Shoreline provides structural integrity to the water’s edge, protecting it from erosion.

Excessive erosion is damaging to water quality, ecosystems, water-edge properties and more.

In order to keep integrity of Sodus Bay shoreline it is vital to maintain piers

and  keep reinforcing areas most exposed to wave action and winds, particularly the ones that separate Lake Ontario from Sodus Bay: Crescent Beach and Break Wall.

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If you’ve been coming to Great Sodus Bay very long, you have seen the lighthouses, old and new. You may have walked the sandy beach or the lighthouse pier. You may be aware of Crescent Beach (the sand bar), but you may not fully realize its importance to the bay. Crescent Beach is the isthmus that connects what would otherwise be the island of Charles Point to Lake Bluff. Charles Point and Lake Bluff are very similar in geologic makeup, being mostly clay and hard pan. Crescent Beach consists of stones, gravel and sand.

Lake Ontario separated from Sodus Bay by Cresent Beach

A narrow neck of the Crescent Beach makes for an easy portage for hand-paddlers. Lake Ontario on the left, Sodus Bay on the right side.

Features less likely to be noticed by the casual observer are the armoring of the shoreline at the old lighthouse and the anchoring of the toe of Lake Bluff and its relatively newly installed vegetative covering. The importance of these natural geologic features and man-made improvements to Sodus Bay cannot be overstated. Without them, the northern sides of Sand Point, Leroy and Newark Islands would be exposed to the ravages of Lake Ontario. They would become the new lake shore.

google map of charles point

A Google Map of Charles Point, Sodus Point, Lake Ontario, Sodus Bay – January, 2016

If Plan 2014 is ratified by Canada and the United States we know that we will be faced with higher highs and lower lows than we have experienced under Plan 1958-DD. That is what has been proposed by the IJC. The lows may nourish the shoreline, but the highs will be devastating. While the State and Federal Governments consider the adoption of Plan 2014, a man-made disaster, they are also promoting shoreline resiliency and sustainability in the aftermath of recent natural disasters. They have created their own conundrum.

In the 40s you could cut through the sand bar between Pearl Rooke’s and Bob Bloomer’s with a 14’ small boat and outboard motor. In the late 40s you could do the same at the very eastern end of the sand bar where it joins Lake Bluff. That end had opened up to the lake destroying several boathouses at the base of the bluff on what used to be bay-shore, now gone.

Map of Sodus Bay 1940s

This is an Army Map Service map of Sodus Point New York from the 1940’s.  It was developed as part of the war effort and was distributed to libraries after the war. Please click the image to open a light box, then click expansion icon in the upper right corner to see a large version of it.

In the mid-50s, the middle of the sand bar was washed out for a couple of thousand feet, the sand bar sagged south into the bay a couple of hundred feet, reestablished itself and Knob Island was no more, consumed by the receding sand bar. This tiny island became part of the sand bar where it remains today. Check an older chart like the one in the Sodus Bay Heights entryway. You can see Knob Island and its former separation from the sand bar on this chart.

Low Water on Sodus Bay, NY. Sand Bar is exposed. Photo by David Parker

It’s clear that the sand bar, Crescent Beach, can not only be overtopped but breached, even under the present plan 1958-DD. You could row over it in 1972. The western end narrows to 15 feet during high water and overtops regularly. The 1958-DD upper control limit is 247.30’ and we have seen higher, i.e. 1993. Neither plan offers any guarantee. Plan 2014 doesn’t even advertise control limits but rather “trigger points”. For periods of the year those trigger points are well above the upper control limit of 1958-DD and represent the point at which the new Board of Control may begin to take action; untenable. It is a man-made disaster in the making.

Low Water on Sodus Bay, NY. Sand Bar is exposed copy. Photo by David Parker

The coal trestle and its coal car shakers, coal boats being loaded at the trestle and others anchored out while waiting their turn are gone. No longer is the US Army Corps of Engineers’ hydraulic dredge, the Lyman, working in the channel to maintain its depth at 20 feet or so out beyond the two red and two black buoys in the lake permitting those ships access when loaded.

Google image of Sand Bar

The sand bar has receded significantly into the bay.

Multiple renovations of the piers and break wall now conceal the original wooden pier.

Aerial photo of Sodus bay - barrier bar photo by Steve Boon

Crescent Beach, Sodus Bay, NY. Photo by Steve Boon

With time comes wear and tear. The eastern break wall is in need of repair. The steel sheet pile that protects the lakeside of Charles Point is in need of repair or replacement. The sand bar is threatened by each blow that has a northern wind component, particularly in the absence of shore ice and floating pack ice. Lake Bluff and the old lighthouse sites require monitoring and repair from time to time. Such is life on the water’s edge. Over toppings and even breaches are a part of our future.

A repeat of the early 1970s flooding of Sodus Point remains a real possibility, only worse and with greater frequency. Plan 2014 will only exacerbate the current condition. If we’re going to Save Our Sodus we’re going to have to not only alter behavior within the watershed but prevent the ratification of Plan 2014. The risk Plan 2014 presents is not offset by the hypothetical rewards the study purports and there are alternatives that would allow us to attain the wetland benefits they seek and more. SOS supports this latter approach.

1930s-1940s fishing chart of the Sodus Bay

James Loves came across this old fishing chart online and shared it with HistoricSodusPoint.com. The revision dates  on the upper left (as well as many of the landmarks included) indicate its dates of 1930 – 1940. Please click the image to open a light box, then click expansion icon in the upper right corner to see a large version of it.

The long term protection of Great Sodus Bay depends on constant vigilance and the participation of a broad spectrum of entities. SOS is limited to the role of monitoring conditions and facilitating the necessary maintenance and improvements that are required to preserve the quality of Sodus Bay. We are committed to working in partnership with others to that end.

by David Scudder, 2016.

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Sodus Bay, NY – Trends In Water Quality Report, 2013

SODUS BAY, NY – TRENDS IN WATER QUALITY, 2013 REPORT  was prepared by Rachel Radicello in collaboration with SUNY ESF, Save Our Sodus Inc., and the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District.
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The Great Sodus Embayment Preservation Plan, 2007

This comprehensive 138 page report addresses the following issues:

  • Management options for Sodus Bay’s weed problem
  • Factors behind the eutrophication of Sodus Bay
  • Bathymetric survey – plotting the bay’s water depths and bottom contours
  • The hydrology of Sodus Bay
  • The influx of pollutants to the Bay
  • Recommended management practices for Sodus Bay and its watershed

Please Click on the image to open a PDF file in a separate window or Right Click and Save As to save to your hard drive

The Great Sodus Embayment Preservation Plan, 2007
DONATE NOW

Save Our Sodus works on Your behalf.

Help us Preserve, Protect and Improve Great Sodus Bay – make a one-time or a recurring contribution to SOS.  Secure donations are processed through Network For Good