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nature & waterways

DEC advises motorists to be alert for turtles crossing the road

Photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from April 3 shows a painted turtle on Albion-Eagle Harbor Road in Gaines.

Posted 27 May 2017 at 9:18 am

Drivers asked to consider helping turtles cross the road; Use caution with snapping turtles

Press Release, DEC

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding the public that the state’s native turtles are on the move in May and June seeking sandy areas or loose soil to lay their eggs.

Drivers that see a turtle on the road should use caution and should not swerve suddenly or leave their lane of travel, but take care to avoid hitting turtles while driving.

In New York, thousands of turtles are killed each year when they are struck by vehicles as the turtles migrate to their nesting areas. New York’s 11 native species of land turtles are in decline, and turtles can take more than 10 years to reach breeding age. The reptiles lay just one small clutch of eggs each year, which means the loss of a breeding female can have a significant effect on the local turtle population.

This time of year, it is especially important to be on the lookout for turtles and to drive cautiously, particularly on roads near rivers and marshy areas. If a turtle is spotted on the road or near the shoulder, drivers should safely stop their vehicle and consider moving the turtle to the side of the road in the direction the reptile is facing.

Picking the turtle up by its tail may frighten or injure the reptile. Most turtles can be picked up by the side of their shells.

It’s important to use extreme caution when moving snapping turtles; either pick the turtle up at the rear of the shell near the tail using two hands, or slide a car mat under the turtle to drag the turtle across the road. Do not take the turtle into personal possession. All native turtles are protected by law and cannot be collected without a permit.

Boaters urged to show extra caution due to debris in lake and tributaries

Posted 27 May 2017 at 8:50 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: A boater passes through the channel at Oak Orchard Harbor at Point Breeze in this photo from May 28, 2015. Boaters are being asked to respect a 500-foot no-wake zone near the shore due to high Lake Ontario waters.

Press Release, Orleans County Undersheriff Chris Bourke

Orleans County Sheriff’s Undersheriff Christopher Bourke would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the 2017 boating and fishing season is upon us and the Sheriff’s Office Marine Division is in service and ready to assist people enjoying the waterways of Orleans County this summer.

Despite Lake Ontario and the rivers being at an all-time high, small craft boating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing is allowable and has not been restricted in any way. Sheriff Randy Bower is asking boaters to take into consideration the erosion occurring along shoreline properties and to respect a 500 feet no-wake zone when near shore. The lakes and rivers have debris in them so extra caution should be taken so as to not damage your vessel or equipment.

Many privately owned marinas are open but may be partially underwater so it is best to contact them for launching and docking arrangements. The Orleans County Launch at Point Breeze and the state boat launch on Archibald Road are open, as well as the boat launches at Lake Alice, Glenwood Lake and the Erie Canal.

The Orleans County Marine Park on Point Breeze Road is also open and ready for the season with our newly constructed playground for children, pavilions, picnic tables and bathroom facilities.

Please call 585-589-3102 or check out the Orleans County Tourism website and Facebook page for updates on dock rental at the Marine Park as well as upcoming summer activities such as our fantastic “Tuesday Night in the Park” Summer Concert Series, Classic Car Cruise Nights and great family events.

Also please refer to the Tourism webpage and Facebook page for their weekly fishing report as Orleans County continues to be one of the premier fishing destinations in the country.

For any questions regarding upcoming boater’s safety classes, requests for vessels safety checks, or general questions for the Sheriff’s Marine Division, you may call the Marine Office at 585-682-4366.

The Sheriff’s Office wishes everyone a safe summer.

Conservation Field Days give students a chance to learn about many earth-friendly topics

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Megan McAnn, a Soil and Water Technician, discusses the impact of soil erosion on the environment – both in farm fields and in cities and towns.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 25 May 2017 at 11:21 am

KNOWLESVILLE – Sixth-graders from all five school districts in Orleans County are taking part in the annual Orleans 4-H Conservation Field Days on Wednesday and today.

The event at Orleans County Fairgrounds in Knowlesville brings Cornell Cooperative Extension and many agencies in the community together. It’s a hands-on, outdoors event that allows students to interact with professionals and experts from many fields, including environmental conservation, wildlife management, energy conservation, horticulture and water/boating safety with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department.

“The students get a lot out of it,” said Orleans County 4-H Program Coordinator Missy Call. “It sticks with them, many people as adults remember their Conservation Field Days experience. It’s a great tradition that we are proud to keep going.”

Bob Barrus and Tyler Barrus of the Orleans County Sheriffs Department, discuss water and boating safety with students.

Students visit the log cabin on the fairgrounds and learn about the use of hunting and trapping in wildlife management. Mark Gregoire discusses the need for wildlife management and how it effects the environment.

Meaghan Boice-Green of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation helps students learn about “energy contenders.”  Students had a chance to see if their “energy company” could come out ahead in the battle for natural resources.

Siblings Andrew (back to camera) and Claudia Drechsel of Holley returned to Conservation Field Days with their heritage sheep. Both are 4-Hers and students at Holley Middle School/High School. They shared their knowledge of heritage breeds, what makes them unique and why it is important to preserve heritage breeds.

The Drechsels brought samples of the sheep’s wool for students to touch and hold. The Drechsels discussed how sheep’s wool is processed.

One of the most popular stations is station #10 – “Conserve electricity – turn off Xbox and play with a dog”.  4-Hers in the Orleans County 4-H Dog Program teach students about dog agility. Here “Gemma” runs through an obstacle course with the help of Amber Kiefer.

Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Judy Larkin shows students from Lyndonville Central School worms working to compost food scraps. Master Gardeners discussed backyard composting and vermi-composting (worm composting) – which utilizes a worm bin.

Other topics covered by educational stations included a wildlife habitat walk, green power/energy conservation, rabies with the Orleans County Health Department, mammal identification with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Sunrise Bees with information on the importance of honeybees in agricultural production as well as the importance of beekeeping to human survival.

Students from Holley, Lyndonville and Medina Central Schools visited the fairgrounds on Wednesday. Students from Kendall and Albion Central Schools will participate in Conservation Field Days today.

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Hawley touts free recreational boating on canal this year

Staff Reports Posted 23 May 2017 at 8:04 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: The lights are on early in the morning at this large canal vessel in Albion. This photo was taken in October 2014.

The Erie Canal opened for its 193rd boating season on Friday. The season continues until Oct. 11 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“In celebration of the bicentennial and tremendous heritage of the canal, I am pleased to announce that permit fees for recreational vessels will be waived this year and the New York State Canal Corporation will be hosting a series of events in towns along the canal from Albany to Buffalo,” State Assemblyman Steve Hawley said in a news release. “I encourage all of my constituents to attend one of these fun events this summer and learn more about the Erie Canal and its history by visiting www.canals.ny.gov  or eriecanalway.org.”

The canal opened in 1825, following eight years of construction. This year is the start of an bicentennial celebration because construction started in 1817.

“The Erie Canal is one example of how New York has been a leader in innovation, commerce and transportation for centuries,” Hawley said. “My Assembly District alone contains 56 percent of all lift bridges on the Erie Canal system and I have seen firsthand how thriving communities like Brockport, Medina, Albion, Holley, Murray, Ridgeway, Sweden, Gaines and Hulberton have benefited and will continue to benefit from the increased tourism and commerce.”

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$10 million for municipalities to repair roads, public water infrastructure damaged from Lake Ontario flooding, erosion

Posted 22 May 2017 at 10:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: A section of Thompson Drive at the western end of Kendall has been eaten up by Lake Ontario.

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $10 million in state funding is available to assist eligible local municipalities that have been impacted by the recent flooding along the Lake Ontario coastline. The new investment program will support flood recovery efforts, including repairs to flood walls, roads, sidewalks, and culverts, as well as public water and sewer infrastructure.

The funding is available through New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The program will be open to applications for funding from municipal governments in counties that were identified in Governor Cuomo’s May 2, 2017 emergency declaration.

Earlier this month, the Governor declared a State of Emergency in Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, and Wayne counties for the region in order to expedite repairs to impacted structures and construction of shoreline stabilization projects. Additionally, staff from the Lake Ontario Rapid Response Team continue to be deployed to assist residents and monitor response efforts along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

“As Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River continue to slowly rise, we must do everything in our power to ease the financial and personal toll on our families and communities, while fortifying our infrastructure to ensure its continued viability,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this available funding, we are ramping up our multi-agency response efforts to help these communities and provide the assistance that they need now.”

Since the end of April, more than 1.2 million sandbags have been deployed to help localities mitigate against damage to their homes and businesses, along with 11 sandbagging machines – at least one in each effected county. In addition, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has deployed field teams to provide on-the-ground technical assistance and coordination with state and local emergency management personnel.

“Our communities on Lake Ontario are working hard to fight off flood damage to roads, floodwalls and the public water infrastructure in several locations along the lakefront spanning from Jefferson County to Niagara,” Lieutenant Governor Hochul said during the announcement in Fair Haven today. “Governor Cuomo has committed $10 million in state funding to help make needed infrastructure repairs in these communities, and we will continue our ongoing support in manpower, sandbagging and assistance at our Mobile Command Center.”

Report Suspected Price Gouging

The Governor is asking residents to report suspected price gouging to the Lake Ontario Flood Assistance Hotline at 866-244-3839. The hotline is available for residents and businesses concerned about potential price gouging or other exploitative practices by service providers in the area. If you believe you are being charged excessive prices for any essential consumer goods or services during the present disaster situation, you are urged to call the hotline and staff will connect you to the Department of State Division of Consumer Protection.

Emergency Response Mobile Command Centers

In addition, the state will continue to deploy Emergency Response Mobile Command Centers staffed by Department of Financial Services personnel who can help residents navigate the insurance claim process. Since the deployment of the Emergency Response Mobile Command Centers, over 700 individuals have asked for insurance assistance at the various locations in the eight affected counties.

Department of Environmental Conservation experts are also available at the Mobile Command Centers to help answer questions on the Storm Recovery General Permit, describe the specific types of repair and stabilization work authorized, and provide assistance in completing the application form. In certain instances, based on the available information provided by applicants, DEC will provide permits on-site or expedite further review and field visits necessary to issue permits. To obtain the required authorization under this General Permit, residents should come prepared by reading the General Permit and Application Instructions; determine whether or not the proposed work is within the scope of the General Permit; fill out the Application for General Permit GP-0-17-006 and provide drawings, plans, photos (if available) and a location map.

In addition, DEC has deployed a team of experienced coastal engineers to Lake Ontario to meet with property owners, conduct site visits and offer technical assistance. DEC’s engineers stand ready to work with property owners so that protective structures can be repaired and homeowners can take appropriate actions expeditiously. To date, DEC has issued 247 permits.

The NYS Emergency Response Mobile Command Centers will be at the below locations over the next five days. In addition, those who are not able to visit the Emergency Response Mobile Command Center can call the Department of Financial Service’s Disaster Hotline at 1-800-339-1759, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 8 p.m. for help with insurance-related issues.

The NYS Emergency Response Mobile Command Center will be back in Orleans County in Carlton on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Orleans County Marine Park, Point Breeze Road (Route 98).

Regional Resource Deployment

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Emergency Management continues to coordinate with county and local partners in monitoring the rising levels of Lake Ontario and additional resources from other state stockpiles have been shifted to locations in Monroe county in the event that conditions worsen. To date, more than 1.2 million sandbags have been deployed to affected communities to help mitigate flooding.

Currently, assets have been deployed to Orleans County, including 130,000 sandbags distributed, 1 sandbagger, 52 National Guard members, State sandbagging operation at 14410 Route 31 in Albion, 3 Department of Corrections and Community Supervision inmate crews with two in the Town of Kendall and one in the Town of Carlton.

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Canal opened today for new season

Staff Reports Posted 19 May 2017 at 4:55 pm

Many events planned statewide to commemorate bicentennial of canal construction

File photo by Tom Rivers: The Lois McClure, a wooden schooner built as a replica of a canal boat from the 1860s, is pictured in Albion during a visit on the canal in August 2013. The boat will be back in Orleans County this August.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled a series of celebrations and events being planned across New York State to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal.

An engineering marvel that stimulated trade, exploration and invention, the canal project created the first superhighway across New York, connecting Albany and Buffalo and improving transportation to and from New York City by linking the Hudson River to Lake Erie.

“The Erie Canal was critical in establishing New York as a national hub for commerce and industry, and today offers boaters unparalleled views and access to our canalside communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “In commemorating this anniversary, we celebrate the canal’s rich heritage as well as its pivotal role in promoting economic development and tourism today. I urge visitors to come experience the many events planned for the bicentennial celebration.”

Today was also the start of the 2017 boating season on the 524-mile canal system for recreational vessels, which are now the primary users of the canals. The season runs through Oct. 11.

To celebrate the bicentennial, permit fees for recreational vessels, normally costing $25-$100, have been waived by the Canal Corporation this year.

A ceremony to mark the occasion was held in Waterford, the eastern terminus of the canal, where Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul gave the orders to open the gate at Lock 2, where more than 20 boats were waiting to begin their canal journey.

“For 200 years, the Erie Canal has been at the heart of our economy and one of the most important factors in the development of the Empire State,” said Hochul, who officiated the opening of the locks at Waterford. “As we begin the 2017 season and the bicentennial celebration of this technical marvel, we are challenged to match the inspiration of previous generations of New Yorkers and leave a legacy as great and lasting as theirs.”

It was on April 15, 1817, the New York State legislature approved construction of the Erie Canal, connecting Albany to Buffalo. Crews began work following the ceremonial first dig on July 4, 1817, in Rome, Oneida County. The canal was officially completed on October 26, 1825.

The towns established along the canal now offer annual festivals, living history re-enactments and hands-on museums that celebrate the region’s rich past and the communities that live along the canal today.

“This will be an exciting year to visit the canals,” said Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton. “Come experience our unique destinations and celebrate the Erie Canal Bicentennial with the more than 200 communities within the corridor and be a part of a history that is still being written every day.”

The New York State Canal Corporation will co-host bicentennial events with communities along the canal.

The 1862 replica canal boat “Lois McClure” will travel across the state, including the length of the Erie Canal, visiting towns and villages along the way, as crews from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum show visitors what life was like aboard a canal boat. The Lois McClure will be in Holley on Aug. 8  and in Medina on Aug. 10.

Other events include:

• Amsterdam, June 9, with a festival and fireworks at Riverlink Park, home to the new Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Bridge;

• Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, June 10, all day canal-themed events and barbeque, where you can see the remnants of the original Erie Canal, the enlarged canal and current configuration of the Barge Canal;

• Lockport, July 8, home to the famed “Flight of Five,” a set of five locks dating to the 1860s. The Flight once effectively acted as “stairs for boats” heading up the Niagara Escarpment, the long cliff that runs east/west across New York that famously includes Niagara Falls;

• Rochester, July 14-15, featuring an Erie Canal forum and a day of family-friendly events and music, both held at the Strong National Museum of Play; and

• Rome, July 22, an all-day event at Bellamy Harbor Park, featuring a first-dig re-enactment, an arts and crafts fair, concerts and fireworks.

• A new Erie Canal exhibit, “New York’s Erie Canal: Gateway to a Nation,” will open this fall at the New York State Museum in Albany.

• In Lockport, the Kenan Center, celebrating its 50th anniversary, will have a special exhibition of Erie Canal photographs.

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High waters don’t deter big fish

Photos by Tom Rivers: This group from Port Austin, Michigan is pictured with the grand prize winning salmon in the Lake Ontario Counties Fishing Derby, which concluded today with an awards program at the Bald Eagle Marina in Kendall. The 27-pound, 8-ounce salmon won the $15,000 grand prize. The group includes, from left: Paul Nienaltowski, Kenny Rutz, Chris McConnell and Alex Nienaltowski.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2017 at 7:50 pm

LOC Derby ends with celebration in Kendall

KENDAL — The fish are still biting in Lake Ontario, despite all the media reports of doom on the lake. The high waters and erosion don’t bother the fish, sports fishing promotion officials said today during an awards presentation at Bald Eagle Marina in Kendall.

“The lake isn’t off limits,” said Bill Hiltz Jr., a long-time sportsfishing promoter in Niagara County. “Once you get on the lake, the fishing is still good.”

Hilts was in Kendall today as emcee for the Spring Lake Ontario Counties Derby. About 4,500 people fished in the LOC Derby, where $44,350 in prize money was up for grabs. There are also summer and fall LOC fishing derbies. The awards ceremonies are typically at Captain Jack’s, a tavern in Sodus Point. But a road to that site was blocked off due to flooding.

LOC organizers decided to have the awards show in Kendall at the Bald Eagle Marina, which is a new weigh station for the derby. The Bald Eagle Marina has floating docks that move up or down, depending on the lake levels. It’s boat launch remains open.

Other marinas with stationary docks are struggling due to the high lake levels, or their boat launches aren’t open.

Dave Chilson, owner and director of the LOC Derby, said fishermen and the sports fishing industry remains concerned about access at some marinas. Chilson also worries the extensive media coverage of the high lake waters, erosion and flooding may scare off fishermen and customers for the marinas and lakeside businesses.

“All of the publicity has made it worse,” Chilson said about the impact on businesses by the lake.

A group from Port Austin, Michigan made their second annual trip to Lake Ontario. They stayed in Wilson and caught the biggest fish, a 27-pound, 8-ounce salmon. They caught it off the Niagara bar, near the mouth of the Niagara River. The group brought its own boat from Michigan and tried to launch it in St. Catharines, Canada, but those marinas were off limits due to the high lake and flooding.

They were directed to Wilson, where they were able to get their boat in the water.

Pul Nienaltowski reeled in the fish on May 9. He said Lake Huron has few salmon. He and his brother and their friends like the Chinook salmon. They put up a fight when they are caught, Nienaltowski said.

Chilson moved the awards program to the Bald Eagle Marina, which is opening a restaurant, Lures, next month, and is making other improvements.

“We wanted to highlight it because it’s obviously a great facility,” Chilson said.

Other first place winners include:

• Chinook salmon, 25 pounds, 5 ounces – Lee Beaton of Clifton Springs, NY

• Brown trout, 16 pounds, 12 ounces – David Rafle of Edinboro, Pa.

• Lake trout, 22 pounds, 10 ounces – Brian Marketich of Beaver Falls, Pa.

• Walleye, 13 pounds, 1 ounce – Mitch Franz of Henderson Harbor, NY

David Rafle of Edinboro, Pa. talks about his first-place winning brown trout. All of the first place winners won $1,000. David Chilson, center, is the LOC president and director. Bill Hilts, Jr., left, served as emcee for the event.

 

 

 

 

 

Mama swan helps babies on maiden voyage

Staff Reports Posted 14 May 2017 at 12:06 pm

Photos courtesy of Doug Boyer
LAKE ALICE – A mama swan helps her six babies take their maiden voyage in Lake Alice. Doug Boyer has sent similar milestone photos before of a mother swan helping her babies on the maiden voyage. The event usually happens around Mothers’ Day.

He took these photos on Saturday evening.


“This never gets old!” Boyer said in an email. “Six baby swans on mama’s back. We have only seen her one time in the last six weeks, when papa took a turn sitting on the eggs.”

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Oak Orchard roars at Waterport Dam

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 May 2017 at 11:19 pm

WATERPORT – The Oak Orchard River has been roaring at the Waterport Dam since the big rain storm on Monday, followed by continued steady rain. The waterfalls at the dam is pictured this morning.

This photo from October 2013 shows how the waterfalls looked without so much rain.

The inflows at the power plant are obscured from all of the water this morning.

Here is how the spot looked in October 2013. It is a popular fishing spot in the fall when the salmon make their annual run.

The Oak Orchard and other streams and creeks in the county all are carrying more water than normal after the deluge of rain this past week, following a rainy April.

The Oak Orchard was misty with foam floating this morning.

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Canal Corp. works to fix leak near Keitel Road in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 May 2017 at 2:42 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The State Canal Corp. has made a temporary fix to a leak in the canal between the Keitel Road and Densmore Road bridges. The leak was on the southside bank by the Albion Sportsmen’s Club (the former Peck’s Quarry).

The state used concrete blocks and a fabric covered with pea gravel to make a short-term fix, according to an Orleans County official.

The Canal Corp. is digging down to see if additional action is needed.

Orleans Hub left a message with the Canal Corp. on Tuesday but hasn’t received a call back.

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