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nature & waterways

Golden Hill State Park battered by waves

Staff Reports Posted 30 April 2017 at 10:31 pm

Photos by Cheryl Wertman

BARKER – Golden Hill State Park, just west of the Orleans County line in Barker, took plenty of hits today from the big waves on Lake Ontario.

Cheryl Wertman was at the park and took these photos of waves slamming into the shoreline.

The water sprays at the boat launch at the state park.

The big waves send water over the path at the boat launch.

This pair of swans try to seek refuge at the boat launch.

This photo is looking west from the Drake Ruins site. There used to be a beach there that went out several feet.

The pier by the lighthouse is nearly submerged with water.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Orleans, Niagara and western Monroe counties from 6 a.m today until 11 p.m.

The lake is about 20 inches above normal before more rain hit today.

Orleans County and the towns of Carlton, Kendall and Yates remain under a state of emergency due to the high lake levels.

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Big waves pound the shoreline

Photos by Tom Rivers: This photo shows the eastern pier at Oak Orchard Harbor getting walloped with waves this morning.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2017 at 12:53 pm

‘There’s some serious erosion going on.’ – Dale Banker, Emergency Management Office coordinator

CARLTON – Waves are pounding the shoreline in Orleans County today along Lake Ontario. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Orleans and Niagara counties until 11 p.m.

The lake was already 18 inches above normal before more rain hit today. Northeast winds are creating waves that could top 6 to 7 feet high on the western end of the lake.

All roads in the county are currently open except for Park Road in Carlton, which is pictured here. That road is off Lakeside Park Road near Kuckville.

“There’s some serious erosion going on,” said Dale Banker, Orleans County’s Emergency Management Office coordinator.

Orleans County and the towns of Yates, Carlton and Kendall have all declared a state of emergency due to the rising lake level. The declaration goes back to April 20 and remains in effect.

Banker said some of the shoreline is protected with break walls, but there are gaps and the vulnerable areas are shedding soil.

The towns of Carlton, Yates and Kendall all had about 10,000 sandbags to help residents protect their houses. Banker said Kendall has distributed about 7,500 of those sandbags, and Yates and Carlton also have many in place to help protect foundations and property.

Inmates from the Orleans Correctional Facility, Wyoming Correctional Facility and the county jail have all helped fill sandbags.

The waves are hitting the shore hard along Park Road in Carlton. The road is currently off limits to motorists.

Even this Canada goose doesn’t like the turbulence down at Point Breeze this morning from the crashing waves.

This section of the shoreline by the Carlton-Yates townline is vulnerable from the waves.

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Congressman sees Lake Ontario property damage

Photo by Tom Rivers: The high Lake Ontario waters are having an effect on streams and creeks as well. This photo shows the docks by Captain’s Cove in Carlton, where portions of the docks are under water. This photo was taken on Sunday evening.

Posted 25 April 2017 at 11:44 am

Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins

Congressman Chris Collins today released the following statement after he inspected property damage at two homes along Lake Ontario’s southern shoreline and hosted a stakeholders meeting to discuss his coordinated efforts with both the Trump Administration and local officials to end the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Plan 2014.

“Plan 2014 has been an utter disaster for Lake Ontario taxpayers and communities since it was approved in the final minutes of the Obama Administration,” said Congressman Collins. “Both the property damage and overflow of debris into Lake Ontario that I inspected today could have been avoided. I came here today to assure local officials and Lake Ontario homeowners that I am working with the Trump Administration to reform the IJC and repeal Plan 2014 as soon as possible.”

According to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, current water levels in Lake Ontario are already nineteen inches higher than average and are on track to rise another eleven inches by May 14th. The IJC’s inability to release water into the St. Lawrence River until the Lake’s “trigger level” has been reached has created significant property damage to businesses and communities along Lake Ontario’s southern shoreline. Congressman Collins and Niagara County officials toured impacted households and met with community members.

“We’re glad Congressman Collins and his staff have been monitoring this situation with us, and taking the necessary steps to make resources available to protect lakeshore residents’ safety,” said David Godfrey, Niagara County Legislator (R-Wilson). “Equally important, though, has been the Congressman’s commitment to delivering change to the International Joint Commission, and ensuring that it acts to protect the people that live along the shores of our Great Lakes and boundary waterways. Plan 2014 was a serious error on the IJC’s part and it needs to be repealed.”

Following the damage inspection, Congressman Collins hosted a meeting at the Olcott Yacht Club with local stakeholders to discuss Plan 2014 and the devastating impact it is having on Lake Ontario’s water levels, local properties and businesses. Congressman Collins took this opportunity to brief attendees on his recent work in coordination with the Trump Administration to reform the IJC and protect Lake Ontario property owners.

In January 2017, Congressman Collins and Congressman John Katko (NY-24) sent correspondence to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, to bring the issue of Plan 2014 to his attention.

Most recently, Congressman Collins and Congressman Katko sent correspondence to President Trump in which they requested he withdraw the United States from Plan 2014 as soon as possible. Both Congressman Collins and Katko also requested the three International Joint Commission commissioners representing the United States be removed and subsequently replaced with newly appointed individuals who understand the fundamental flaws of Plan 2014.

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Several canal cleanup events planned for Saturday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 April 2017 at 12:20 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: Gary Hill and his son Dan are shown picking up trash along the Erie Canal on April 26, 2014. They were part of a group from the Sons of the American Legion in Medina. There will be another trash pickup this Saturday along the Towpath from the Glenwood Avenue Bridge to the Bates Road boat launch.

Volunteers are welcome to help with trash pickups along the Erie Canal this Saturday. There will be cleanup efforts in Holley, Albion and Medina for the 12th annual Canal Clean Sweep.

Last year more than 100 Clean Sweep events were held on the canal system.

This Saturday there will be cleanup events at the following locations in Orleans County:

• Albion – The Albion Betterment Committee welcomes volunteers to meet at 9 a.m. at Dunkin Donuts, 157 South Main Street.

The group will then go to Erie Canal, heading east and west in the Town of Albion, picking up trash on both shores.

• Holley – The Masonic Lodge No. 713 in Kendall will start at 9 a.m. at the Holley Canal Park on East Avenue.

Masons will clean the towpath on both sides of the canal from the Canal Park eastward to Countyline Road.

• Medina –Sons of the American Legion will start at 9 a.m. at the Legion Post on North Main Street. They will pick up trash from the Post, heading east to the Bates Road canal launch ramp. The Sons will also work on landscaping at Glenwood Avenue bridge over the Erie Canal.

• Medina – The Medina Lions Club also will do its annual environmental cleanup day, starting at Lions Park on North Gravel Road (Route 63) at 9 a.m.

The Lions will work with Boy Scouts, students from the Iroquois Job Corps to clean up public areas along the canal in the village. They will also spread mulch and work on gardens. Community members are welcome to help with the cleanup from 9 a.m. to noon.

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White pelican spotted at Lake Alice

Staff Reports Posted 16 April 2017 at 8:22 am

CARLTON – Doug Boyer, a nature photographer who lives by Lake Alice, captured these photos of a white pelican at the lake on Saturday.

“You will not believe we saw a white pelican today on Lake Alice, but I have 7 witnesses,” Boyer said in an email with the photos.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the white pelican as “a huge waterbird with very broad wings, a long neck, and a massive bill that gives the head a unique, long shape. They have thick bodies, short legs, and short, square tails. During the breeding season, adults grow an unusual projection or horn on the upper mandible near the tip of the bill.”

The white pelicans are typically found along coasts in winter, they can be found in California’s Central Valley, the Salton Sea, and the Colorado River drainage of California and Arizona. They also spend the winter in Florida.

“They are superb soarers (they are among the heaviest flying birds in the world) and often travel long distances in large flocks by soaring,” according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “When flapping, their wingbeats are slow and methodical.”

For more on white pelicans, click here.

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Trout and salmon season opens on Saturday

Staff Reports Posted 31 March 2017 at 1:30 pm

DEC will stock 31,350 brown trout in Lake Ontario at Carlton

File photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from May 28, 2015 shows Joel Fuller standing on a rock along the pier with the sun setting at Point Breeze.

The 2017 trout and salmon fishing season begins on Saturday. The best early season angling opportunities for trout are typically in lakes and ponds, with some of the best fishing found immediately after ice thaws, according to an announcement today from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation operates 12 fish hatcheries in New York and plans to stock more than 2.2 million catchable-size brook, brown and rainbow trout in 314 lakes and ponds and roughly 2,850 miles of streams across the state, which over the course of the spring will include 1.6 million brown trout, 426,300 rainbow trout, and 160,200 brook trout.

That’s in addition to the stocking of nearly 2 million yearling lake trout, steelhead, landlocked salmon, splake, Chinook salmon, and coho salmon that will grow over the years to become catchable size fish.

In Orleans County the DEC will stock 31,350 “catchable” brown trout in Lake Ontario at Carlton. Those fish will be 8 to 9 inches long.

“New York is home to world-class fishing in virtually every corner of the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “From the Catskills to the Adirondacks, from the Finger Lakes to Lake Ontario, or a small stream or neighborhood pond, I encourage New Yorkers and visitors alike to get out and enjoy all the great fishing that New York’s waters have to offer.”

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DEC says no new deer cases of Chronic Wasting Disease for 11th straight year

Posted 28 March 2017 at 2:15 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: These deer are pictured in March 2015 on Route 98 in Gaines, south of 104.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced today that of the more than 2,400 white-tailed deer tested last season, none tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.

Since 2002, DEC has tested more than 40,000 wild white-tailed deer for CWD.

“Preventing the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease in New York State is among DEC’s top wildlife priorities,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “We’re working hard to ensure the health of our deer herd and to protect the recreational and viewing opportunities deer provide. We recognize that hunters play an important role in keeping CWD out of New York, because the most effective way to protect New York’s deer herd is to keep out CWD.”

CWD is a highly contagious disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and reindeer. CWD is always fatal and there are no vaccines or treatments available. CWD is caused by a misfolded protein called a “prion” that can infect animals through animal-to-animal contact or via contaminated environments.

In 2005, CWD was found in captive and wild white-tailed deer in Oneida County. After intensive disease response efforts, no subsequent cases have been detected. In the 2016-2017 surveillance period, 2,447 samples were tested from hunter-harvested deer and 102 clinical deer that appeared sick or abnormal. DEC partners with meat processors and taxidermists to obtain samples each year.

For wildlife diseases like CWD, prevention is the most effective management policy. There are several recommendations for both hunters and anyone that encounters deer that will prevent introduction of infectious prions, including:

  1. Do not use deer urine-based lures or cover scents. Prions are shed in a deer’s bodily fluids before the deer appears sick. Prions bind to soil and plants and remain infectious to deer that ingest contaminated soil. There is no method of disinfection.
  2. Dispose of carcass waste, even from New York deer, into a proper waste stream either by putting butcher scrap in with your household trash or otherwise assuring it ends up in a licensed landfill. Landowners may dispose of their own deer on their property, but it is illegal for businesses such as butchers and taxidermists to dispose of waste generated from their business in any way other than a landfill or rendering facility.
  3. Debone or quarter your deer before you bring it back to New York. This practice removes “high risk” parts such as the brain and spinal cord that could potentially spread CWD. If a whole intact carcass is brought in from a prohibited state, province, or any high-fence shooting facility, the person will be ticketed and the entire animal, including trophy heads, will be confiscated and destroyed. Meat, hide and cape, antlers, cleaned skull cap with antlers attached, finished taxidermy mounts, tanned hides, and clean upper canine teeth are permitted.
  4. Do not feed wild deer or moose. Animals concentrated together can spread disease quickly.

In the event of a CWD outbreak in New York, state agencies are prepared. DEC has an Interagency CWD Response Plan with the Department of Agriculture and Markets if the disease is detected in either captive cervids or wild white-tailed deer or moose. There are no documented cases of CWD infecting humans, but DEC urges caution when handling or processing CWD-susceptible animals.

For more information on CWD, click here.

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Education Day gets gardeners ready for spring

Photos courtesy of Katie Oakes: Jena Buckwell from Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District demonstrates the effects of tillage on soil.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 28 March 2017 at 10:07 am

Master Gardener Alex Greene demonstrates how to make a bird/butterfly water bath using recycled materials.

KNOWLESVILLE – Gardeners from around Orleans County gathered this past Saturday at the Education Center on the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds to celebrate the start of spring and get prepared for the upcoming growing season.

Master Gardener volunteers hosted their annual Spring into Gardening Education Day and led several sessions on growing healthy plants.

“This fun-filled educational event featured presentations on eight different gardening topics taught by volunteers from Cornell Cooperative Extension programs as well as local non-profit organizations,” said Katie Oakes, Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator/Master Gardener coordinator.

Oakes said participation numbers this year were significantly higher than last year.

“Spring Ed Day is a fantastic start to our event season,” Oakes said. “We are really excited about what 2017 will bring for our volunteer group.”

Participants were able to select four sessions from the eight offered. Topics this year included gardening basics such as soil health led by Soil and Water Conservation District representative Jena Buckwell, Garden Composition with Master Gardener Karen Cavanaugh, Outdoor Mushroom Production with Wyoming County CCE Educator Don Gasiewiscz and pest management strategies with Master Gardener Michael Klepp.

“Everyone enjoyed the day,” Master Gardener president Barb Linhart said. “Many people had a hard time deciding which class to attend because all the topics were so interesting.”

Participant Susan Persia said she walked away with new and valuable information to start the gardening season.

“I think it was an excellent day,” she observed, “very well planned (and) something we can’t get every day.”

For more information on upcoming Master Gardener events for 2017, visit

Pat Bono from NY Bee Wellness poses with demonstration information following her presentation on honeybees.







Canal will open about 3 weeks later this year, and close about 6 weeks earlier

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 March 2017 at 10:14 am

No fees or tolls for recreational boaters in 2017

File photo by Tom Rivers: The Tug Syracuse is pictured on the canal in Hulberton on Aug. 21, 2014.

The Erie Canal will open about three weeks later than it did in 2016, according to a schedule announced by the State Canal Corp. on Tuesday.

The canal system will open on May 19 and continue until Oct. 11. Last year, the canal opened on April 27, its earliest opening day since 1982. A mild winter last year allowed staff to complete maintenance projects and get ready for the canal’s opening ahead of schedule.

The canal last year was open for boaters until Nov. 20. This year, it will close about six weeks earlier.

This year will be the first since the canal’s ownership was moved from the State Thruway Authority to the New York Power Authority. The Thruway Authority ran the canal system since 1992.

This year also marks the beginning of an eight-year bicentennial of the canal’s construction, which started in 1817 and was completed in 1825. In honor of the beginning of the 200th anniversary celebration, there will be no fees or tolls for recreational boaters in 2017.

The hours of operation for the 2017 season are as follows: May 19 to October 11: 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

In addition to the boating schedule, the seven lift bridges in Orleans County will operate on demand from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. from May 19 to September 13. Vessels are required to arrive at a lock at least 15 minutes prior to closing to ensure being locked through, and at a bridge at least 5 minutes prior to ensure an opening, the Canal Corporation said.

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Governor launches Plastic Bag Task Force

Posted 12 March 2017 at 4:49 pm

23 billion plastic bags annually have environmental, financial costs

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force. The Task Force will be led by state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos along with co-chairs Senator Thomas O’Mara and Assemblyman Steve Englebright. The working group will be charged with developing a report and proposed legislation to address the detrimental impact of plastic bags on the state’s environment.

“New York has led the nation by taking bold action to protect our environment – and this task force marks another step forward in that effort,” Governor Cuomo said. “The costly and negative impact of plastic bags on New York’s natural resources is a statewide issue that demands a statewide solution. This diverse coalition of experts will bring the experience and knowledge necessary to tackle this problem and safeguard New York’s environment for future generations.”

Members of the Task Force will work to develop a uniform and equitable statewide plan to address New York’s plastic bag problem. The Task Force will review information from municipalities about their experiences and proposed solutions. Members of the Task Force include:

• Basil Seggos, Commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

• Senator Thomas O’Mara, New York State Senate

• Assemblyman Steve Englebright, New York State Assembly

• Stephen Acquario, Executive Director, New York State Association of Counties

• Marcia Bystryn, New York League of Conservation Voters

• Michael Rosen, Food Industry Alliance

Across New York, residents use 23 billion plastic bags annually. A significant number of these bags make their way into the environment causing litter and damaging wildlife, which can be seen within our waterways, along our streets and in our oceans and lakes. Moreover, these bags do not biodegrade – they persist for years.

The New York City Department of Sanitation currently estimates that it collects an average of 1,700 tons of plastic bags per week, costing $12.5 million per year in disposal expenses. As states across the nation struggle with the environmental and financial costs associated plastic bags – New York will lead the way in developing a comprehensive statewide solution.

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