are available each month through October.

Hiking: Enjoy the Genesee River Basin’s beauty on the many trails that follow the river and the shores of our lakes.  We have published nine suggested routes along the river and beside Hemlock and Canadice lakes.  Early this spring we added a new route on the seldom-seen east side of Letchworth State Park

Learn more about Events On and Around the River in 2021.

Canoe/Kayak Access Projects

Genesee RiverWatch is continuing to work with our partners toward improving access to the river for car-top boaters.

Avon/Geneseo – The US Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded Genesee RiverWatch a grant to upgrade canoe/kayak access sites on the Genesee River in Avon and Geneseo.

Houghton – Genesee River Wilds has recently reached an agreement with the Village of Houghton to create a new access site near their wastewater treatment plant. Work has started to grade the access road and parking lot. The site is expected to be available for this boating season. Genesee RiverWatch will provide Blueway signs and include the site on our interactive map.

Fillmore – Genesee River Wilds has been working to secure an official access site in Fillmore to take the place of the unofficial site that has been there for years. The current unofficial site was closed down by the new landowner recently. Genesee RiverWatch has assisted Genesee River Wilds by providing liaison with the owner of the property on the other side of the river from the old site. We expect to reach an agreement with that landowner soon to allow Allegany County to complete construction before this season is over. Genesee RiverWatch will provide Blueway signs and include the site on our interactive map.

NYSDEC Begins Genesee River Cleanup

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has begun dredging work to remove pockets of sediment contaminated with silver in the Genesee River below Lower Falls.

This work follows the recommendations of a corrective measures study, finalized in 2020, of the impact of chemicals released by Eastman Business Park on river water, sediments, fish, and other organisms.  The study and subsequent remediation work are being paid by the Kodak-Environmental Response Trust, initially funded during the Kodak bankruptcy process in 2012-13. Learn more.

Books About the Genesee River

In case you missed it, we have compiled a list of books about the Genesee River. Enjoy!

Thank you to our Supporters!

Our work is only made possible through our generous supporters. Thank you! If you would like to support our work, Get Involved!

Paddling the Genesee – an Early Summer Update

We are off to a great start this summer with record numbers joining us for guided paddles on the Genesee! Our next trip is scheduled for July 10th on the Lower River.  For more information and reservations, go to Summer Paddles on the Genesee | Genesee RiverWatch

River to Erie Canal via Black Creek Access

On the weekend of May 21st – 23rd, we partnered with Erie Canal Boat Company of Fairport to offer morning and afternoon paddles from the DEC dock on Black Creek.  This great location allowed 14 participants to travel the river north as far as the junction with the Erie Canal, or south through an area where wild riverbanks separate paddlers from sparse houses.  With wind on Sunday, we chose to explore the quiet, winding waters of Black Creek where we surprised heron and geese and paddled under the old culvert that carried the Genesee Valley Canal in the mid 1800’s and the later Genesee Valley Canal Railway.

Lower River via Petten Steet Access

On Memorial Day Weekend, we again partnered with Erie Canal Boat Company for three days of paddling from the new canoe/kayak dock at Petten Street, just south of Rochester’s harbor.  15 people joined us for a series of three-hour paddles upriver, reaching as far as Kings Landing.  Along the way we watched the annual river dredging operation, maintaining Rochester’s deep water channel, and enjoyed the unspoiled “wilderness in the city” upstream of Turning Point Park.

Genesee Waterways Center to Red Creek

On June 12th, we enjoyed the first of this summer’s monthly paddles with the Genesee Waterways Center.  In this case we traveled from the Waterways’ dock a short distance down the Genesee and up the Erie Canal to the quiet waters of Red Creek.  Here, with the brilliant green foliage reflecting in mirror-like waters, we found painted turtles, large families of geese and curious muskrats.  For beginning paddlers and people who love quiet natural surroundings, Red Creek is ideal.

Genesee River Wilds Annual Float Wellsville to Amity

On June 26th, we participated in Genesee River Wilds Annual Float from Wellsville to Amity.  This 8 mile stretch of the Upper River has just enough class 1-2 rapids to be interesting for experienced paddlers and navigable for the less experienced.  Nearly 100 kayakers and canoeists joined in the fun, ending with a food truck and music at the Amity River Access Site.  Genesee River Wilds is our sister organization, based in Allegany County, and working to protect the Upper River’s environment and build access sites that encourage use of the river.

Upcoming Paddles

The summer’s fun has just begun, join us for more paddle trips each month when we partner with the Waterways Center to offer canoe and kayak trips alternating between the Waterways Center/Red Creek and the Petten Street/Lower River “wilderness in the city“.  Our next trip is scheduled for July 10th on the Lower River.  For more information and reservations, go to Summer Paddles on the Genesee | Genesee RiverWatch

Summer Paddles on the Genesee

Join Genesee RiverWatch and the Genesee Waterways Center for a summer of paddling on the Genesee River.

Paddle to Red Creek

  • Saturday, June 12th, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Sunday, August 29th, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Join us for guided paddles of the river past Genesee Park and into the Erie Canal and Red Creek – a hidden gem abundant with wildlife, including great blue herons, kingfishers, painted turtles and more!   We will leave from, and return to, the Waterways Center off Elmwood Avenue.  Guides will describe the history of the Erie Canal as well as the 19th century Genesee Valley Canal and Genesee Valley Canal Railroad that paralleled the river.  Meet at the entrance to the Waterways Center, 149 Elmwood Avenue.

Paddle the Lower Genesee

  • Saturday, July 10th, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 12th, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 2nd, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. (Roc the Riverway Weekend)

Join us for guided paddles on the Lower Genesee.  We will leave from, and return to, the new, ADA compliant, canoe and kayak dock at the foot of Petten Street.  Enjoy a rare, water-level view of Turning Point Park and Rochester’s unique “wilderness in the city” hidden in the gorge of the Genesee.  Guides will describe the history of the Lower Genesee, including its role as a coal port and terminus of the Underground Railroad.  Meet in the parking lot at the river end of Petten Street off Lake Avenue.

Boat rental costs for all events are: canoe – $50, double kayak – $50, single kayak – $25.  Maximum two adults per canoe.  All children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.  Pre-registration required at  Genesee Waterways Center – Events & Registration.  (Look for “Community Paddles”.)  Call 585-328-3960 with questions.

NYSDEC Begins Genesee River Cleanup

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has begun dredging work to remove pockets of sediment contaminated with silver in the Genesee River below Lower Falls.

This work follows the recommendations of a corrective measures study, finalized in 2020, of the impact of chemicals released by Eastman Business Park on river water, sediments, fish, and other organisms.  The study and subsequent remediation work are being paid by the Kodak-Environmental Response Trust, initially funded during the Kodak bankruptcy process in 2012-13.

Remediation work is being conducted in three areas shown on the map below, according to the following schedule:

  • Dredging work in Wetland C (pink shaded area on the east side of Turning Basin) began on June 1st and will continue until mid-July.  Backfilling will extend into late August and restoration planting of this area is expected to be complete by October 30th.
  • Dredging in Areas of Concern (AOC) #1 (green) and #2 (orange) will begin in late July and continue to late September.  Capping of these sites will be done between late September and early November.
  • The project staging area at Kings Landing (KLWWTP on the map) will be restored by December 1st.

Approximately 25,000 cubic yards of sediment will be removed from these areas, transferred to shore at Kings Landing, and disposed of off-site.  Clean fill, meeting an ecological use standard, will be brought in and used to restore the dredged wetland areas to their original grades.  Total cost of the project is estimated at $8.3 million.

Boaters should observe any navigational aids placed to direct them around the work areas.  Access to the Genesee Riverway Trail on the west side of the river will not be affected.

The DEC assesses the Lower Genesee water quality as “Impaired”, saying that it is “suitable for public bathing, general recreation use and support of aquatic life, but not as a water supply”.  You can find out more at WI/PWL Fact Sheets – Lower Genesee Watershed (0413000307) (ny.gov).  The New York State Department of Health publishes advisories on eating fish caught in the state.  These advisories vary depending on species, size, and location.  See Fish: Health Advice on Eating Fish You Catch (ny.gov) for more information.

For further information on the DEC’s studies of the impact of Eastman Business Park on the Genesee and the cleanup plan, go to Eastman Business Park (Kodak) – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

Project staging area at Kings Landing

Dredging Operation at Wetland C (east side of Turning Basin)

2021 Genesee River Basin “Virtual” Summit – Recordings Available

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 organized our 7th “Summit” as a series of four online workshops held in April and May.

The workshops were recorded and are available for viewing using the links below.

# 1: We Need Trees

April 7, 2021 at 8:30 – 10:00 am

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 might be interested: Those interested in understanding the relationship between conservation projects and climate action.

TopicTimePresenterDescription
What drives the need?      20 minutesGeorge Thomas, Genesee RiverWatchIntroduction 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 sequestration25 minutesJoseph Makarewicz, Genesee RiverWatchDiscussion of how Genesee RiverWatch decided to adopt a Carbon Neutral Policy.
Crowdsourcing Trees      25 minutesMichael 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 Discussion20 minutesAllQuestions & Answers  

#2: What’s Going On?

April 14, 2021, 8:30 to 10:00 am

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 might be interested: Those interested in water quality improvement projects on the Genesee River.

TopicTimePresenterDescription
Past Projects  20 minutesPete Lent, Genesee RiverWatchReview of three completed streambank restoration projects in Caneadea, Angelica, and Fillmore, NY totaling over 5,700 linear feet.
Present Projects    20 minutesGeorge Thomas, Genesee RiverWatchUpdate 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 minutesScott 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 Discussion20 minutesAllQuestions & Answers  

# 3: Got Access?

May 5, 2021, 8:30 to 10:00 am

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 might be interested: Those interested in canoeing or kayaking on the Genesee River whether or not they have their own boat.

TopicTimePresenterDescription
Genesee River Canoe/Kayak Access Plan  25 minutesGeorge 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 minutesThomas Rhett, Genesee River WildsStory behind Fillmore site: A look at what it takes to get a new site established.
City of Rochester  25 minutesMichael Haugh & Charlie Valeska, Genesee RiverWatchUpdate on new access site near Petten Street. Review of investigations into new sites at Maplewood Park and Seneca Park.
Panel Discussion15 minutesAllQuestion and Answers  

#4: Let’s Plan a Canoe/Kayak Trip

May 12, 2021, 8:30 to 10:00 am

Topic: Presentations by basin outfitters and stakeholder groups on how to plan your next trip on the river.

Who might be interested: Those interested in planning a canoe or kayak trip on the Genesee River.

TopicTimePresenterDescription
Genesee River Blueway Map20 minutesGeorge Thomas & Wayne Howard, Genesee RiverWatchIntroduction to our interactive Genesee River Blueway map. How to use it. Interesting and useful features.
Who can help me?    30 minutesPeter 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 minutesThomas Rhett, Genesee River Wilds; Ben Gajewski, Genesee Valley Conservancy; Michael Haugh, Genesee RiverWatchDescription and details of presenters’ favorite trips on the various portions of the whole river from Pennsylvania to the Port of Rochester.  
Panel Discussion10 minutesAllQuestion & Answers  

Seeking Nominations for Environmental Leadership Awards

Genesee RiverWatch is seeking nominations of individuals, organizations, projects, or events for its Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Awards. The Awards are given to recognize significant contributions to our Mission of “championing solutions that improve the water quality of the Genesee and initiatives that connect people to the River”. Nominations are due by June 30, 2021 for review and selection by the Board of Directors of Genesee RiverWatch.

Nominees will have have demonstrated success in (1) improving the water quality of the Genesee River Basin; (2) creating environmental, recreational, and economic assets for their communities; and/or (3) connecting people to the river by encouraging them to explore, experience, and celebrate the river.

A separate category of the awards recognizes volunteers whose work on behalf of Genesee RiverWatch has significantly aided us in furthering our Mission.

The awards are given in honor of Elizabeth Thorndike, longtime supporter of Genesee RiverWatch and one of the founders of its predecessor organization, the Center for Environmental Information.

Past Award recipients have included:

  • The Oatka Creek Watershed Committee
  • Seneca Park Zoo
  • City of Rochester
  • Genesee Headwaters Watershed Association
  • Kaeti Stoss/Delta Environmental
  • Mallards Dairy
  • Volunteers: Chris Widmaier and Juliana Lanz.

Nominations are due by June 30, 2021 (see instructions on form).

In recognition of the current health advisories, Genesee RiverWatch plans to videotape the selected awardees and their work for presentation on its website, on YouTube and in selected media outlets.

May Weekend Paddles

Genesee RiverWatch and Erie Canal Boat Company are partnering to offer guided river paddles over two weekends in late May.  Erie Canal Boat Company will provide rental kayaks as described below.  Genesee RiverWatch will accompany paddlers to describe the river’s history, point out interesting sites and discuss current work to improve water quality, encourage recreation and promote K-12 aquatic education.

May 21-23 Black Creek

Join us to paddle the Genesee River starting at the DEC dock on Black Creek.  Choose a day and time when making your reservation. We will leave at 9:00 and 1:00 each day and explore up the river past RIT or downstream to the junction with the Erie Canal.  Learn about the Genesee Valley Canal and the railroad that ran on its towpath.  Directions: Turn west off Scottsville Road onto Ballantyne Road.  Turn right and right again on Black Creek Road to the boat launch parking area.

May 28-30 Lower River

The new City of Rochester launch site at Petten Street will be our gateway to explore the “wilderness in a city” between Rochester’s harbor and Lower Falls.  Choose a day and time when making your reservation. As before, we will leave at 9:00 and 1:00 each day.  Interesting historical sites will include the Underground Railroad and the cross-lake ferry and coal shipping docks.  Directions: Turn off Lake Avenue onto Petten Street and follow the street downhill to the parking area adjacent to the river.

Reservations: 

All participants must make advance reservations on the Erie Canal Boat Company website at WNY&Finger Lakes POP-UPs | Erie Canal Boat Company.  Choose your location, date and type of kayak. There will be 12 single-seat kayaks available for each trip.  Boat types will be a mix of 9′, 10′ and 11′ lengths with sit in and sit-on models.  Life vests and paddles are included.  The price will be $25.00 + tax for each boat/session.

What you need to bring:  A mask for use in case you are in close proximity to others at times such as launching and returning.  Clothing suitable for the day’s weather and the possibility of getting wet.  A hat and sunscreen (even if the day is cloudy).  Waterproof bags for items such as cameras, phones, car keys, drinks and snacks.

2021 Genesee River Basin “Virtual” 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. 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.

# 1: We Need Trees

April 7, 2021 at 8:30 – 10:00 am

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.

TopicTimePresenterDescription
What drives the need?      20 minutesGeorge Thomas, Genesee RiverWatchIntroduction 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 sequestration25 minutesJoseph Makarewicz, Genesee RiverWatchDiscussion of how Genesee RiverWatch decided to adopt a Carbon Neutral Policy.
Crowdsourcing Trees      25 minutesMichael 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 Discussion20 minutesAllQuestions & Answers  

#2: What’s Going On?

April 14, 2021, 8:30 to 10:00 am

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.

TopicTimePresenterDescription
Past Projects  20 minutesPete Lent, Genesee RiverWatchReview of three completed streambank restoration projects in Caneadea, Angelica, and Fillmore, NY totaling over 5,700 linear feet.
Present Projects    20 minutesGeorge Thomas, Genesee RiverWatchUpdate 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 minutesScott 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 Discussion20 minutesAllQuestions & Answers  

# 3: Got Access?

May 5, 2021, 8:30 to 10:00 am

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.

TopicTimePresenterDescription
Genesee River Canoe/Kayak Access Plan  25 minutesGeorge 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 minutesThomas Rhett, Genesee River WildsStory behind Fillmore site: A look at what it takes to get a new site established.
City of Rochester  25 minutesMichael Haugh & Charlie Valeska, Genesee RiverWatchUpdate on new access site near Petten Street. Review of investigations into new sites at Maplewood Park and Seneca Park.
Panel Discussion15 minutesAllQuestion and Answers  

#4: Let’s Plan a Canoe/Kayak Trip

May 12, 2021, 8:30 to 10:00 am

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.

TopicTimePresenterDescription
Genesee River Blueway Map20 minutesGeorge Thomas & Wayne Howard, Genesee RiverWatchIntroduction to our interactive Genesee River Blueway map. How to use it. Interesting and useful features.
Who can help me?    30 minutesPeter 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 minutesThomas Rhett, Genesee River Wilds; Ben Gajewski, Genesee Valley Conservancy; Michael Haugh, Genesee RiverWatchDescription and details of presenters’ favorite trips on the various portions of the whole river from Pennsylvania to the Port of Rochester.  
Panel Discussion10 minutesAllQuestion & Answers  

Winter Newsletter 2021

Dear Friends,

Winter is often a time of planning as we await spring and a chance to get back to the River. This year is no different as we look forward to a productive 2021 and hopefully a return to “normalcy”. There is much to do – including improving water quality through streambank restoration and application of agricultural best management practices, engaging our stakeholders with a virtual “Summit”, continuing our work to connect to the River by improving access and hosting small paddles, and facilitating the aquatic education of our children.

Our work is only made possible through our generous supporters. Our Year-End Appeal was very successful. The number of people making donations increased 230% and the total contributions from the drive rose 266% to over $5,000! THANK YOU to all who gave!

As always, we look forward to your comments, feedback and participation in virtual and in-person events throughout the year.

Sincerely,

  • Mike Haugh, President of the Board
  • George Thomas, Executive Director

Newest Board Member

Genesee RiverWatch has an active volunteer Board of Directors. We are happy to welcome our newest member, Charlie Bares. Charlie owns and operates Mallards Dairy in Cuba, NY. He has worked closely with Genesee RiverWatch on streambank restoration projects along the Genesee River in Allegany County. Charlie lives in Ellicottville, NY with his wife and two children. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Cornell University.

Streambank Restoration

Our work to improve water quality includes stabilizing and restoring streambanks and application of agricultural best management practices to reduce sediment and phosphorus loads to the river, slow the rate of erosion and subsequent loss of agricultural land and fertile topsoil. These projects also restore and improve wildlife habitat in the river by establishing riparian zones. We currently have several active projects along the Genesee River in Allegany and Livingston Counties.

Edelweiss Farms/Town of Hume Project Report:

The final report for the Edelweiss Farms Streambank Restoration Project near Fillmore, NY in the Town of Hume is now available. The work stabilized 1,980 linear feet of un-buffered agricultural field on the Upper Genesee River, established a riparian zone on the river bank and improved fish and wildlife habitat. We estimate that the restoration stopped the loss of 0.67 acres of fertile agricultural land each year, reduced sediment flowing into the Genesee by 7,300 tons per year and cut the amount of algae-promoting phosphorus entering the river by 4,800 pounds per year.

Chamberlain Farm Project/ Town of Angelica Update:

Genesee RiverWatch partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to stabilize and restore 2,950 linear feet of un-buffered agricultural field along the east bank of the Genesee River south of Belfast in the Town of Angelica, New York at Chamberlain Farm. This project was funded by $523,000 from the Kodak Environmental Response Trust. The project design emphasized the use of bioengineering techniques known as “toe wood” construction, new to the Genesee River. This approach utilizes tree root balls and trunks in an inter-linked structure to stabilize the streambank, reduce erosion and enhance wildlife habitat. 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. Learn more about the Chamberlain Farm Project.

Mallards Dairy #2/Town of Caneadea Project:

Genesee RiverWatch has funding from the Great Lakes Commission ($197K) 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. Learn more about the Mallards Dairy # 2 Project.

Agricultural Best Management Practices Project/Livingston County

Genesee RiverWatch is working with the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District (LCS&WCD) to identify farm fields in the Jaycox Creek subwatershed that are candidates for application of agricultural best management practices to reduce erosion and soil loss. The primary practices that are considered are terraces, grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs), and underground outlets. The first project implemented involves an 85-acre field east of Geneseo, NY and includes the installation of 5 WASCOBs, 2,400 feet of underground drainage and 1,400 feet of grassed waterways. Construction started in October 2020. Additional projects are being identified for 2021 in partnership with LCS&WCD. Learn more about the Jaycox Creek Project.

7th Genesee River Basin Summit Goes Virtual

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 online workshops to be held in April. The topics will be:

  • Got Access? – Presenters will discuss current improvement plans for car-top boat access to the Genesee River basin followed by questions and answers with a panel.
  • Let’s Plan a Canoe/Kayak Trip – Basin outfitters and stakeholder groups will provide guidance and tips on how to plan your next trip on the river.
  • We Need Trees – A look at the growing need for trees for conservation projects and what can be done to satisfy that need. Additionally, the carbon sequestration implications will be discussed.
  • What’s Going On? – A review of past, present and future water quality improvement projects developed and implemented by Genesee RiverWatch in partnership with various basin stakeholders.

On and Around the River Events in 2021

Genesee RiverWatch has partnered with many organizations to encourage and enable exploration on and around the river. Here is a summary of 2021 events.

Genesee River Blueway Map: Genesee RiverWatch in collaboration with Genesee River Wilds, and the Genesee Valley Conservancy launched the new Genesee River Blueway Map in August last year.  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.

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.

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 with Erie Canal Boat Company at the Black Creek DEC dock (May 21-23) and the new Petten Street dock (May 28-30).  This year’s canoeing program with the Genesee Waterways Center will see public paddles each month from June through October on either the lower river (Petten Street) or the Erie Canal.  Stay tuned for more details.

Lower River Cruises: Those of you who joined us on one of the lower river cruises on the Harbor Town Belle in the summer of 2019 may remember them as wonderful experience exploring our “wilderness in the City”.  Due to the pandemic, we will not be offering the cruises in 2021. Here’s hoping for 2022.

Learn more about Events On and Around the River in 2021.

Facilitating Aquatic Education – Virtual Field Studies

The Aquatic Education Network gathered educators virtually on December 10, 2020 to discuss strategies that 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 in a bus and head to the nearest waterway. The December meeting generated numerous ideas to engage students in the essential elements of a field study in remote and hybrid learning environments.

The conversation covered:

  • Identifying the basic elements of a high quality remote field study
  • Safely engaging students in data collection
  • Creatively providing students with materials

Learn more by viewing the Meeting Summary.

Books About the Genesee River

We have compiled a list of books about the Genesee River. Enjoy!

Events On and Around the River in 2021

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.