nature & waterways

Master gardener urges ‘Leave the Leaves!’ to benefit soil health, nature

Photo by Katie Oakes: These Honey Locust leaves at the fairgrounds will compost in place and add nutrients and organic matter to the soil below. 

Posted 6 October 2023 at 1:00 pm

Contributed by Master Gardener Deb Roberts

The trees are turning beautiful colors…and the leaves are falling onto everything!  Before you just blow or rake those leaves into bags or to the street, STOP! There is an alternative that will improve the environment, save you money, beautify your yard, and save pollinators & other important creatures – LEAVE THE LEAVES!

According to US EPA reports we have 40 million acres of lawn in the United States making it the number one crop! The US EPA estimates that leaves and other yard debris make up 13% of our solid waste that goes to landfills. By keeping our leaves, we are reducing the solid waste in landfills and the methane they create.  Think of it as recycling in place.

Now, leaving the leaves doesn’t mean you have to just leave them where they lay, though you could, but they may not be in the best location to provide all these benefits. The optimal action you can take is to rake your leaves into garden beds or other plantings as mulch up to about 6 inches deep.

Over time the leaf mulch breaks down into the perfect fertilizer.  Also you can rake them into deeper circle-piles around established trees as mulch.  The mulch helps to retain moisture and to reduce run-off from sudden rains.

If you have extra leaves from sidewalks or driveways, leaves can be composted in a bin or pile in a corner of your yard.  A light layer of leaves can be left on grass where it will break down into fertilizer as well. All of which saves you money next year on buying mulch and fertilizers, plus it beautifies your yard – two for one!

There are exceptions, however. Black Walnut leaves and Pine Needles can inhibit desired plant growth and alter soil chemistry, so those are best kept out of your garden beds.

You may have mowed the leaves laying on the lawn in the past, which is another alternative, however leaves are a vital wildlife habitat providing food, shelter and nests for many species.  Toads, turtles, birds, butterflies in their various stages, fireflies, and bumblebees are among them. Most butterflies and moths do not migrate like the Monarch, most of them live their entire life cycle in a yard!

By leaving a layer of leaves around trees, it creates a “soft landing” for insects that drop from the tree to the ground  where they overwinter. Swallowtail butterflies and Luna moths use leaves to attach their cocoons.

Wooly bear caterpillars, which will become Isabella Tiger Moths next spring, overwinter best underneath a pile of leaves. Firefly larvae and Bumblebee queens overwinter a couple of inches under the surface of the soil and need the leaves as insulation to survive.

The larvae and insects that overwinter may even become food for baby birds next spring! If you have the space, a brush shelter with some fallen branches and a pile of leaves is a great space for insect eating animals like salamanders, toads, box turtles, and chipmunks to overwinter.

So when it’s time to rake your lawn, be a hero to wildlife and the environment by keeping leaves away from curbside pickup – Leave the Leaves!

For more information about Leaving the Leaves, check out National Wildlife Foundation,, and Cooperative Extension.

Winners in annual Erie Canal photo contest announced

This photo of “Sunrise Kayak Paddle” in Macedon was taken by Dan Judd of Rochester and won first place in the “On the Water” category.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 September 2023 at 3:35 pm

The Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor has announced the winners in the 18th annual photo contest featuring scenes from the state’s canal system.

Usually there is a winning photo from Orleans County, but this year’s winners didn’t include a scene in Orleans.

There were 314 entries and judges selected first, second, and third place winners in four contest categories as well as 12 honorable mentions. The four categories include Canal Communities, Classic Canal, Along the Trail and On the Water.

“As we approach the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal in 2025, these images reveal to us what makes New York’s canals worth preserving, visiting, and celebrating,” said Bob Radliff, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. “We congratulate the winners and appreciate everyone who entered and shared the places and activities they love along New York’s extraordinary canals.”

Winning images can be viewed online (click here) and will be featured in the 2024 Erie Canalway calendar. The calendar will be available for free at libraries, visitor centers, and by request beginning in December.

New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “I send my heartfelt congratulations to the winners of this year’s annual photo contest, and my thanks to all of the exceptional photographers, amateur and professional alike, who participated. This year’s photos help us showcase the remarkable sights and recreational resources along the canal system. As celebrate the bicentennial of the Champlain Canal and prepare for the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal’s completion, they are a wonderful reminder of the Erie Canal’s legacy, impact, and presence in New York, both today and through generations of our history.”

“Fall in Fairport” was taken by Karen Millspaugh of Bergen and won first place in the “Classic Canal” category.

14 bronze statues complete in tribute to canal lock tenders

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 September 2023 at 11:44 am

400 attend celebration as Lockport finishes 10-year, $1.5 million project

Photos by Tom Rivers

LOCKPORT – It was a day of celebration in the City of Lockport on Saturday for the dedication of a 14-statue Lock Tenders Tribute Monument.

The top photo shows descendants of the people memorialized in the statues. The descendants are wearing the blue sashes.

The monument honors the canal lock tenders who worked 12-hour days and were responsible for opening and closing the locks for boats to safely pass through. They also worked on maintenance at the site.

One of the descendants sits next to one of the new statues. Six were unveiled on Saturday. The first three were unveiled in 2020 with five more added in 2021.

These 12 Lockport Lock Tenders plus a young girl were photographed in 1897 by Frank B. Clench. The tenders were part of a 20-person workforce at the locks in 1897.

A big crowd of about 400 gathered to celebrate the completion of the monument. Thirteen of the statues are installed on the stairs in the Lockport Locks where the tenders were photographed nearly 125 years ago.

The other statue of the photographer shows Frank B. Clench taking the iconic image.

This photo shows David Kinyon, chairman of the Lockport Locks Heritage District which pushed for the Lock Tender statuary.

“Lockport’s intent has been to explain the role of the workers who made the Erie Canal such a tremendous success in opening the interior of our country to development,” Kinyon said.

“Other communities have celebrated the Erie Canal by depicting those who dug the canal, the captains who operated canal boats and even the mules who pulled the packet and freight boats,” Kinyon said. “Lockport celebrates those who manually opened and closed the 5-ton wooden gates that raised and lowered boats through the 363-mile man-made waterway.”

Kinyon speaks during the ceremony on Saturday after the six new statues were unveiled. The six new statues were covered up until their names were announced later in the program. The descendants were given VIP seating for the event.

Kinyon said the $1.5 million project has been a decade in the making. The group hoped to have it done by 2025, the 200th anniversary of the 363-mile-long Erie Canal.

The project reached the finish line two years ahead of schedule.

He praised contributors to the project, including $575,000 from Niagara County (using funds through the relicensing of the Niagara Power Project), $550,000 from the state and Canal Corp., $150,000 from the Grigg Lewis Foundation, $100,000 from the John R. Oishei Foundation, and 35 businesses in Lockport that gave $100 or more. There were also numerous fundraisers with raffle tickets, and merchandise celebrating the lock tenders, from mugs, jewelry, magnets and shirts.

Susan Geissler of Youngstown, center, designed and crafted the statues which is now the largest outdoor bronze monument in Western New York.

She sits on the steps after the ceremony for a group photo with the statues.

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” she said about the project.

She said she has develop many “wonderful friendships and relationships” through the effort that honored the lock tenders.

“I’m very humbled and proud I could you something historic that will last forever,” she said.

Geissler was presented a citation and commendation from the State Legislature which was presented by State Sen. Rob Ortt and Assembly members Michael Norris and Angelo Morinello.

Norris praised Geissler for her painstaking artistry, “right down to a wrinkle on a forehead.”

Ortt noted his Senate district includes canal communities from Niagara, Orleans and western Monroe counties. Throughout the state all canal towns are proud of their heritage, but Ortt said no community is more synonymous with the canal than Lockport.

“She has done a remarkable job with this,” Ortt said about Geissler.

Brian Stratton, director of the State Canal Corp., said the tribute to the lock tenders highlights people who were critical to the canal’s operation at its peak. He praised the Lockport community for adding an attraction along the historic waterway in time for the bicentennial celebration in 2025.

Niagara County Legislator Richard Andres praised the volunteers who pushed for the lock tender tribute, who worked for a decade to line up financing, select an artist, research the people in the original photo, and get the community to back the ambitious effort.

“We certainly wouldn’t be here without vision and a lot of communities are lacking vision,” he said. “We are happy to support people with vision and tenacity and follow through, which is sometimes rare in government.”

Andres, the county legislator, said the Erie Canal deserves more prominence locally and nationally. The canal helped turn cities on the eastern seaboard into world powers, he said.

“The canal changed the world and you’re sitting right here in the midst of it,” said Andres, a history teacher at North Tonawanda. “We need to tell people what the canal did for the world.”

Craig Williams, president of the Canal Society of New York State, said the statues will help people better connect to the history of the canal.

“It’s not just a paragraph being read,” he said. “Getting people to pay attention is essential in history. Here people can get up close and touch these statues. Once you have that attention, you get a better appreciation of history.”

People enjoy sitting and interacting with the statues after the dedication ceremony on Saturday.

4 new tugboats coming to Erie Canal

Photo courtesy of Canal Corp: This tugboat is named for Harriet Tubman and joined the Erie Canal fleet last October. The tugboat is shown in Rochester, near Tubman’s home and final resting place in Auburn.

Posted 7 August 2023 at 8:00 am

Press Release, New York Power Authority and NYS Canal Corp.

The New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation have announced a strategic investment in the future of the New York State Canal system through the procurement of four new maintenance marine vessels.

The new tugboats will be operated by Canal Corporation personnel and positioned along the 524-mile Canal system to support the continued operation and maintenance of the statewide navigable waterway.

The first two tugboats are scheduled to be delivered in 2025, the bicentennial year of the Erie Canal, with two additional tugs planned for delivery in 2027.

“With more than 200 communities along its banks, an investment in New York State’s Canal system is an investment in the upstate economy,” said New York Power Authority and Canal Corporation Trustee and Syracuse Area Canal Recreationist Bea Gonzalez. “The Canal Corporation’s workforce that maintains this historic and vital water transportation route and recreational asset will leverage these new tugboats to ensure our children and grandchildren can enjoy all of the benefits the Canal system offers for many decades to come.”

New York Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “Once placed into service, these new maintenance vessels will give our dedicated personnel the opportunity to complete their tasks safely while operating aboard modern tugboats equipped with the latest marine technology. As stewards of the Canal system, we know how important the iconic waterway is to so many communities. These new work boats will help ensure the canals continue to support economic development, community building, and expanded recreational uses across our great state for years to come.”

Staffed by Canal Corporation tugboat captains and floating plant personnel, the new steel inland tugs, each 64.5-feet long, will support operations required to maintain navigation along the Canal system. Some of this work includes buoy placement and retrieval, movement of spoils in hopper scows, transporting of dredge pipe, and mobilizing hydraulic and mechanical dredge units. In addition, the new tugs will have ice breaking capabilities built into them such as thicker steel and tighter spaced framing in the bow.

New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “These four new tugboats are a significant investment into the Canal Corporation’s maintenance fleet that routinely ply the waters of upstate New York. For nearly two centuries the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals have been economic engines – supporting livelihoods and commerce while spurring the growth of villages, towns, and cities – and this investment ensures our workforce can efficiently maintain the canal’s navigable waters for the next generation of users.”

In 2017, the Canal Corporation contracted with AENY, located in Northport, NY to perform a vessel assessment of its floating equipment. Based on the assessment, a long-term plan was developed to replace the aging fleet. The construction of the four new vessels will be in accordance with U.S. Coast Guard Sub-Chapter M regulations and a U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection will be obtained.

When delivered, the new tugs will be placed into service alongside the Tug Syracuse, a 1934 tugboat built by the State of New York that has been the workhorse of the maintenance fleet since its launch. The new tugboats also will join the Canal Corporation’s Harriet Tubman, one of 10 smaller push tugboats that have been added to the fleet over the past five years.

The Board of Trustees for the New York Power Authority, which owns and operates the New York State Canal Corporation as a subsidiary, awarded the contract to Blount Builders Inc. of Warren, Rhode Island at its July 27 meeting.

In 2020, Blount Builders Inc. successfully delivered the Breaker II, a tugboat owned and operated by the New York Power Authority that supports its generation of electricity and champions ice breaking activity in the winter months along the Niagara River in Western New York.

Canalway Corridor seeks entries in annual photo contest

Photos by Tom Rivers: A blue heron takes off in flight along the Erie Canal in Eagle Harbor on Tuesday.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 August 2023 at 11:38 am

Press Release, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

WATERFORD – The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is calling for entries for its 18th annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Images should convey people enjoying activities on the waterway and Canalway Trail or show the unique character of New York’s canals and canal communities.

Winning photos will be featured in the 2024 Erie Canalway calendar. Entries must be postmarked by August 25, 2023.

Images will be judged in four contest categories: On the Water, Along the Trail, Canal Communities, and Classic Canal. Judges will select first, second, and third place winning images in each category, as well as 12 honorable mentions.

Submitted images must be horizontal format and taken within the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, which spans 524 miles across the full expanse of upstate New York. It encompasses the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Oswego, and Champlain canals and their historic alignments, as well as more than 230 canal communities.

Click here to download official contest rules and an entry form.

About the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

Nearly 200 years after its construction, the Erie Canal remains an iconic symbol of American ingenuity and determination. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor preserves New York’s extraordinary canal heritage, promotes the Corridor as a world-class tourism destination, and fosters vibrant communities connected by more than 500 miles of waterway. It achieves its mission in partnership with the National Park Service, New York State agencies, non-profit organizations, local residents, and more than 200 communities across the full expanse of upstate New York.

Paddleboarder making epic journey across Canal, Hudson and Niagara

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 August 2023 at 11:32 am

Dan Rubinstein says traveling by water is great way to slow down and reconnect with oneself, nature

EAGLE HARBOR – A lone standing figure, on an inflatable paddleboat, is slowly working his way across the Erie Canal.

Dan Rubinstein, 49, has spent the past two weeks paddling across the Erie Canal, going about 20 to 25 miles day. He made it to Albion on Monday. He camped overnight and today is headed west to Gasport.

The canal trek is part of bigger journey that started June 24 in Montreal. Rubinstein, an Ottawa resident, went to New York City on the Hudson River. From there he took a bus to Albany to get on the Erie Canal.

After he reaches Buffalo, he will cross the Niagara River and head to Toronto.

The paddleboard expedition is part of a book he is working about our relationship with water. Not only is water critical to life, but it has the power to help people connect to themselves and nature.

“When we’re on water things slow down,” he said this morning, paddling in Eagle Harbor.

He goes about 3 miles an hour and feels like a metronome, losing himself in the repetition.

Rubinstein is a writer whose project immerses him in “blue space.” He has been interviewing people along the way – some in planned discussions but most in serendipitous encounters.

Dan Rubinstein cuts a path through the water this morning. He has been traveling on the canal the past two weeks.

On Monday evening, he met Doug Miller and Susan Starkweather Miller of Albion. They are featured on his Instagram page that chronicles his journey.

“Everybody has been welcoming and generous, and sharing their stories,” he said. “Everybody has been amazing.”

Susan Starkweather Miller, the village historian, talked about Albion’s canal history and some of the notable events and people in the past, including the 1859 bridge collapse on the canal that killed 15 people. She directed Rubinstein to the Pullman church and its 41 Tiffany stained-glass windows.

“He is a really nice guy and personable,” Starkweather Miller said. “He is very interested in hearing stories.”

She volunteers at the Brockport Welcome Center and her brother is a retired tugboat operator on the canal.

She was impressed Rubinstein took on the physical task on rowing against the current on the canal, and made the effort to hear from local people along the way.

Dan Rubinstein paddles on the 14-foot-long board.

Rubenstein said the canal brings people together of all backgrounds. He has met wealthy people on large boats and others struggling to get by who are fishing for food.

The canal became noticeably more interesting with lots of joggers, walkers and cyclists as he got near Rochester and headed east.

His trip aims to explore sustainability, health, equity, social justice and community.

“To me, paddleboarding — on rivers, lakes and oceans — is a unique way to interact with both natural and human aquatic ecosystems; it can help connect us to this vital natural resource that we often ignore or neglect,” he states on his website about this project. “Standing upright on the water, moving with or against the flow, you see yourself and your surroundings in a new way.”

Rubinstein has a working title for the book, “Water Borne.” He is also the author of “Born to Walk: The Transformative Power of a Pedestrian Act.” The book was published in 2015.

For more on Rubinstein’s Water Borne project, click here to see his website. Check here to see his Instagram account.

Rubinstein passes through Eagle Harbor headed west towards Medina.

US-Canada join to study migration patterns of lake trout in Lake Ontario

Posted 25 June 2023 at 8:23 am

Photo by Jo Johnson/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: The orange-colored external acoustic tag, below the dorsal fin, identifies this fish as tagged in 2023. It is one of the first wild lake trout to be tagged in Lake Ontario.

Press Release, New York Sea Grant

OSWEGO – Lake trout research underway on Lake Ontario is part of the U.S.-Canada Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) field year on the lake.

Research collecting data on lake trout movement using acoustic telemetry tags is being led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in collaboration with the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Fisheries, with outreach assistance from New York Sea Grant (NYSG).

The tags communicate with acoustic receivers stationed on the lake bottom and collect data that will provide information about the migration patterns and habitats used by adult lake trout. This innovative technology is particularly useful for locating spawning habitats and will help to inform future restoration efforts for potentially degraded spawning sites.

More than 350 lake trout will be tagged in 2023. The tags’ battery life allows the fish to be tracked over the next ten years.

This research has already produced a “first.”

“This work in 2023 represents the first time a wild-produced lake trout has ever been tagged in Lake Ontario,” said USFWS Fish Biologist Dimitry Gorsky, Ph.D. “Lake trout are a native species that is important to the ecosystem and to the world-class sport fishery on Lake Ontario.”

The tagged fish are returned to the water to resume normal behavior to assure quality data.

New York Sea Grant is providing public outreach support to inform angling, fisheries and general public audiences about this research.

“Tagged fish that are a part of this study are marked with an external orange-colored tag,” said NYSG Great Lakes Fisheries Specialist Stacy Furgal. “If anglers catch a tagged lake trout, they can choose to return it to the water, or, if the fish is harvested, please contact Alex Gatch,, 607-753-9391 extension 7540, to return the internal tracking tag.”

This research is funded in part through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Erie Canal opens for 199th navigational season Friday

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Erie Canal is shown in Albion on Thursday evening, looking west from the Ingersoll Street bridge. The scene for the first time in more than a century doesn’t include a Main Street lift bridge. That span is under construction on the north side of the canal.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2023 at 9:40 pm

The Erie Canal will open to boating traffic on Friday for the 199th navigational season on the historic waterway.

There won’t be any tolls or fees for recreational use of the canal system for the seventh straight year. Those tolls were normally $25 to $100 for a season pass, depending on the size of the vessel.

The entire system is scheduled to open at 7 a.m. on May 19. The standard hours of operation are 7 to 5 p.m. daily until the season closes on Oct. 12. However, the lift bridges from Fairport through Orleans County to Lockport will be operational from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. through the peak navigation season from May 19 through Sept. 13.

There are seven lift bridges in Orleans County – Holley, Hulberton, Ingersoll Street in Albion, Main Street in Albion, Eagle Harbor, Knowlesville and Medina. There are 16 lift bridges on the canal and the seven in Orleans are more than any other county in the state.

However, the Main Street lift bridge is under construction in Albion and won’t be in service this year. The Brockport lift bridge also is getting a major rehabilitation.

The Canal Corporation said it continues to seek seasonal employees to staff the locks and lift bridges across the canal system. Those interested in applying for a position should visit the Canal Corporation’s website.

Traffic moves across the Ingersoll Street lift bridge. The bridge will be operational for the boating traffic from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. from May 19 through Sept. 13, and then 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Oct. 11.

Volunteers will help with cleanup projects at state parks on Saturday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 May 2023 at 12:14 pm

File photo: This photo taken in October 2016 shows the Drake House Ruins site at Golden Hill State Park in Barker. The sign describes the history of the site.

Volunteers will be out picking up trash and working on other projects at state parks on Saturday as part of “I Love My Park Day.”

Parks & Trails New York leads the state-wide effort at state park and public lands, and calls “the largest single-day volunteer event in NYS.”

Thousands of volunteers will be out to clean up parks and shorelines, plant trees and gardens, restore trails and wildlife habitat, remove invasive species, and work on various site improvement projects, Parks & Trails said in a news release.

Two nearby parks are part of the effort.

At Hamlin Beach State Park volunteers are welcome from 9 a.m. to noon for beack cleanup, cleaning shelters, clean out of the fire place in Area 2, and cleanup at camping areas, the Area 3 garden, and horseshoe pits.

At Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse in Barker, volunteers are welcome form 9 a.m. to noon for garbage pickup and trimming back bushes on hiking trails. They will also paint the historic coal shed and outhouse. Volunteers are will clear brush and mark heirloom roses and gardens at the Drake House site.

For more information on I Love My Park Day, click here.

Hunters harvest 10% more deer in Orleans County, statewide in 2022

Staff Reports Posted 3 May 2023 at 8:05 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: These deer are pictured on Nov. 20, 2014 when they were close to the road on the west side of Route 279 in Gaines, just south of Route 104.

The number of deer harvested in New York State increased 10 percent in 2022 to an estimated 231,961, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation reported.

The deer harvested in Orleans County followed the statewide trend with Orleans seeing a 9.7 percent increase, from 4,103 in 2021 to 4,503 in 2022, according to DEC data.

The harvest numbers among nearby counties for 2022 includes:

Total includes 4,503 in Orleans County  4,103

  • Orleans, 4,503
  • Genesee, 5,769
  • Erie, 6,182
  • Niagara, 3,430
  • Livingston, 7,378
  • Monroe, 5,157
  • Wyoming, 5,295

“DEC established several new deer hunting opportunities in 2021 and hunters took greater advantage of these opportunities during the 2022 season, including another safe, successful youth hunt,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Increased hunter success combined with recovering deer populations contributed to an overall increase in total deer harvest.”

The 2022-23 estimated deer take included 116,425 antlered bucks and 115,536 antlerless deer. Statewide, this represents a 5 percent increase in antlered buck harvest and a 15 percent increase in antlerless deer harvest from last season, the DEC reported.

In the press release, the DEC said Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) affected areas of the Hudson Valley and eastern shores of Lake Ontario in 2020 and 2021, resulting in reduced deer hunting success in these areas. Increases in buck harvest, which DEC tracks as an index of deer population abundance, during the 2022-23 seasons indicate that deer populations in affected areas are recovering.

The DEC also said hunters took greater advantage of several new deer hunting opportunities established in 2021. More than 2,000 antlerless deer were taken during the mid-September antlerless-only season, a 9 percent increase from 2021. This season was established to increase harvest of antlerless deer in wildlife management units where deer populations need to be reduced based on DEC’s deer population objectives.

Nearly 2,300 deer, a 38-percent increase from 2021, were harvested by youth hunters during the Youth Hunt Weekend, the DEC said. The increase was due in part to increased success of 12- and 13-year old hunters participating in the second year of a pilot program established by the State Legislature that allows hunters aged 12-13 to hunt deer with a firearm, the DEC said.

Lots of wildlife spotted in the countryside, a sure sign of spring

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 April 2023 at 8:11 am

Provided photos

A baby fox gives its mother a kiss after crossing Platten Road in Lyndonville on Wednesday evening. Jennifer Orr took the photo. She said the momma fox had four babies with her.

Garrett Knaak of Albion saw these bald eagles in a nest in Gaines recently. He doesn’t want to say the exact location so many people don’t go to the site and disturb the majestic birds.

Volunteers, civic groups urged to be part of Canal Clean Sweep in late April

Provided photo: A group of about 75 Holley students and Rotary Club members last May 6 volunteered to pick up trash along 9 miles of the Erie Canal towpath and many of the village streets and parks.

Staff Reports Posted 14 February 2023 at 3:14 pm

Registration has opened for Canal Clean Sweep 2023. Parks & Trails New York, in partnership with the NYS Canal Corporation, is organizing the 18th annual Canal Clean Sweep April 21-23 in celebration of Earth Day.

Community service clubs, co-workers at a business or organization, Scouts or even families are encouraged to register for a spot or section of the canal. Or they can check back later to register as a volunteer for a public event. Use the Event Finder Map on Parks & Trails website.

Most events will occur on Earth Day weekend, April 22-24. However, volunteers can pick another day if it works better.

Click here to fill out a form to register a Canal Clean Sweep event, indicating the clean-up location, how many volunteers are expected, and what t-shirt sizes are needed.

After registering for a Canal Clean Sweep event, Parks & Trails will provide more information and materials.

Last year, not-for-profit organizations, civic groups, businesses, and social clubs took part in more than 130 events along the Canal System and the Canalway Trail as 2,700 volunteers helped clean up nearly 1,500 bags of garbage.

Canal water levels will be a foot lower again this season

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Allens Bridge Road canal bridge in Albion is shown on Oct. 14, 2022.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2023 at 9:35 am

The Erie Canal water levels will again be about a foot lower for the 2023 navigation season, the Canal Corp. announced on Wednesday.

This is for the area between Lock E-30 in Macedon and Locks E-34/35 in Lockport.

This is the second year that levels have been reduced as the Canal Corporation continues to monitor more than 200 known seeps along the canal’s earthen embankments, the Canal Corp. said.

“Levels may vary slightly depending on the location,” the Canal Corp. stated. “The reduced water levels should not impact vessels transiting the canal within the navigation channel but may impact some docks and boat launches.”

In addition, water levels in the Glens Falls Feeder Canal will be approximately two feet lower than historic levels as seeps continue to be monitored there as well.

The Canal Corporation said it monitors and inspects these earthen dams on foot via daily and uses advanced technologies like drones and thermal imaging.

The 199th navigation season opens May 19 and closes Oct. 11.

Canal Corp. announces 199th boating season will be from May 19 to Oct. 11

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2023 at 11:23 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: A boater heads east in Albion after passing under the Ingersoll Street lift bridge in this photo from Oct. 2, 2019.

The navigational season for the Erie Canal will run from May 19 to Oct. 11, the New York State Canal Corporation announced today.

This will be the 199th consecutive season of navigation, and for the seventh year in a row the tolls for recreational boaters will be waived. Those tolls were normally $25 to $100 for a season pass, depending on the size of the vessel.

The season will open at 7 a.m. on May 19 and close to navigation at 5 p.m. on Oct. 11.

The canal is now a year away from the 200th navigation season of the waterway that goes 363 miles, linking the Hudson River in Albany to Lake Erie in Buffalo.

It cuts through about 25 miles of Orleans County and includes seven lift bridges. That is more than any other county in the canal system, which has 16 lift bridges total.

Grants available for programs, projects along the Erie Canal

Photo by Tom Rivers: Medina used a $10,500 “IMPACT!” grant from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor towards an ADA-accessible kayak launch that was installed in September 2021.

Posted 9 January 2023 at 10:31 am

Press Release, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

WATERFORD – The New York State Canal Corporation, through the Reimagine the Canals initiative, and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor are offering competitive grant funding to support tourism and recreation along the New York State Canal System including canal waterways and Canalway Trail.

The 2023 program will support tourism infrastructure and amenity improvements, and events. Applications are open now through Feb. 24.

Funding is open to counties, municipalities, units of local government, not-for-profit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes.

The grant program includes two funding categories: Event Support, with an award range of $500 to $3,000, and Tourism Infrastructure & Amenity Support, with an award range of $5,000 to $24,000. Applicants may apply for one or both categories.

“New York’s Canals and their surrounding communities have become destinations for local residents and tourists seeking unique recreational activities and provide opportunities to explore all of what our state has to offer, and it is essential to provide support to ensure continued growth and improvements,” said Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton. “Through this grant program, we are excited to renew our commitment to preserve and expand all that our shared waterways and trails offer and look forward to seeing visitors enjoying the flourishing Canal System as we continue to build on its role as a cornerstone of the New York experience.”

In 2022, 38 nonprofit organizations and municipalities received NYS Canal System Tourism Infrastructure and Event Grants totaling $259,300. The grants supported 11 tourism infrastructure and amenity improvements and 27 events.

Interested applicants are invited to attend an informational Q&A session on Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 10am. For details, Q&A registration, and online application, click here.

“Investing in recreational amenities and heritage-based events is essential to the Corridor’s health, both in terms of improving residents’ quality of life and by facilitating the economic impacts of tourism. We are pleased to collaborate with the NYS Canal Corporation on this initiative and align our revitalization strategies,” said Bob Radliff, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.