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On Thursday, December 8th, Commissioners of the U.S.- Canada International Joint Commission signed an updated order of approval for the regulation of water levels and flows in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
The original Plan was adopted by IJC, which oversees Great Lakes issues, in mid-2014 . Adoption of the plan came after more than a decade of study and updating the existing 1950s-era regulatory plan.
To be enacted, Plan 2014 must be approved by the federal governments of both the United States and Canada. The updated order makes it possible for the IJC to approve Plan 2014.
The news of the Plan’s approval drew a lot of comments.
Save Our Sodus along with residents of the South Shore of Lake Ontario opposes Plan 2014.
“May leave our lakeshore vulnerable.”
“With the approval of Plan 2014 comes great risk to many of our community’s home and business owners. Under Plan 2014, the higher lake levels may leave our lakeshore vulnerable to substantial flooding and increased erosion, resulting in significant damages to both private properties and public infrastructure. Relying on the last 50 years of lake-level standards, homeowners and businesses along the shore of Lake Ontario have invested their time and money into protecting their properties and Plan 2014 jeopardizes those investments.” — Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo.
Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. (Photo: OLIVIA LOPEZ / @OLOPEZ4 /file photo)
Dave McDowell, President of the Board of Directors of Save Our Sodus, Inc.
“Absolutely do harm.”
“I’m very disappointed in our state and federal representatives and our senators for allowing this to happen. This will absolutely do harm to five or six of the counties on the south shore of Lake Ontario at some point. And doing harm to any stakeholder … was specifically prohibited by the IJC charter.” — Dave McDowell, president of Save Our Sodus.
“The Challenge To This Should Be A Legal One”
“I am incredibly disappointed with today’s announcement that Plan 2014 will move forward. Despite the last-ditch actions taken by the administration today, I will continue to work with all levels of government — including the incoming administration — as well as stakeholders and community members to pursue every possible course to ensure that our shoreline is protected and to mitigate the impact of this decision.” — U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, Onondaga County.
Republican Rep. John Katko, D&C Staff photo
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, Essex County, New York
“Critical to our economic growth.”
“Plan 2014 is critical to our local economic growth in addition to good environmental policy, and I applaud this important decision. Better regulating the water levels of the St. Lawrence will ensure that users — from boaters to commercial fisherman — can continue to enjoy the river. Lowering the impact of invasive species will ensure that outdoor recreationists can enjoy the river for decades to come. — U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, Essex County.
“If the International Joint Commission thinks for a second that Plan 2014 will ever be fully implemented, they are sorely mistaken. I can guarantee you that I will do everything in my power to protect the taxpayers, homeowners and small businesses along the Lake Ontario shoreline that are set to be devastated by this bureaucratic disaster.” — U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, Erie County.
Republican Rep. Chris Collins
“Revitalize our environment.”
“Plan 2014 will protect and preserve some of upstate New York’s greatest assets — Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and hundreds of miles of shoreline. We are grateful for this international, bipartisan decision to revitalize our environment and enhance the quality of life for all the people who live along the lake and river.” — Jim Howe, director, Nature Conservancy of Western and Central New York.
“Potential to endanger”
“This plan has extreme potential to endanger the homes and livelihood of the thousands of residents within the town of Greece. I fear for our residents and businesses along the lakeshore not only in Greece but along the entire shoreline. Since the introduction of the proposed Plan 2014, I have been outspoken against its passage.” — Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich.
November 15, 2016
Contact: Kate Frazer
The Nature Conservancy and Partners to Restore Sodus Bay Wetlands for People and Nature
Sustain Our Great Lakes grant will help revitalize more than 115 acres of coastal wetland habitat along Sodus Bay
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Nature Conservancy has been awarded a $193,521 grant from the Sustain Our Great Lakes program to restore and enhance more than 115 acres of wetland habitat in Sodus Bay by reconnecting floodplain habitat and assessing road-stream crossings that prevent fish from reaching spawning habitats.
The effort is a partnership among Save our Sodus, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) and The Nature Conservancy. With contributions from partners and private funders, the total budget for the project amounts to more than $362,000.
“Sustain Our Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) have been critical partners in protecting wetlands,” said Jim Howe, executive director of The Nature Conservancy’s Central and Western New York Chapter. “Healthy wetlands filter our water, absorb storm surges and provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife. They’re vital to maintaining a healthy Bay and the benefits it provides―recreational boating, fishing, swimming and tourism―to our local economy.
The Nature Conservancy will first assess the effectiveness of 10 existing road stream crossings in improving passage for fish to upstream spawning habitat. Then, beginning in winter 2017 when the wetland mat is still frozen, an excavator will be used to create a more natural wetland with a meandering stream corridor, at least two acres of backwater potholes and new channels that connect streams to their floodplains. The revitalized wetland will offer new and improved habitat for species like northern pike, black ducks, green winged teal, least bitterns and potentially even black terns, a NYS-threatened species that hasn’t been observed breeding in the area in 10 years.
“The southern Sodus Bay wetland is one of only a few remaining coastal wetland complexes in the Lake Ontario basin,” said Gregg Sargis, director of ecological management for The Nature Conservancy. In addition to restoring wetland habitats for fish and wildlife, this project will make the shoreline of Lake Ontario more resilient for people by absorbing storm surge, increasing flood storage and reducing the amount of nutrients and pollutants entering Sodus Bay.”
“This wetland restoration project will be a great benefit to the entire watershed community, economically and environmentally,” said Save Our Sodus Board Member Edward Leroux. “Not only will the project benefit fish and wildlife, but the improved functioning of the wetland will significantly reduce nutrient loading from tributaries flowing to the Bay. Projects such as this one are an important contribution to the preservation of our recreation- and tourism-based economy as well as shore owners.”
“This project will also build upon invasive species management efforts currently underway across Sodus Bay while helping to deepen partnership for the benefit of the region,” said Lindsay Gerstenslager, District Manager for the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District. “The District is glad to have worked with many partners to improve water quality and invasive species management over the years, and adding The Nature Conservancy to these efforts will broaden our scope and expertise.”
“We are excited to work with The Nature Conservancy on this important project,” added Gregory Boyer, Director of Great Lakes Research and Professor of Biochemistry at SUNY-ESF. “While this project will improve fish habitat in the wetlands, we are hoping it will have an equally important role in limiting the nutrients entering Sodus Bay via Sodus Creek. This should lead to long-term benefits such as improved water quality and a reduction in harmful algal blooms that have plagued the Bay in past years.”
Additional private funds will be needed to complete this vital environmental restoration initiative. The Helen & Ritter Shumway Foundation has provided a grant in support of the effort, and The Nature Conservancy will be looking to raise additional funds over the next year.
Sustain Our Great Lakes is a public–private partnership that supports habitat restoration in the Great Lakes basin. Administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a significant portion of program funding is provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), a federal program designed to protect, restore and enhance the Great Lakes ecosystem. In 2016, the Sustain Our Great Lakes program awarded The Nature Conservancy $1.19 million for Great Lakes coastal wetland conservation projects in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and New York.
Learn more about Nature Conservancy projects across the Great Lakes basin that received Sustain Our Great Lakes funding this year.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Nature Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. In Central and Western New York, The Nature Conservancy has protected nearly 100,000 acres for people and nature and owns and manages preserves totaling 30,000 acres. www.nature.org
Want to Learn About the Status of Lake Ontario Fisheries and Provide Input on Future Trout and Salmon Management?
Come to September DEC Meetings!
The public will have the opportunity to learn about the status of Lake Ontario fisheries and provide input on future trout and salmon management at public meetings in Oswego, Niagara, and Monroe counties this September, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.
“Lake Ontario and its tributaries provide world-class angling opportunities,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Under Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, salmon and trout fishing in Lake Ontario have never been better. New York is committed to ensuring the ecological, recreational and economic benefits of Lake Ontario’s sport fisheries are sustained for generations to come.”
Recent studies have shown that Chinook salmon raised by sportsmen in “net pens” for three weeks prior to stocking survive twice as well as those stocked by traditional, direct stocking methods. In addition, approximately half of the Chinook salmon in Lake Ontario are naturally reproduced, “wild” fish. In addition, New York and the Province of Ontario stock a combined 2.36 million Chinook salmon each year. Improved survival of pen-reared fish and the contribution of wild fish resulted in an additional six million Chinook salmon per year over the yearly average. While the high numbers of Chinook salmon have produced record-breaking angling, the population is increasing demand on Chinook salmon’s primary prey, the alewife.
While the impact of relatively poor alewife survival in two successive winters was not apparent in 2016, DEC experts are concerned with its impact on the size of the adult alewife population in 2017 and beyond, as well as the adult alewife population’s ability to sustain the large numbers of trout and salmon in the lake.
Alewife, which have limited tolerance to cold temperatures, are not native to the Great Lakes. The extremely cold winters of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 resulted in poor survival of alewife produced in those years.
The meeting dates and locations to discuss the issues are as follows:
Monday, September 19: 6:30 – 9 p.m. at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Building, 4487 Lake Avenue, Lockport, Niagara County.
The meeting is co-hosted by Niagara County Cooperative Extension and the Niagara County Sportfishery Development Board.
Tuesday, September 20: 6:30 – 9 p.m. at the Sandy Creek High School auditorium, 124 Salisbury Street, Oswego County.
The meeting is co-hosted by the Eastern Lake Ontario Salmon and Trout Association.
Tuesday, September 27: 6:30 – 9 p.m. at the Town of Greece Town Hall, 1 Vince Tofany Blvd., Monroe County.
The meeting is co-hosted by the Monroe County Fishery Advisory Board.
Staff from DEC will present information, and the audience will have ample time to ask questions and provide input on potential management actions. Background information for these meetings can be found at DEC’s website. Those who cannot attend a meeting can provide comments at email@example.com through October 14, 2016. For further information contact Steven LaPan, New York Great Lakes Fisheries Section Head at Cape Vincent Fisheries Research Station, (315) 654-2147.
We are organizing this Work Party in conjunction with the 31st Annual New York State Beach Cleanup Day.
The volunteer participants will clean the Sodus Point beach that so many of our residents and guests love and enjoy.
All Beach Cleanup participants in exchange for bags filled with the trash collected on the beach will be given tickets to a FREE meal.
The meal will include Pulled Pork, Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, Mac Salad, Salt Potatoes, Soda and water, is sponsored by Save Our Sodus and provided by Captain Jack’s.
Work Party and Expo Itinerary
Beach Cleanup - From 8-30 a.m. till. 11-30 a.m.
Beach Cleanup Volunteers (you?!) will be given special bags to be filled with trash collected on the beach. These filled bags will be turned in for an exchange to a FREE delicious lunch.
Expo - 8-30 a.m. till 11-30 a.m.
This is where you can learn What Worked, and What Else We Can Do to make sure Sodus Bay’s water stays clean.
Lunch and Party
Pulled Pork, Cole Slaw, Baked Beans, Mac Salad, Salt Potatoes, Soda and water will be FREE to the Beach Cleanup participants. Captain Jack’s will be providing and serving it.
Hot, dry summers, like the one we are having here in the Upstate New York, often come with toxic blue-green algae blooms.
Dr. Greg Boyer from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and his team monitor water quality of Sodus Bay weekly. Here’s what he shared with us during his resent sample collection around the bay.
Save Our Sodus (SOS) 2016 Annual Fundraising Campaign
Purchased stream instrumentation to monitor harmful contaminants entering the Bay
On-going data gathering from Bay buoys to anticipate the emergence of blue/green algae
Participate in wetland restoration of Sodus Bay tributaries to minimize contaminants entering the Bay
Continue to strongly oppose the International Joint Commission Plan 2014;
Coordinate annual water chestnut pull and identification of other invasive species;
Facilitate shoreline restoration repairs to the east-west breakwater that protects Sodus Bay
Partner with SUNY ESF, Wayne County Soil and Water, Nature Conservancy and others
In order to continue with our mission, your financial help would be appreciated. SOS is a 501C3 organization. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.YES, I WANT TO SUPPORT SOS NOW
Attention Sodus Bay residents and guests:
A very slight toxic bloom near the shore of Oak Park Marina was recorded last week.
As a precaution it is recommended that people and pets avoid contact with visible algae.
Please click on a link to open a report prepared by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Sodus Bay Blue-Green-Algae Report 07.29.16 (a pdf file)
If you would like to request a visual and blue-green algae toxin analysis at SUNY ESF you can submit a sample with a filled-out request form.Click to download Request Form
The blooms appear when the organism multiplies very rapidly over a short period of time, usually in calm, warm water.
Blue-green algae is concerning because has toxins when there is a high level of algae in the water. Contact with it may result in side effects including itching, rashes, fever, headache, upper respiratory symptoms, vomiting and diarrhea.
People are advised to not drink or use the lake water for cooking; any swimming, wading or other forms of direct contact with water containing blue-green algae should be avoided. Pets should also be kept away from the water.
On July 25th, Saturday, 15 volunteers from SOS, Wayne County Soil & Water from Hilary Mosher’s team paddled to the Second Creek to harvest water chestnuts, an invasive specie to Sodus Bay.
Some volunteers have been doing it a number of years. Based on their observation, this year’s harvest wasn’t as bountiful as in the previous years – WHICH IS A GREAT THING!
Some photos from that expedition are below. You can click them to enlarge.
Have you seen buoys around Sodus Bay? They help predict toxic algae blooms. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) monitors water quality of the Bay. Watch this video to learn more.
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A crisp, clear spring morning when sunlight sparkles off the water might seem like an odd time to think about toxic algal blooms that coat the water in a thick blue-green film, but it’s precisely when researchers start water monitoring.
Toxic blue-green algal blooms in the northeastern United States typically form during the hot days of August. By keeping an eye on the water chemistry throughout the summer, researchers might be able to predict when a potential bloom is coming.
Michael Satchwell, senior research support specialist at ESF, and undergraduate Matt Blake deployed three buoys in Sodus Bay in early May to monitor water conditions in the bay. The solar-powered buoys measure the basic water chemistry, including temperature, pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen levels, chlorophyll and phycocyanin, a pigment specific to blue-green algae. The central buoy houses a complete weather station and also records water levels. This data is being used to produce models of water movement within the bay.
“If we see a spike in phycocyanin levels we know a potential bloom may be coming,” said Satchwell. Data from the buoys is transmitted in near-real time to the Great Lakes Research Consortium’s website where anyone can access the data. It is also being used by researchers at the University of Buffalo to build a better predictive model for the occurrence of harmful algal blooms.
“If we get them (blue-green algal blooms), we get them typically in the late summer,” said Ed Leroux, a resident of Sodus Bay who assists the ESF team.
The bay experienced a major bloom in 2010 that shut down businesses two weeks before Labor Day, delivering a blow to the popular tourist area. “No one was in the water, no one was in the restaurants,” Leroux said. “It woke the community up. We had to find out why it happened and how it happened because it had a serious economic impact on the community.”
Blue-green algae blooms, or cyanobacteria, can be harmful to humans and fatal to pets. Exposure to the algae can result in diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.
Save Our Sodus, a group dedicated to addressing challenges to the quality of Sodus Bay, asked Dr. Greg Boyer of the ESF Department of Chemistry to look into the matter. Boyer, director of the Great Lakes Research Consortium and member of Save Our Sodus, has studied algal blooms in numerous water bodies in the Northeast and China for more than three decades.
Boyer began random water sampling in the bay in 2011 and has been collecting data, sometimes on a weekly basis every since. This information forms the basis of a weekly report that appears on the Save our Sodus website to inform the general public about conditions on the bay. The buoys were installed in 2011 to automate the process with funding from a number of sources, including a grant with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Great Lakes Restoration initiative, New York Sea Grant and funding from the Great Lakes Observing System.
“To date, data shows chlorophyll has dropped off while phosphorus levels vary up and down, and toxicity is down; but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are getting better. Phosphorus levels have to be in check and we have to be able to predict the toxicity levels,” said Boyer.
Blooms are known to form in tight corners and areas with little water circulation, such as marinas, so the town installed blowers – normally used to keep ice from forming – to help keep the water moving in the summer, Leroux said.
So far, researchers have not identified a “smoking gun” that identifies what precisely triggers the toxic blooms. However work with the University of Buffalo strongly suggests that water movement in and out of the bay may be an important contributor.
Fortunately for the merchants and tourists in Sodus Bay, algal blooms have not been troublesome over the last few years. “There hasn’t been a significant bloom since 2010,” noted Satchwell.
“If you keep studying it, it won’t come back,” Leroux said, somewhat tongue in cheek. “So we’re going to study it to death.”
~~~~~~~ The story first appeared at http://www.esf.edu/communications/view.asp?newsID=5361 ~~~~~~~~~~