The Genesee River and You

Genesee RiverWatch is devoted to creating “a healthy and sustainable Genesee River ecosystem that is an environmental, recreational and economic asset for all generations.” In so doing, we work to both protect the river and promote its use as a physical, intellectual, and emotional resource. For us to continue this work, we need your support. Please visit our website and invest $100, $250 – or an amount of your choosing – in Genesee RiverWatch as a part of your year-end giving plan.

In our various communications during the year, we tell you about the issues confronting the Genesee River and the actions that Genesee RiverWatch is taking – with your help – to address those issues and to protect, preserve and enhance the river.    As the New Year approaches, we think it is time to take stock of the ways in which all of us, and our loved ones, can take advantage of this community asset to enrich our lives and get a real payback on the support that we provide to Genesee RiverWatch and its partner organizations.

Recreation

If you prefer active sports, the Genesee is a wonderful river to paddle in a kayak or canoe. Upstream of Letchworth State Park the river flows through forest and farmland with occasional white water stretches in reasonable water levels that most novices can navigate. Since the river in this area rises and falls rapidly with snow melt and rainstorms, it is best to keep an eye on the USGS gauges at Wellsville and Portageville when deciding on a trip. Having others with you will make the trip more fun as well as safer. Below the Mt. Morris dam, the river is slower and less subject to fluctuations in depth, yet equally lovely and relaxing. The river below Lower Falls in Rochester surprises paddlers with its feeling of wilderness in the midst of the city. If you don’t have access to a kayak or need a starter lesson, watch for our announcement of the 2023 public paddling program and join us next summer. If you have your own boat, you can find both printable and interactive maps of the river’s access sites on our website at Genesee RiverWatch – Publications.

Fishing the Genesee is another great way to enjoy the river. Seasonal salmon runs on the lower river offer the opportunity to catch very large fish practically in your own back yard with no more investment than a rod and lure. Near the southern end of the river, the Wellsville Trout Derby will be held on April 21-23, 2023. The 2022 edition of the Derby saw a 10-year-old boy win the grand prize of nearly $3,400! River access sites between these points provide opportunities to catch Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, and Catfish.

Letchworth State Park


If you have not spent time in Letchworth Park, you are missing one of the great park experiences in the East. Hiking and camping opportunities abound and cover a range of difficulty from easy to strenuous. Opportunities for serious nature study and guided walks abound. In addition, seasonal white water rafting and hot air balloon rides over the river are unique in this region. If you go to Letchworth to hike, be sure to get down to river level at Lees Landing or St. Helena and don’t ignore the little-used trails on the east side of the Genesee, accessed via the Parade Grounds Entrance off Route 436.  

A Better Understanding of Our World


All along the river, from Gold, Pennsylvania to the lighthouse in Rochester Harbor, the Genesee offers opportunities to see history, geology, botany, and environmental sciences at first hand.   If history is your interest, you can look up such topics as the Genesee River Canal (mentioned above), Mary Jemison, Seth Green, the Port of Rochester, Kelsey’s Landing, and the Underground Railroad. Read their chronicles, then walk or paddle the river to see the actual sites where these events happened.   For a visual record of many of these subjects, the Stone Collection of photographs available on the Rochester Public Library’s website (Monroe County Library System), provide a wonderful record of what many of the sites looked like in the early 20th Century.  

For those interested in geology and the impacts of glaciers, the river’s banks, the cliffs in Rochester and Letchworth, and the Genesee’s magnificent falls offer dramatic, first-hand demonstrations of the processes that have formed our earth.   To better understand the botany of the Genesee Region, check out the Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth and the Seneca Park Zoo for their programs and summer camp experiences focused on botany and environment.  

These are just a few of the more obvious ways in which we can take advantage of the amazing resource that is our Genesee River.  Perhaps you and your friends have additional ideas and experiences that you would like to share. If so, let us know so that we can add them to future communications and to the Genesee RiverWatch website.   If you have not yet done so, please make a donation to RiverWatch so that we can continue our valuable work.

We wish you a happy, healthy New Year and look forward to seeing you in 2023!

Happy Holidays from Genesee RiverWatch

The holiday season is busy with parties, decorating, religious services, shopping for loved ones, houseguests, travels both near and far – the myriad of things that are both pleasurable and challenging at the same time.  Like you, we need to remind ourselves to occasionally pause the race and take time to appreciate the season and the riches that surround us. Set aside some time for a walk outside, pick up a cup of coffee and drive to a favorite scenic spot, or enjoy the lights and decorations in the neighborhood.
 
In our case, we believe Oliver Wendell Holmes’ idea that, “A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure”. Even in winter, the expanse of the frozen Genesee and the quiet of the woods and fields bordering it slows the heart rate and stills the mind.  

If you need ideas for ways to enjoy the Genesee, here on our website you can explore some of our hiking suggestions (Genesee Watershed Hiking Ideas | Genesee RiverWatch) or look over our gallery of river photos (Gallery | Genesee RiverWatch).   While on our website, please make a donation to our Year End Appeal so that we can continue our important work. Your support is appreciated and what makes everything that we do for the river possible.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season from your friends at Genesee RiverWatch!

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!

Genesee RiverWatch Carbon Neutral Policy

Genesee RiverWatch Inc.

Carbon Neutral Policy – Construction  Projects

Adopted February 9, 2021

Policy Statement

Download PDF

As a leading environmental organization in western New York, Genesee RiverWatch supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2020 (CLCPA) and will take tangible steps to help realize the Act’s carbon reduction goals.  

Accordingly, 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.

Policy Implementation Guidelines

  1. This policy will apply to all construction projects, including those on the Genesee Main Stem and tributaries.
  2. This policy will apply to all construction methods employed, including “rock rip-rap”, “toe-wood” and other methods not yet employed as of the adoption of this policy.
  3. Since trees are the most productive terrestrial vegetation able to absorb carbon and they have the greatest potential for keeping that carbon out of the atmosphere long term, GRW will strive to plant trees to offset carbon sequestration losses and carbon releases during construction.  Offset projects utilizing trees have the further advantage of enhancing carbon sequestration long after this policy’s ten-year horizon.  Other vegetation, such as alfalfa, may be used but is not preferred.
  4. Offset activities will be undertaken within, or immediately adjacent to, the Genesee River watershed.
  5. Offset activities must be verifiable and permanent and represent new, additional sequestration of carbon that would not otherwise have occurred.
  6. Offset activities must be designed in a manner that does not disproportionately harm disadvantaged communities.
  7. Analysis of carbon sequestration losses, new carbon releases and carbon offset activities will be based on a model of each project and will be reviewed and agreed upon by the Operations Committee of GRW which will also ensure that the offsets are robust, credible, and verifiable.  
  8. During the planning stage of project development, GRW will ensure that post-construction offset activities are agreed upon, included in appropriate contracts wherever possible, and adequately funded to ensure that they are initiated and completed.  
  9. By sharing our experiences, Genesee RiverWatch will encourage others to adopt a carbon neutral policy. 
  10. A waiver in the carbon neutrality policy due to extenuating circumstances of a given project is allowable with approval of the GRW Board.

Policy Background

Climate change is a major and growing concern, not only in the United States, but across the entire planet.  It is impacting the current generation and will increasingly affect future generations.  Climate change,  is in part, caused by the accumulation of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere.  According to NOAA, carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years (409.8 parts per million in 2019 compared to 300 ppm 400,000 years ago).   The addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is not inconsequential.  Global emissions from all human activities reached an all-time record of 45 billion tons in 2017 and continue to rise. 

New York’s New Mandate: Net Zero Emissions:

As a result of these elevated carbon emissions and their global impact on climate change, New York has enacted new legislation to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere.   New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) went into effect on January 1, 2020.   The CLCPA commits New York to a 40% reduction of carbon emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. Highlights are as follows:

  1. The CLCPA commits New York to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions. This mandate covers all sectors of the economy and includes electricity and fuels that are imported from other states.
  2. The bill requires 40 percent emission reductions in absolute terms from 1990 levels by 2030 and 85 percent emissions reductions by 2050.
  3. To reach the target of net zero emissions, the CLCPA allows for any remaining emissions beyond 85 percent to either be directly reduced or offset through projects that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  1. The offsets must be verifiable and permanent and represent new, additional reductions in emissions that would not otherwise have occurred. The only emissions that are eligible to be offset are those where it is technologically infeasible to reduce the emissions by other means.
  2. The offset program must be designed in a manner that does not disproportionately harm disadvantaged communities. 
  3. To the greatest extent practicable, offset projects must be located within 25 miles of the source they are offsetting, ensuring that the benefits of offsetting emissions will be locally realized.
  4. The Governor’s climate goals under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act indicate that forest trees are a critically vital resource for reducing total emission levels through carbon sequestration.  Forests are the most productive terrestrial vegetation able to absorb carbon from carbon dioxide, and they have the greatest potential for keeping that carbon out of the atmosphere long term. 

The Importance of Trees in Carbon Sequestration

A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range. The primary greenhouse gases in earth’s atmosphere are water vapor (H₂O), carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄), nitrous oxide (N₂O), and ozone (O₃).   Greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect and are a primary cause of global warming.  Specifically, carbon dioxide molecules in the air absorb infrared radiation, warming the atmosphere and creating a carbon dioxide blanket in our atmosphere which prevents the radiation of heat.  

Carbon sequestration is the process by which atmospheric carbon dioxide is taken up by trees, grasses, and other plants through photosynthesis and stored as carbon in biomass (trunks, branches, foliage, and roots) and soils.  Forests are carbon sinks and play a major role in the carbon cycle within the earth’s atmosphere.  Carbon absorption ceases when trees are cut down, allowing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide to build up in the atmosphere. The greater the number of trees removed, the greater the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  Thus, cutting down large numbers of trees is a concern as it contributes to the warming of the earth. 

The Concern:   How should Genesee RiverWatch respond?

Genesee RiverWatch has encouraged “toe-wood” construction as a technique to stabilize eroding streambanks.   For example, the Chamberlain Project originally proposed cutting ~120 mature trees to be the foundation for “toe wood” construction rather than the “rock rip-rap” construction used in previous RiverWatch projects.  The “toe wood” construction approach should stabilize streambanks, add aquatic habitat, and provide streambank protection where it is needed.  The “rock rip-rap” approach provides stability and streambank protection but lacks aquatic habitat development and may be less aesthetically desirable.  However, the removal of 120 mature trees required for the “toe wood” construction represents ~90 tons of carbon that will not be removed from the atmosphere over a 10-year period. Thus, GRW is implementing a project that will increase the amount of a greenhouse gas directly implicated in causing global climate change.   Carbon sequestration by trees is an ecosystem service impacted by “toe-wood” construction.  Even “rip-rap” construction during the construction period contributes large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere via fossil fuel burning due to excavators, trucks hauling rocks, etc.   In view of the global warming crisis and the enactment of the NYS Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, is it justifiable to support “toe wood” and “rip-rap” construction without mitigation?   Rip-rap construction has no effect on greenhouse gases after the first year of the project is completed.  Toe wood’s carbon impact continues indefinitely unless some concrete action is undertaken to replace sequestration losses.

Recommendation

As a leading environmental organization in our region, Genesee RiverWatch should set an example of climate responsibility.  Therefore, it is recommended that the Carbon Neutrality Policy be adopted for all future streambank restoration projects. 

Fall Newsletter 2022

Dear Friends and Supporters:

As we approach the end of the year, our team at Genesee RiverWatch invites you to read an update on our progress to “protect and celebrate the river”. We’ve had a great summer with news of generous funding for 2023 streambank restoration projects, a successful summer paddling program and commitments to improve access to the river. We couldn’t do any of this work without our superb volunteer Board of Directors and the help of our supporters.  Thank you for YOUR support.

Sincerely,

Mike Haugh, President of the Board

George Thomas, Executive Director

Paddling the Genesee

2022 Season Report and 2023 Outlook

Once again, the leaves on the trees bordering our river have given us their brilliant fall display of reds, golds, and deep greens.  However, the chill winds raising wavelets on the water are a reminder that this year’s paddling season has come to an end, and it is time to recall the year’s high points and make plans for 2023.

As in summers past, in 2022 Genesee RiverWatch partnered with the Genesee Waterways Center and the City of Rochester to offer a program of public paddles on the lower river.  With COVID coming under better control and taking lessons from prior years, we made several changes to the program.  This year we offered 5 monthly events from June 11th through October 2nd.  These included two events, designed for both novice and experienced  paddlers, which started from the Waterways Center and paddled up the secluded waters of Red Creek.  This route is protected from winds and most boating traffic, making it a great place to learn or refresh paddling skills.  

Two additional events were limited to paddlers with intermediate+ experience and launched from the new ADA dock on the harbor at Petten Street.  We travelled upstream past the historical sights at Turning Point Park and into the area we have termed the “wilderness in the city” before returning to Petten Street.

Crowning the season was the October 2nd ROC the Riverway Weekend paddle.  We gathered at Petten Street, took a city van upriver to Seth Green Park, and paddled the full five mile stretch of the Genesee back to the harbor.  We had a brisk but dry fall day to watch fishermen at Lower Falls land a huge salmon, see the Underground Railroad terminus at Kelsey’s Landing, and learn about other pre-Erie Canal river villages including Carthage and Kings Landing, as well as the industrial history of the coal and cement terminals at Turning Point Park.

Over the course of the summer, 34 people participated in the program, several of them coming on multiple dates.  In addition, our tours were joined by a number of paddlers who had their own kayaks and wanted to enjoy a day on the river while learning more about its history and RiverWatch activities.

Looking forward to 2023 and beyond, our plans will continue to be guided by the idea that there is no substitute for experiencing the Genesee from water level.  Thus, we want to increase the number of available paddling dates, add new sections of the river to paddle, create more opportunities for individuals and families who do not know how to paddle to learn the sport, and find ways to incorporate K-12 educational experiences in the program.  

Streambank Restoration

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

Babbitt’s Farm – Genesee River

Recently we received notification from the Great Lakes Commission of a $200,000 grant award that includes a $50,000 in-kind match by the landowner, Babbitt’s Farm. This project will reduce phosphorus and sediment loads to the Genesee River Basin by stabilizing 850 feet of a highly eroded streambank, restoring the riparian zone, and installing river training structures to prevent further erosion at the site and downstream affecting 2,250 feet of riverbed. The landowner has lost over two acres of land in the last four years and the rate is accelerating.

Work will begin early next year with a site survey and pre-construction meeting with the Department of Environmental  Conservation and the US Army Corps of Engineers. We expect to begin construction in the second half of 2023.

Oatka Creek – Tributary to Genesee River

New York Sea Grant has awarded Genesee RiverWatch a $48,400 grant to identify, design, install, and evaluate three options to restore eroded streambanks and/or prevent erosion on Oatka Creek using bio-engineering techniques that create aquatic and riparian habitat. These techniques will make maximum use of materials and equipment available on-site and minimize purchased materials and equipment from off-site locations. We will be partnering with the Oatka Creek Watershed Committee and the Genesee Country Village and Museum.

It is expected that the results of this demonstration project will lead to application of the techniques developed on other stream segments in the Genesee River watershed. Our mission is to champion solutions that improve the water quality of the Genesee and initiatives that connect people to the River. The Genesee River watershed has many tributaries and sections of the main stem that could utilize the techniques developed and demonstrated by this project on Oatka Creek.

2022 Genesee River Basin 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. Our 8th “Summit” was a series of four online workshops held in May. The presentations and online recordings are now available.

Presentations and Online Recordings

We are looking for feedback as we plan for our 2023 Summit. Here is a link to a quick survey (5 min or less): SURVEY

Quick notes:

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.

Latest Grant Approval

The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation/Sustain Our Great Lakes has approved our Rush Creek Riparian Restoration proposal. The grant is for $212.5K, with $245.2K of matching work by Allegany County and Allegany County S&WCD, for a total project of $457.7K. This project will stabilize and re-direct the flow of Rush Creek to prevent erosion on the creek and avoid undermining our Edelweiss project where the creek meets the river. 

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. Working with our partners, several projects are in the works. A grant was just approved for $87K to improve boating access sites in Avon and Geneseo. Stay tuned for updates in 2023 including projects in Fillmore and Houghton.

Georgiana Prince Retires from Board

Thank you to Georgiana Prince for your 20+ years of contribution to the important work of CEI and Genesee RiverWatch!  Our all-volunteer Board of Directors is the reason Genesee RiverWatch exists!

Liz Thorndike, Georgiana Prince, Mike Haugh

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.  Please keep Genesee RiverWatch in your plans for 2022 year end donations and, if possible, increase your support so that we can cover not only current inflation but also the increased tempo of work planned for next year.

This year, two local businesses have recognized the contributions of Genesee RiverWatch and partnered with their customers to raise money for Genesee RiverWatch.

We thank the Orvis Company for featuring Genesee RiverWatch in their “Great Giveback Days” promotion last May.  This generous program offered a $10 Orvis donation to RiverWatch for every purchase of at least $10 at their Pittsford Plaza store.  The partnership between Orvis and its customers resulted in a terrific donation of $4,155 in support of our work on the Genesee River!

Heroes Brewing Co. is now offering “160 Lifeline”, a Coconut Cream Ale created especially for Genesee RiverWatch in reference to the 160 miles the Genesee River flows from Gold, PA, to Rochester and in celebration of it being the lifeline of Rochester. We hope you’ll stop by their location at 543 Atlantic Avenue (open Wednesdays-Saturdays) and give “160 Lifeline” a try. It’s available on tap and also as a four-pack. The best part? One dollar from the sale of every four-pack of “160 Lifeline” will go to Genesee RiverWatch as a way for Heroes Brewing to help support our organization. 

Seeking Your Support for 2023

Our Year End Appeal

Please consider investing $100, $250 – or an amount of your choosing – in Genesee RiverWatch as a part of your year-end giving plan as we continue our work to improve the water quality of the Genesee River and its tributaries and to connect people to the river. Our approach to this work is based on core values established over 40 years ago and include a commitment to inform and educate, to base our actions on science and data and to collaborate with others.  Regardless of geographical boundaries, charters, or funding sources, RiverWatch and its partners share the common vision of “a healthy and sustainable Genesee River ecosystem that is an environmental, recreational, and economic asset for all generations”.

2022 Genesee RiverWatch Accomplishments

  • Completed restoration of 1,800 feet of eroded streambank near the Village of Houghton.  This $316K project was funded by a $197K grant from the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) and $119K of matching funds provided by Mallards Dairy, LLC, the property owner.  Planting of willow stakes to stabilize the upper bank was done by a team of RiverWatch volunteers in April.
  • Offered five public paddling events on the Genesee between June and October.  The partnership of RiverWatch with the City of Rochester and the Genesee Waterways Center allowed 34 people to experience two of the most beautiful segments of our river at Red Creek and the Turning Point Park area.
  • Continued our annual series of Genesee River Basin Summits with four Zoom-based programs held weekly in May.  The recordings of these sessions are now available on our “Official Genesee RiverWatch Channel” on YouTube.  For 2023, we plan to resume holding these Summits in person so that attendees will have the opportunity to interact with each other – a feature of the programs that was extremely valuable in the years before COVID.
  • Partnered with the Livingston County Soil & Water Conservation District in an on-going $251K program, funded by the Great Lakes Commission, to implement agricultural best management practices along the Jaycox Creek tributary of the Genesee.  Started in 2021, this program brought funding to the region that would not otherwise have been available and has allowed Livingston County to complete four projects – along with one on-going project – that are dramatically reducing soil loss and sediment flows into the Main Stem of the Genesee.

Staff shortages at granting agencies during the pandemic slowed the approval of several our funding requests.  However, over the past two months four major grants have been approved for work in 2023 and 2024:  $250K for streambank stabilization near Caneadea, NY, $458K for improvement of Rush Creek near Fillmore, $48K to develop innovative streambank restoration techniques on Oatka Creek at the Genesee Country Village & Museum, and $87K to improve boating access sites in Avon and Geneseo.

Your donations to Genesee RiverWatch make the work of developing these projects and conducting these events possible.  While agency grants may pay for the actual project work, only your support allows us to identify the places where work is most needed, connect with landowners to get their agreement, and perform the engineering studies to determine project costs and develop the designs that accompany grant applications.  Please go to our website and invest $100, $250 – or an amount of your choosing – in Genesee RiverWatch as a part of your year-end giving plan.

Sincerely,

The Genesee RiverWatch Team

Paddling the Genesee

2022 Season Report and 2023 Outlook 

Once again, the leaves on the trees bordering our river have given us their brilliant fall display of reds, golds, and deep greens.  However, the chill winds raising wavelets on the water are a reminder that this year’s paddling season has come to an end, and it is time to recall the year’s high points and make plans for 2023.

As in summers past, for 2022 Genesee RiverWatch partnered with the Genesee Waterways Center and the City of Rochester to offer a program of public paddles on the lower river.  With COVID coming under better control and taking lessons from prior years, we made several changes to the program:  This year we offered 5 monthly events from June 11th through October 2nd.  These included two events, designed for both novice and experienced  paddlers, which started from the Waterways Center and paddled up the secluded waters of Red Creek.  This route is protected from winds and most boating traffic, making it a great place to learn or refresh paddling skills.  

Two additional events were limited to paddlers with intermediate+ experience and launched from the new ADA dock on the harbor at Petten Street.  We travelled upstream past the historical sights at Turning Point Park and into the area we have termed the “wilderness in the city”, before returning to Petten Street.

Crowning the season was the October 2nd ROC the Riverway Weekend paddle.  We gathered at Petten Street, took a city van upriver to Seth Green Park and paddled the full five mile stretch of the Genesee back to the harbor.  We had a brisk but dry fall day to watch fishermen at Lower Falls land a huge salmon, see the Underground Railroad terminus at Kelsey’s Landing, and learn about other pre-Erie Canal river villages including Carthage and Kings Landing, as well as the industrial history of the coal and cement terminals at Turning Point Park.

Over the course of the summer, 34 people participated in the program, several of them coming on multiple dates.  In addition, our tours were joined by a number of paddlers who had their own kayaks and wanted to enjoy a day on the river while learning more about its history and RiverWatch activities.

Looking forward to 2023 and beyond, our plans will continue to be guided by the idea that there is no substitute for experiencing the Genesee from water level.  Thus, we want to increase the number of available paddling dates, add new sections of the river to paddle, create more opportunities for individuals and families who do not know how to paddle to learn the sport, and find ways to incorporate K-12 educational experiences in the program.  

“160 Lifeline” Coconut Cream Ale is Available at Heroes Brewing Co.

Thank you to all that joined us a few weeks ago at the Heroes Brewing Co. beer release party for “160 Lifeline”, a Coconut Cream Ale created especially for Genesee RiverWatch in reference to the 160 miles the Genesee River flows from Gold, PA, to Rochester and in celebration of it being the lifeline of Rochester. It was great to see so many of our friends there!

If you weren’t able to attend, we hope you’ll stop by their location at 543 Atlantic Avenue (open Wednesdays-Saturdays) and give “160 Lifeline” a try. It’s available on tap and also as a four-pack. The best part? One dollar from the sale of every four-pack of “160 Lifeline” will go to Genesee RiverWatch as a way for Heroes Brewing to help support our organization.

The back of the can reads: “The Center for Environmental Initiatives (CEI), the organization that became Genesee RiverWatch, was founded in 1974 by Elizabeth Thorndike. Its original mission was to act as a clearinghouse for environmental information, a covener of experts, and an enabler in solving the serious problems of climate change and acid rain deposition. Today, Genesee RiverWatch works to improve the water quality of the Genesee River and its tributaries to create environmental, recreational, and economic assets for its communities. They also connect people to the river, encouraging them to explore, experience, and celebrate the river.

Their approach to this work is based on core values established over 40 years ago and include a commitment to inform and educate, to base their actions on science and data, and to collaborate with others.

We are proud to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this can to help support the mission of Genesee RiverWatch to help preserve this tremendous resource in our city.”

Thank you, Heroes Brewing Co.!

2022 Genesee River Basin Summit Workshops

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. Our 8th “Summit” was a series of four online workshops held in May.

Workshop #1 What does the public think about the Genesee River Basin?

May 12th, 2022, 8:30 to 10:00 am

Topic: Presentation on the results of a public opinion survey conducted by Causewave Community Partners on water quality issues in the Genesee River.

Replay of the On-line Workshop: REPLAY (YouTube)

2021 Community H2O Survey Results Presentation:

TopicTimePresenterDescription
Opinion Survey Results75 minutesTiffany Paine-Cirrincione, Causewave Community Partners, on behalf of the H2O Hero ProgramReview of the results of a public opinion survey on water quality issues in the Genesee River basin.
Panel Discussion15 minutesAllQuestions & Answers  

Workshop # 2: Got Fish?

May 17th, 2022, 8:30 – 10:00 am

Topic: A walk through of the interactive map developed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) that provides easy-to-find information on how and where to access fishing along the many rivers and streams in New York State.

Note: This fish is a sheepshead/freshwater drum caught in the Lower River below the Veteran’s Bridge.

Replay of the On-line Workshop: REPLAY (YouTube)

DEC Info Locator Presentation:

TopicTimePresenterDescription
General Access70 minutesScott Donnelly, DECHow to use the DEC Info Locator which is an interactive map that lets you access DEC documents and public data about the environmental quality of specific sites in New York State, as well as outdoor recreation information.
Panel Discussion20 minutesAllQuestion and Answers  

Workshop #3: What’s the NYS plan for the Genesee River Watershed?

May 19th, 2022, 8:30 to 10:00 am

Topic: Presentation and discussion of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC’s) Genesee River watershed management plan including what DEC has planned to reduce sediment and phosphorus loads in the river.

Replay of the On-line Workshop: REPLAY (YouTube)

Note: First 15-20 minutes of this workshop were not recorded

Watershed Management Plan Presentation:

TopicTimePresenterDescription
Genesee River Watershed Plan  35 minutesRyan Elliott, NYSDECWhy it is important? What is it intended to accomplish? Status of wastewater treatment plant activities.
Plan Implementation35 minutesKelly Emerick, Monroe County Soil & Water Conservation DistrictImplementation of agricultural aspects of plan.
Panel Discussion15 minutesAllQuestion & Answers  


Workshop # 4: Where Can I Paddle?

May 26th, 2022, 8:30 to 10:00 am

Topic: A review of the latest developments affecting canoe/kayak access to the Genesee River.

Replay of the On-line Workshop: REPLAY (YouTube)

Haugh: Middle River Access and Paddles Presentation:

Mroczek: Overview of Roc the Riverway Presentation:

TopicTime PresenterDescription
Access Plans and Paddling Events15 minutesMike Haugh, Genesee RiverWatchAn update on new and upgraded sites from Mt. Morris to Rochester and paddling events for 2022.
Allegany County Access15 minutesWilliam Hart, Genesee River WildsUpdate on access improvement plans in Allegany County
ROC the Riverway25 minutesJeff Mroczek, City of RochesterDescription of the status of the ROC the Riverway program and how it relates to river access.
Panel Discussion10 minutesAllQuestions & Answers  

A Sincere Thank You to the Orvis Co. and Their Customers

As we approach the holiday season, we want to again thank the Orvis Company for featuring Genesee RiverWatch in their “Great Giveback Days” promotion last May.  You will recall that this generous program offered a $10 Orvis donation to RiverWatch for every purchase of at least $10 at their Pittsford Plaza store.  From the photo above, you can see that the partnership between Orvis and its customers resulted in a terrific donation of $4,155 in support of our work on the Genesee River!

While this promotion may be over for now, we at Genesee RiverWatch want to continue to support our local businesses – especially those that understand our Mission and go out of their way to help us “champion solutions that improve the water quality of the Genesee and initiatives that connect people to the River”.  If your holiday shopping list includes high-quality men’s and women’s outdoor clothing, or items for fly fishermen or dog lovers, please see Jim Wallace and his staff at Orvis in Pittsford Plaza.

Many, many thanks again to Orvis and their customers for supporting Genesee RiverWatch!