Support Genesee RiverWatch through Orvis “Great GiveBack Days”

The Orvis Company has generously included Genesee RiverWatch in their spring “Great Giveback Days” program.

During the month of May, when you buy at least $10.00 worth of goods at the Orvis store in Pittsford, NY, Orvis will donate $10.00 to Genesee RiverWatch. If what you want is not in stock, catalog orders placed through the store, in person or by phone, will also count in this program.

Sounds too simple to be true but the program is no more complicated than that!

For those who have not yet shopped at Orvis, you will find their store at 3349 Monroe Avenue on the east end of the Pittsford Plaza Shopping Center. Inside, you will find a wide variety of very high-quality men’s and women’s outdoor clothing. If you are a fly fisherman or dog lover, you are probably already aware of Orvis and its exceptional products in both areas.

Do yourself (or perhaps a loved one) a favor and visit Orvis this month. Your purchases will support the Genesee RiverWatch mission at no extra cost to you.

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. We are organizing our 8th “Summit” as a series of four online workshops to be held in May.

The workshops are open for registration (or will be very soon!). Just click on the link for EACH workshop below to register. The meetings will be held via Zoom.

#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.

TopicTimeProposed PresenterDescription
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  

Who should attend: Those interested in learning what others think about the river.


# 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.

TopicTimeProposed PresenterDescription
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  

Who should attend: Those interested in fishing in the river and its tributaries.


#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.

TopicTimeProposed PresenterDescription
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  

Who should attend: Those interested in understanding what DEC has planned to reduce sediment and phosphorus loads in the river.


# 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.

TopicTimeProposed 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 Riverway Downtown25Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, Rochester Downtown Development CorporationROC the Riverway, downtown events
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  

Who should attend: Those interested in canoeing or kayaking on the Genesee River whether or not they have their own boat.

Spring Newsletter 2022

Dear Friends,

Spring is finally here and with it, an exciting 2022 Summer Paddling Program, multiple streambank improvement projects, and important public events – including our 8th Annual Genesee River Basin Summit. And there is more…we invite you to take a few minutes to read below and learn about our efforts to realize the Vision of “a healthy and sustainable Genesee River ecosystem that is an environmental, recreational and economic asset for all generations”.

None of this would be possible without the help of our partners, volunteers, and donors.  We are grateful to you all. See you on or around the River!  

Sincerely,

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

Summer Paddling Program

Since 2015, we have partnered with the City of Rochester and the Genesee Waterways Center to offer guided canoe and kayak trips on the Genesee.  These excursions are great opportunities to explore the “wilderness in the city” that is the lower river and to learn about the fascinating history of the Genesee.  This summer’s program will offer trips on both the lower river (between Lower Falls and the harbor)  and on the section of the Genesee bordering Genesee Valley Park and secluded Red Creek.  This summer, in order to enhance safety and increase the enjoyment of all participants, we are asking that participants have a basic knowledge of paddling techniques when they join our trips.  To help people get that knowledge, we are offering two days of training for new paddlers at the Waterways Center.  If you have never before been in a kayak, join us for one of these days.  It will open a whole new opportunity to explore your world that is not available to those tied to the shore.

Below is the tentative program schedule for 2022.  Watch for further announcements in our mailings, on the Genesee RiverWatch website and on the Genesee Waterways website.

  • Saturday, June 11 – Beginner paddling training and intermediate+ skill paddle, Waterways Center
  • Sunday, July 17 – Intermediate+ skill paddle, Petten St.
  • Saturday, August 13 – Beginner paddling training and intermediate+ skill paddle, Waterways Center
  • Saturday, September 10 – Intermediate+ skill paddle, Petten St.
  • Sunday, October 2 (ROC the Riverway Weekend) – Intermediate+ skill paddle, Petten St.

2022 Genesee River Basin Summit

Our 8th Annual Genesee River Basin Summit is coming soon. We are planning a virtual Summit of 4 sessions during the month of May.  The session will be conducted using Zoom and will be recorded for later viewing. Preliminary topics are:

  • A review of the H2O Hero Genesee River public opinion survey; May 12 8:30am-10am
  • Fishing opportunities on the Genesee; May 17 8:30am-10am
  • NY State watershed plan for the Genesee River Basin; May 19 8:30am-10am
  • An update on river access improvements and Rochester’s new focus on the river, including the ROC the Riverway projects. May 26 8:30am-10am

Registration information will be available soon.

Genesee River Blueway Map

The Genesee River Blueway Map is your guide to paddling the Genesee from its headwaters in Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario.  It shows safe access sites and provides the river mileage between these points.  The map is available as a tri-fold brochure at many of the access sites and is downloadable from our website.  Also on the website is an interactive map that will allow you to custom plan your route and print a more detailed map specific to your plan. The new site under construction in Houghton will be added during this paddling season.

See us at the Expo

Join us at the 23rd ANNUAL OUTDOOR EXPO at Mendon Ponds Park on June 11th. The Expo is  sponsored by the Genesee Valley Chapter, Adirondack Mountain Club and Monroe County Parks. If you have not been there before, you will find it a terrific opportunity to learn about a wide range of outdoor experiences. From hiking to paddling to wooden boat construction to bike repair, the Outdoor Expo provides a chance to explore it all!
SATURDAY, JUNE 11, 2022
9:30 am to 3:30 pm

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. We currently have several active projects along the Genesee River in Allegany and Livingston Counties and have provided updates below.

Mallards Dairy #2/Town of Caneadea

Construction on this project to restore 2,000 feet of eroded streambank along the Genesee River just south of the Village of Houghton, NY, began in September 2021 and was completed in October. The contractor graded the fast-eroding vertical riverbank, creating a three-tiered structure, stabilized by tree stumps and five rock vanes in the river. The field is owned and cultivated by Mallards Dairy, LLC to support their large dairy operation in Cuba, NY. The owner, Charlie Bares, provided all of the funding to hire the contractor as his match for this $320,000 project. On April 1st and 2nd Genesee RiverWatch volunteers, together with Mr. and Mrs. Bares, harvested approximately 5,000 willow cuttings from elsewhere on the property and planted them in the new bank.  As these willows grow, their roots will provide long term stability for the bank, preserving this valuable farmland and preventing hundreds of tons of sediment from washing down the river.  Thank you to all the volunteers who joined us in this work!

Agricultural Best Management Practices Project/Livingston County

Genesee RiverWatch has been working with the Livingston County Soil and Water Conservation District (LCS&WCD) since 2020 to identify farm fields in the Jaycox Creek subwatershed that are candidates for application of agricultural best management practices (AgBMPs) to reduce erosion and soil loss. It is funded by a $198K Great Lakes Commission grant and planned $53K match ($251K total). Two projects were completed in 2021 and two have been selected for 2022. The 2021 projects were on an 85-acre field (shared by 3 farms) east of Geneseo and a horse stable (KJW Stables) north of Geneseo. The two projects for 2023 are on agricultural fields at the Brady Farm and Byron Farms properties. The work is being directed by LCS&WCD. The primary practices being considered are terraces, grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs), and underground outlets.

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.

Avon & Geneseo – The US Fish and Wildlife Service and NYSDEC as trustees for the Kodak Environmental Response trust have awarded Genesee RiverWatch a grant to upgrade canoe/kayak access sites on the Genesee River in Avon and Geneseo. We expect funding to be available by May and to complete construction by December 2022.

Fillmore – Genesee River Wilds has been working to secure an official access site in Fillmore to take the place of the unofficial “Fillmore Beach” site that was recently closed by its new owners.  They are currently exploring the idea of using Allegany County land on the northwest corner of the Route 4 bridge.  A final decision is not expected in the 2022 boating season.  When the site becomes available, Genesee RiverWatch will provide Blueway signs and include the site on our interactive map.

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 been completed to grade the access road and parking lot. The site will be available for the 2022 boating season. Genesee RiverWatch will provide Blueway signs and include the site on our interactive map.

Donor Support Helps Us Do Our Work

As we have said before, Genesee RiverWatch relies heavily on community support to continue its work of improving water quality and connecting people to the river.  Big-ticket projects such as the streambank work and access sites discussed above are typically funded by government and agency grants, often in the range of $200,000 to $400,000.  However, all the preliminary work that goes into obtaining these grants – the site identification, landowner relations, engineering, etc. – is done by a combination of volunteers and donations from those who support our work.  All of our other work, including our water quality Report Card, summer paddling program, and annual Genesee River Basin Summits, is also accomplished using donations and hard-working volunteers.

In 2021, you donated over $26,000 to RiverWatch, a rewarding 18% increase over 2020!  Thank you so much for your commitment to our vision of  “a healthy and sustainable Genesee River ecosystem that is an environmental, recreational and economic asset for all generations”.

Please keep Genesee RiverWatch in your plans for 2022 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 this year.

Meet our Staff and Board of Directors

Genesee RiverWatch has a dedicated staff and volunteer Board of Directors. We invite you to visit our updated “Who We Are” page to learn more about us.

Summer 2022 Paddling Program

Since 2015, we have partnered with the City of Rochester and the Genesee Waterways Center to offer guided canoe and kayak trips on the Genesee.  These excursions are great opportunities to explore the “wilderness in the city” that is the lower river and to learn about the fascinating history of the Genesee.  This summer’s program will offer trips on both the lower river (between Lower Falls and the harbor) and on the section of the Genesee bordering Genesee Valley Park and secluded Red Creek.  This summer, in order to enhance safety and increase the enjoyment of all participants, we are asking that participants have a basic knowledge of paddling techniques when they join our trips.  To help people get that knowledge, this year we are offering two days of training for new paddlers at the Waterways Center.  If you have never before been in a kayak, join us for one of these days.  It will open a whole new opportunity to explore your world that is not available to those tied to the shore.

Below is the tentative program schedule for 2022.  Watch for further announcements in our mailings, on the Genesee RiverWatch website and on the Genesee Waterways website.

  • Saturday, June 11 – Beginner paddling training and intermediate+ skill paddle, Waterways Center
  • Sunday, July 17 – Intermediate+ skill paddle, Petten St.
  • Saturday, August 13 – Beginner paddling training and intermediate+ skill paddle, Waterways Center
  • Saturday, September 10 – Intermediate+ skill paddle, Petten St.
  • Sunday, October 2 (ROC the Riverway Weekend) – Intermediate+ skill paddle, Petten St.

Thank-you to our Supporters

This article is part of Genesee RiverWatch’s 2021 Year End Appeal Series.

2021 is behind us and, while difficult for us all, we got a great deal accomplished at Genesee RiverWatch.  Thanks to you, our Year End Appeal fund drive was one of the high points of the year!

This was the third time we have come to you with a Year End Appeal.  We were encouraged by the $2,000 you donated during our first drive in 2019.  In 2020, your contributions increased by an amazing 266%, to over $5,000.  This year you added a further 25%, donating over $6,700 to fund RiverWatch’s work on the Genesee.

As we did in 2020, our Appeal letters included detailed descriptions of key components of this work: We reported on last year’s streambank restoration project in Houghton, our annual Genesee River Basin Summit programs, and some of the significant partnerships that allow us to multiply the impact of our efforts and your donations.  If you missed these articles when they first appeared, you can read them at Seeking Your Support | Genesee RiverWatch

At RiverWatch, our Year End Appeal represents a significant portion of our full year fund raising program.  It makes possible the critical project development work that our volunteers must do to define erosion control, river access, public outreach, and education projects in advance of the grants that cover the cost of executing this work.  As a result of your generosity, we can move forward with the ambitious schedule of work that you will hear about as 2022 progresses.  Our sincere thanks to you and our best wishes for a healthy and happy 2022.

We hope to see you out enjoying the Genesee – whether on the water, hiking and biking its trails, fishing, or just relaxing and enjoying the river’s serenity.

All the best,

The Genesee RiverWatch Team

P.S.  If you missed contributing during the Year End Appeal or prefer to renew your support at another time during the year, please consider investing $100, $250 – or an amount of your choosing – in Genesee RiverWatch and our work.

Working with Partners – The Multiplier Effect

This article is part of Genesee RiverWatch’s 2021 Year End Appeal Series – telling the stories behind our significant accomplishments.

Partnering with other organizations has been in the Genesee RiverWatch DNA since the formation of its predecessor organization, the Center for Environmental Information, in 1974.  In so doing, we can take advantage of the strengths of multiple organizations while avoiding conflicts over funding and recognition.  Examples abound:

River Access: In 2018-20 we partnered with the City of Rochester to design and build the first-ever dedicated canoe/kayak dock facility on the lower river at Petten Street.  With a core donation from Genesee Brewery, we provided the initial impetus and funding needed to turn the City’s long-term plan for such a dock into a current reality.  The city, led by DES Commissioner Norman Jones, provided additional funding, engineering  and permitting resources beyond the reach of RiverWatch. The Petten Street Dock was opened in the Fall of 2020.

Implementing Agricultural Best Management Practices: This year we partnered with the Livingston County Soil & Water Conservation District (LCS&WCD) to apply for a $198K Great Lakes Commission grant to implement “agricultural best management practices” on multiple farm properties in the Jaycox Creek sub watershed of the Genesee River.  This work is reducing sediment and nutrient inflows to the Genesee and preserving precious farmland.  The first project under this grant involved grading and installing drains and sediment control basins on 85 acres owned by three adjoining farms near North Road in Geneseo.  RiverWatch brought its grant writing skills and reputation for solid implementation to the association, while Robert Stryker, Manager of the LCS&WCD, contributed his own reputation for successful project work and his detailed knowledge of the local farm community.  This work will continue with additional projects in 2022.

Paddling on the River: In 2021, Genesee RiverWatch offered an expanded series of public paddle events on the Genesee in the Rochester area.  To do this required partnering with the Genesee Waterways Center and Erie Canal Boat Company who provided the canoes and kayaks that allowed 71 people to explore the lower river, Red Creek and Black Creek.  RiverWatch guided the trips and pointed out areas of historical, cultural, and natural interest.

Streambank Restoration: Mallards Dairy in Allegany County partnered with us on our first-ever streambank restoration project in 2017-2018.  Based on this success, we again allied with Mallards to restore 1,800 feet of riverbank near Houghton, NY.  As with all these projects, the goal is to preserve valuable farmland while eliminating a major source of sediment and algae-causing nutrients in the river and improving bio habitat.  RiverWatch provides initial project engineering, grant writing, permitting, and project oversight skills. Its farming partners provide the “in-kind” work required by federal grant providers.  In the case of the Houghton project, the Great Lakes Commission awarded a grant of $197K and Mallards Dairy paid the construction contractor $119K, for a total project value of $316K.

Special Studies at St. John Fisher College: Over the years, we have frequently partnered with St. John Fisher College faculty and students to do special studies that RiverWatch personnel do not have the time or skills to execute.  In 2019, the Public Policy class studied the river cities of Milwaukee, San Antonio, Richmond, Chattanooga, and Buffalo.  They developed a report that compared Rochester’s river plans with the situations faced by each of these cities and the ways in which each successfully capitalized on their river assets.  In so doing, the students were exposed to real time examples of public policy being used to drive economic and environmental benefits, while RiverWatch gained insights to refine our own strategic plans.  In 2020, we partnered with the head of Fisher’s Department of Media and Communications to offer a student a web design practicum focusing on upgrading the RiverWatch web site.  The student’s input was helpful as we began the work to build and launch our new website in 2020.

Genesee Blueway Map: In 2019-20 we partnered with Genesee River Wilds in Allegany County and the Genesee Valley Conservancy in Geneseo to develop the Genesee River Blueway Map.  The new map updates a 2004 map produced by the Sierra Club.  It shows safe access points and distances between these points to facilitate trip planning.  There is also a new interactive version of the map available on our website.  Here again, RiverWatch used its grant writing skills to obtain $25K of NOAA Sea Grant funding to underwrite the project.  We also applied our detailed knowledge of the lower river and our website mapping skills.  Our partners contributed their intimate experience on the middle and upper river.  In addition to the map itself, the team developed new signage for each access site showing, on the land side, the name of the site and the river mileage to that point.  On the river side, these signs indicate the upcoming take-out point, its river mileage, and the distance to the next take-out point.

Your Support is Needed

Your support is critical to our ability to continue this work on behalf of our river and our community. As you know, Genesee RiverWatch is dependent on its volunteers to do this work.  However, our volunteers need funding to run the organization, offer public events, and do the studies, outreach, and engineering necessary to obtain financing for the larger projects.

Please consider investing $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

The Story Behind the Genesee River Basin Summits

This article is part of Genesee RiverWatch’s 2021 Year End Appeal Series – telling the stories behind our significant accomplishments.

In 2014, our founding organization, the Center for Environmental Initiatives, launched Genesee RiverWatch with the first-ever Genesee River Basin Summit.  On a freezing day in February, 185 attendees, representing 85 organizations, heard speakers describe the critical needs of the Genesee and participated in breakout sessions designed to flesh out and prioritize future projects.  Except for COVID-affected 2020, we have hosted Summits every year since.  Each has included reports to the community on our work and presented expert speakers on a wide variety of topics.

Summit Topics Since 2014

Here are the major topics discussed at each Summit since the 2014 inaugural:

In addition to expert speakers on these topics, each Summit included a report by Genesee RiverWatch on its current activities, and, most importantly, multiple opportunities for the participants voice their ideas for future priority work.

We were forced to cancel the planned 2020 Summit in the face of the COVID pandemic but were determined to bring the program back this year.

2021 “Virtual” Summit

In place of a single day, in-person program, the 2021 Summit was held virtually via Zoom on four Wednesday mornings in April and May.  Each session featured expert speakers on the day’s topic, a report on Genesee RiverWatch’s work in the area and time for viewer questions and suggestions.  For those unable to attend the sessions live, we recorded them for posting on YouTube.  Here are the topics covered in each session and the YouTube links to their recording:

Session #1 – We Need Trees  How streambank projects drive the need for seedlings and juvenile trees to restore riparian zones.  RiverWatch’s new Carbon Neutral Policy to offset the carbon sequestration impact of construction projects.  Early report on potential crowdsourcing of trees stock.  “We Need Trees” – Genesee River Basin 2021 Summit – Workshop #1 – April 7, 2021 – YouTube

Session #2 – What’s Going On – A discussion of past, current and upcoming streambank stabilization and Agricultural Best Management Practice projects.  “What’s Going On?” – Genesee River Basin 2021 Summit – Workshop #2 – April 14, 2021 – YouTube

Session #3 – Got Access? – Overview of the recently published Genesee River Basin Canoe/Kayak Access Plan.  Discussions of the planned Fillmore access site and the new Petten Street canoe/kayak dock. “Got Access?” – Genesee River Basin 2021 Summit – Workshop #3 – May 5, 2021 – YouTube

 Session #4 – Let’s Plan a Canoe/Kayak Trip  Introduction to the new Genesee River Blueway map.  Description of available services at Erie Canal Boat Company and the Genesee Waterways Center.  On-the-water descriptions of Genesee paddling routes from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario.  “Let’s Plan a Canoe/Kayak Trip” – Genesee River Basin Summit 2021 – Workshop #4 – May 12, 2021 – YouTube

In-person Summit sessions are much better at fostering personal interactions and friendships.  They are also much better than “virtual” programs at stimulating participant ideas and debate.  However, it appears that, for 2022 at least, health concerns will dictate that we continue meeting via Zoom.  Keep your eyes on the Genesee RiverWatch emails and website for information on next year’s Summit program.  We hope you can attend, in particular because your ideas and viewpoints make these programs more valuable for all of us.

Your Support is Needed

Your support is critical to our ability to continue this work on behalf of our river and our community. As you know, Genesee RiverWatch is dependent on its volunteers to do this work.  However, our volunteers need funding to run the organization, offer public events, and do the studies, outreach, and engineering necessary to obtain financing for the larger projects.

Please consider investing $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 – 2021 Season Report & 2022 Outlook

There is no substitute for experiencing the Genesee from water level.  That’s why between May and October, Genesee RiverWatch partnered with both the Genesee Waterways Center and the Erie Canal Boat Company to provide guided paddles on the Genesee, as well as Black Creek and Red Creek.  In total, 71 people joined us, with each trip attracting between 2 and 17 paddlers.

The season kicked off with two weekends of kayaking from the docks at Black Creek and Petten Street.  Erie Canal Boat Company provided our kayaks and equipment.  Genesee RiverWatch guided the participants north on the Genesee from Black Creek to the Erie Canal and south past the RIT campus.  On a particularly windy day, we explored the sheltered and remote channels of Black Creek.  Along the way, we discussed the history of our river and saw parts of the old Genesee Valley Canal and Genesee Valley Canal Railroad.  The following weekend, we kayaked up the lower river from the new Petten Street kayak/canoe dock, past the old coal shipping port and the new Lehigh Cement docks.  We discussed the river’s role in the Underground Railway and watched the modern dredging operation that maintains Rochester’s deep-water channel for lake traffic.

From June through ROC the River Weekend in October, we used the Genesee River Waterways Center’s canoes and kayaks to further explore the lower Genesee from Petten Street and to investigate Red Creek from its mouth on the Erie Canal to the limits of navigability south of Crittenden Road.  In addition to being quiet and sheltered, Red Creek nurtures a wealth of wildlife including painted turtles, ducks, herons, egrets, and muskrats.

Looking forward to 2022 and beyond, we want to increase the number of available paddling dates, add new sections of the river to paddle, create 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.  Be sure to join our mailing list and “friend” us on Facebook to get advance notice of upcoming events and the 2022 paddling program. 

See you on the river!

The Story Behind the Houghton Streambank Project

This article is part of Genesee RiverWatch’s 2021 Year End Appeal Series – telling the stories behind our significant accomplishments.

In 2017-18 we completed our first streambank restoration project at a site near Belfast, NY, owned by Mallards Dairy, LLC.  Our restoration projects are designed to reduce sediment and nutrient inflows to the Genesee and improve aquatic habitat in the river. This project was so successful that RiverWatch and the landowner – whose farmland was preserved – were eager to undertake additional sites. 

In 2019 and 2020, RiverWatch executed projects near Fillmore and Angelica with different landowners.  In the course of this work, we gathered experience with the varied geology of the Genesee and construction techniques required to both stabilize/recover the riverbank and improve aquatic habitat in the river. 

Each of these projects has been funded by significant grants from the federal government and, in one case, a trust stemming from the Kodak bankruptcy.  Before applying for these grants however, RiverWatch expends considerable time and money in developing landowner relationships; discussing permitting issues with local, state, and federal authorities; and the preliminary engineering required to establish project feasibility and cost estimates.  This work is entirely supported by our volunteers and our donors.

In 2020, we identified an 1,800 foot stretch of riverbank south of Houghton, NY, as our next restoration target.  This rapidly eroding property is owned by Mallards Dairy and used to grow feed for their dairy operation in Cuba, NY.   A $197K grant from the Great Lakes Commission, supplemented by a $119K commitment from Mallards Dairy, allowed us to begin the work of detailed engineering and formal permitting.

In its original state, the property had 6-15 foot tall, near-vertical banks, composed of light sandy soils.  This is typical of many stretches of the Genesee and is part of the region’s glacial legacy.  Being on the outside of a riverbend, erosion during high water events was significant and would be reduced with streambank restoration.

Based on our experience, the project was engineered to cut back the angle of the bank, creating three tiers which are stabilized by a combination of rock and interlaced tree trunks and, eventually, topped by plantings of willow trees and bushes.  In addition, we installed five rock “barbs”, protruding into the river, which slow the current during high water and redirect it away from the bank toward the middle of the stream.

Harvesting and planting of willow stakes started in November and will continue next spring.  Additional bushes and, possibly, juvenile trees will be added in 2022-23.

Your support is critical to our ability to continue this work on behalf of our river and our community. As you know, Genesee RiverWatch is dependent on its volunteers to do this work.  However, our volunteers need funding to run the organization, offer public events, and do the studies, outreach, and engineering necessary to obtain financing for the larger projects.

Please consider investing $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

Seeking Your Support

2021 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”. Learn more about the “multiplier effect” on our working partnerships.

2021 Accomplishments

Despite another challenging “Covid” year, the Genesee RiverWatch team continued to move forward with those activities that could be done safely.  Here are some of the projects and programs that we completed this year:

  • Restored 1,800 feet of eroded streambank just south of the Village of Houghton.  This $316K project was funded by a $197K grant from the Great Lakes Commission and $119K of matching funds provided by Mallards Dairy, LLC, the property owner.  Restoration planting has begun and will continue into 2022. Learn more about this project.
  • Offered 11 days of guided paddling on the lower river between Black Creek and the Rochester Harbor.  2021 represented a dramatic expansion of this program from the 3 days offered in prior years.  71 people joined us, using kayaks and canoes provided by Erie Canal Boat Company and the Genesee River Waterways Center. Read more about our 2021 summer paddles!
  • 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.  The first of these projects was completed in June on 85 acres of fields owned by three adjoining farms east of Geneseo, NY.  The work will dramatically reduce soil loss in this area and cut sediment and nutrient flows into the Main Stem of the Genesee.
  • Re-started our annual series of Genesee River Basin Summits after the COVID-caused hiatus in 2020.  This year’s “virtual” program took place over four days in April and May and covered topics related to streambank restoration, trees/carbon sequestration, and recreational use of the Genesee. Learn more about our Genesee River Basin Summits.

Your support is critical to our ability to continue this work on behalf of our river and our community. As you know, Genesee RiverWatch is dependent on its volunteers to do this work.  However, even volunteers need funding to run the organization, offer public events, and do the studies, outreach, and engineering necessary to obtain financing for the larger projects.  

Please consider investing $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