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nature & waterways

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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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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