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DEC has photo contest seeking images of women hunting

Posted 27 November 2018 at 1:14 pm

Press Release, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Photo courtesy of DEC: Mandy Baily and her lab Boone are out hunting.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the beginning of a statewide photo contest, “WomenHuntFishNY,” to celebrate women hunters in New York State.

“Women are the fastest growing segment of adult hunters and DEC is excited to provide a forum to share their experiences with others interested in hunting and outdoor recreation in New York State,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Hunting is a proud tradition in New York and we hope this new contest will inspire the next generation of hunters and conservationists to take up the sport and grow the hunting economy in the state.”

Women who hunt in New York State are encouraged to share their photos via the DEC social media Dropbox at socialmedia@dec.ny.gov. DEC welcomes photos of all aspects of safe and ethical hunting, including: preparing to go afield, the act of hunting, after the hunt, and with family members.

The deadline for contest entries is Dec. 31. However, the DEC encourages hunters to share and send photos to the agency any time of year.

Winning entries will be featured in next year’s New York State Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide, and may appear in a future issue of the Conservationist magazine, social media posts, the DEC website, and other outreach.

According to the most recent National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, women make up more than 25 percent of all anglers, a number that has increased over the last several decades. While the proportion of hunters who are women is smaller relative to fishing, the percentage of female hunters has also steadily risen in recent years.

According to DEC records, nearly 50,000 women are licensed to hunt in New York State.

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Tree stumps will be removed along canal this winter

Posted 18 November 2018 at 6:19 pm

Press Release, NYS Canal Corp.

Photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from last week shows a line of tree stumps along the Erie Canal towpath just week of the Brown Street bridge. A year ago, the Canal Corp. cut down trees along the towpath.

ALBANY – The New York State Canal Corporation has announced that work has begun on the latest phase of an embankment maintenance program for the Erie Canal in Monroe and Orleans counties that will enhance the canal’s safety and security.

Crews have begun surveys to mark canal property lines and wetland areas. That will be followed by clearing and brush mowing of the embankment as well as stump removal, packing and grading. That work is scheduled to begin Nov. 26. In some areas, drains will be added and the outboard slope strengthened with stone and filter blankets to capture water seepage. The work is expected to be completed next spring.

“The safety of those who live and work near the Erie Canal is our top priority,” said Brian U. Stratton, Canal Corporation director. “This program can provide property owners with the peace of mind that they deserve.”

The work is being done along the canal from Medina in Orleans County, east to Brockport in Monroe County. It follows the removal last year of vegetation in that area along the embankment, which holds in the water over elevated stretches of the Erie Canal.

Vegetation was removed in accordance with guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Administration, Army Corps of Engineers and Association of State Dam Safety Engineers. The consensus among these experts is that trees have no place on embankments, as their root systems can cause seepage and potentially lead to erosion and potential embankment failure that can cause catastrophic damage and loss of life.

Following up on sessions that have been held in Albion and Brockport, the Canal Corporation will hold public meetings early next year to gather input from the public on the final phase of the embankment maintenance program, the best ways to maintain a visual aesthetic along the embankment and to provide property owners with vegetative screening for privacy. The Canal Corporation will soon hire a consultant to provide options for how that can be accomplished without compromising the embankment’s structural integrity.

The embankment surveys are being done by Ravi Engineering and Land Surveying of Rochester. The stump removal, packing and grading will be done by Hohl Industrial of Tonawanda and Tioga Construction of Herkimer.

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National preservation organization shares concern about fate of canal tugboat

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 October 2018 at 8:30 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: The Urger was in Holley on Oct. 6, 2015 for a visit by fourth-graders.

A national preservation organization is shining the spotlight on a 117-year-old tugboat that could be removed from the canal waters and become a dry-dock exhibit at a Thruway rest area in Montgomery County.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation highlighted the Urger in its Fall issue, and deemed the boat “threatened.”

“More than 100,000 schoolchildren have boarded the Urger, and it is considered the unofficial ambassador of the canal system,” National Trust stats in its magazine, Preservation.

The Erie Canal was opened in 1825, nearly 200 years ago. A century ago marked the completion of the Barge Canal, when the Erie was widened.

The Urger visits canal communities and serves as a teaching tug. It is especially popular with fourth-graders who are learning New York State history, and how the Erie Canal turned New York into the Empire State.

“The Preservation League of New York State has expressed concern for the Urger’s fate because it believes turning the tug into a dry-land exhibit will likely require removing parts of its historic fabric and boring holes into its hull,” National Trust said. “The vessel will be dry-socked this winter, and PLNYS hopes the New York Power Authority and NYC Canal Corporation will reconsider their plan to remove it permanently from its historic context.”

Fourth-graders from School No. 2 in Rochester visit the Urger in October 2015. The boat is an ambassador for the state’s canal system.

​The  New York State Canal System has been designated a National Historic Landmark due to its span, scope, and historic integrity, the Preservation League said.

“The historic vessels related to the NYS Canal System are a significant component of the system’s integrity,” the League said. “The National Historic Landmark designation recognizes the importance of the canal fleet and canal vessels to the New York State Canal System.”

Launched in 1901, the Urger entered canal service in 1921. ​For more than sixty years she moved barges, dredges, and derrick boats on the Erie and Champlain canals. Retired from heavy work around 1984, she returned to active service in 1991 as an ambassador for New York’s Canal System, calling at ports from New York City to the Canadian border and west to Lake Erie. She was the traveling centerpiece for countless canal festivals and events across the state and hosted over 100,000 students on school field trips during a 25-year period. Listed on the National Register since 2001, she is one of the oldest operable tugboats in the country.

The Preservation League has an online petition for people to send to support keeping the Urger as an active canal vessel. For more information, click here.

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The Oak draws fishermen from several states in pursuit of the King

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 October 2018 at 11:03 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – These fishermen try to catch salmon and trout in the Oak Orchard River this afternoon.

Many of the anglers were participating in the 16th fly fishing tournament at St. Mary’s Archer’s Club. There were 53 participants in the three-day tournament with prizes awarded for the biggest Chinook salmon, brown trout, steelhead and Atlantic salmon. A 25-pound, 5-ounce Chinook salmon led the derby.

The Archer’s Club said there were participants from several states, including New York, Maine, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Ohio and Arizona.

The anglers said the fishing was good, but it hasn’t hit its peak yet because the water is a little too warm. When the temps drop, they said more fish will be in the Oak Orchard River.

Shane Smith helps his son Beckett, 8, try to reel in a Chinook salmon, also known as a King salmon. The fish managed to slip the hook and get away. Smith, who is from near Harrisburg, Pa., has been coming to the Oak Orchard annually for about 30 years. His other son Ben, 13, is at left with the net. Ben was on the leaderboard for five different fish in the three-day tournament.

Even if the fish are elusive, anglers say they enjoy being in the outdoors, especially when a blue heron passes by.

The Oak Orchard River is a popular spot during the fall and also in the early winter.

One fly rod is set down for a break in the action today.

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Some leaves are changing, but most trees are still green

Photos by Tom Rivers: The leaves on the trees at Letchworth State Park are just starting to change colors or reaching midpoint in some areas. The leaves are farther along in northern New York.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 October 2018 at 6:58 pm

Beautiful colors for fall foliage are starting to appear around most of the state, according to I LOVE NY. In Orleans County and Western New York, the leaves are just starting to change, according to I LOVE NY.

Near-peak foliage is expected this weekend in some areas of the Adirondacks, while near-peak colors will emerge in the Thousand Islands-Seaway region and parts of the Catskills, according to observers for I LOVE NY.

In Orleans County, spotters in Albion are expecting 25 percent color change with average shades of gold and red starting to pop, I LOVE NY said in its fall foliage report.

Letchworth State Park in Wyoming County, shown this afternoon, will be a hotspot as the colors change on the trees.

Courtesy of I LOVE NY: This is the NY fall foliage map for week of Oct. 3-9.

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Orleans canal communities will work on waterfront revitalization plan

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Holley Canal Park is pictured in June. The site includes a gazebo, public bathrooms with showers, boat tie-ups and camp sites.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 October 2018 at 10:40 am

Several canal communities in Orleans County will soon get to work on a waterfront revitalization plan.

The Orleans County Legislature has approved an agreement with NYS Department of State to create the Erie Canal Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

The plan will provide a clear direction for suitable future development, reflect a community consensus, and establish a long-term partnership among local governments and the state.

In a resolution last week, the Legislature states, “the Erie Canal was critical to early community settlement and commerce in Orleans County and remains an essential asset for the purposes of economic development, recreation, tourism and cultural heritage.”

The state is providing a $62,000 grant for the plan, while the county contributes $10,000 in cash, and the participating towns and villages pay $10,500. The county Department of Planning and Development will also provide $167 of in-kind services.

The Village of Medina also is working on a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan and received a $37,500 state grant for the effort. Medina has already formed a committee and hired a consultant, Bergmann Associates.

Medina will have a meeting on Oct. 17 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Medina High School, 2 Mustang Drive, welcoming the public to discuss how to best utilize the waterfront in the community, including the canal, Oak Orchard River and Glenwood Lake.

The Orleans plan will focus on the villages of Albion and Holley, and towns of Murray, Albion, Gaines, Ridgeway and Shelby.

The county expects to hire a consultant and start work on the plan in early 2019. Ken DeRoller, a county legislator, said the two planning efforts will work together.

There may be less than obvious ways to better capitalize on the canal, such as allowing more siphons for farmers to irrigate crops, DeRoller said.

“We are looking forward to enhancing the use of this asset in our county,” he said.

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Reimagined Erie Canal includes beer armada and pocket neighborhoods

Photos by Tom Rivers: Madison County Assistant Planning Director Jamie Kowalczk accepts the $1.5 million first place prize in the Reimagine the Canals competition. Madison County proposed the development of “Pocket Neighborhoods” which would be attractive to millennials, families and seniors who want to live in places that are walkable to shopping, restaurants and other amenities. Kowalczk is joined on stage by Gil C. Quiniones (left), who is president and CEO of the New York Power Authority. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul also celebrated the winning proposals today.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 October 2018 at 10:25 pm

State announces winners of Reimagine the Canals contest

ROCHESTER – A reimagined Erie Canal includes an armada of boats passing along the canal carrying people tasting craft beers. The future also will see some of the open spaces and former industrial areas along the canal turned into “pocket neighborhoods,” which are within walking distance to shopping and amenities.

The State Canal Corp. and New York Power Authority today announced the winners of a Reimagine the Canals competition. The two winners were picked from seven finalists and 145 initial entries.

The $2.5 million competition shows the state isn’t content to have the canal be a historical piece, said Gil C. Quiniones, New York Power Authority president and CEO.

“The message from the governor is clear: the canals still matter,” Quiniones said at today’s announcement.

The second-place winners of the Reimagine the Canals competition walk across the stage at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester to accept their award. The Erie Armada team, led by Parks & Trails New York and the event-planning firm Area4 based in New York City will receive $500,000 to implement their proposal. Rory McEvoy, left, is co-founder of Area4 and James Meerdink is project director for Parks & Trails.

The Imagine the Canals competition surpassed its goal of drawing out ideas to better capitalize on the canal system, which Quiniones said is an important asset for economic development, tourism and to support agriculture.

The canal system now falls under the domain of the Power Authority. Quiniones embraced the reimagine competition. NYPA and the Canal Corp. are working on the long-term strategy for the canal, and Quiniones said many of the proposals in the competition may be included in the long-term plan.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is greet by Brian Stratton, director of the State Canal Corp.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said she is optimistic the state will continue to make funding available to help finance some of the initiatives in the Reimagine competition.

The canal, which opened in 1825, was critical in the development of the state and nation. Hochul said the canal did more than move goods.

“It is the flow of ideas,” she said.

Many of the human rights movements, including abolition and women’s suffrage, gained momentum because the canal allowed leaders and residents to promote those ideas.

“It’s the Equal Rights Inspiration Corridor,” she said.

The canal competition put “actionable” ideas for review. The following were the winners:

• Pocket Neighborhoods: The first place entry seeks to build pocket neighborhoods along the Erie Canal and Erie Canalway Trail. Homes would surround a common greenspace and have direct access to the Canal to respond to the growing preference of millennials, families, and seniors to live in a place that is walkable to shopping, restaurants and other amenities.

A pilot project would be built in the Village of Canastota, Madison County, about 25 miles east of Syracuse. The expectation is this project—which would involve a public-private partnership—could be replicated in other communities.

“The pocket neighborhoods project will remind people that the canals are not only a great place to visit but a great place to live,” Quiniones said.

The team, which will receive $1.5 million to further develop its plan, includes the Madison County Planning Department, STREAM Collaborative – an Ithaca architecture and design firm, and Camoin Associates – an economic development consultancy based in Saratoga Springs. The judges cited the project as a model for how land use could be shifted away from the canals’ industrial past to residential and mixed uses.

• Erie Armada: The second winner seeks to create Erie Armada, a multi-day festival and boat race centered on breweries creating human-powered boats that could be made from items common to the industry, such as barrels and beer cans. The race would include parties at the start and end of each 15-mile race that would feature music, local food offerings and craft beverages, including beers created specifically for the armada. The first armada is planned to go between Baldwinsville and Phoenix in Central New York, but other locations are being considered for the future.

Brian Stratton, Canal Corp. director, said the canal is an important asset for the state for tourism, recreation, economic development and agriculture.

The jury commented that the proposal would support new recreation and tourism in the canal corridor and bring a younger audience to the region, while also supporting the local heritage of the canal system. New York was once a leading grower of hops, which were shipped across the nation and abroad via the Erie Canal. The Erie Armada team, led by Parks & Trails New York, event-planning firm Area4 based in New York City and advisor Joe Gustainis of Caledonia, will receive $500,000 to implement their proposal.

New York is home to 400 breweries, up from 95 just six years ago, as well as for the growing number of wineries, distilleries and cideries in the state.

“The canals have long been a source of inspiration and wonder,” said Brian U. Stratton, New York State Canal Corporation director. “The projects that were announced today are poised to make a real difference in how people use and interact with our canals.”

The state announced the Reimagine competition last year. It sought unique ideas to continue to transform the New York State Canal System into an engine of economic activity and a magnet for tourism and recreation.

“With the winners of the Reimagine the Canals competition now selected, we can continue to tap into one of New York’s most underutilized assets and help this statewide resource reach its full potential,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “There is no doubt these winning ideas will continue to inspire new, creative ideas that will invigorate the canals and draw visitors to one of our most iconic assets for years to come.”

In all, the competition drew 145 entries from nine states and seven nations, with an international panel of judges—including some of the world’s leading canal experts—narrowing the field to seven finalists.

The competition was held as New York celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Barge Canal—now known as the New York State Canal System—which includes the Erie, Cayuga-Seneca, Champlain and Oswego canals. The state also continues to mark the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, construction on which began 201 years ago. Next year, will mark the 200th anniversary of the first boat trip taken on the Erie Canal, from Rome to Utica.

John Kast, an Albion fruit and vegetable farmer, was featured in a video promoting using the canal to help irrigate farms. That project was a finalist but wasn’t picked for financing.

Other finalists included:

• Go the Distance: this initiative will look to develop overnight accommodations for recreational users of the canal system. The team includes the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor from Waterford, NY; Gray Slate Partners from Troy, NY; 2K Design from Clifton Park, NY and Dorgan Architecture & Planning from Storrs, Conn.

• Canal Winterlocks: seeks to develop winter-time uses for the Erie Canal, potentially including skating, hockey, winter festivals and cross-country skiing. The team includes Clare Lyster Urbanism and Architecture and John Ronan Architects, both from Chicago and Urban Engineers from Philadelphia.

• Intra-Works: installations of art and sculpture to forge a cultural identity that links up the Canal System. The team includes the architecture and planning firms Collective Studio from New York City and WRT and Interface, both from Philadelphia.

• Western New York Irrigation: this plan will build off the canal’s water infrastructure to expand its irrigation capabilities. The team includes SUNY ESF Professor Stephen Shaw, C&S Companies of Syracuse and the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

• Upstate Archipelago: this team is developing designs for resilient water landscapes that also provide public recreation space and wildlife habitat. The team includes Cornell Design, Ithaca; Cornell Cooperative Extension and H+N+S, a landscape architecture firm based in the Netherlands.

For more information about the competition and to watch videos about each project, visit www.canals.ny.gov/reimaginethecanals.


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Erie Canal photo contest winners named

Posted 2 October 2018 at 10:30 am

Kyle Preston’s photo of “Winter’s Sunset” in Brockport won first place in the Along the Trail category in the annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Winning images will be featured in 2019 calendar. The winning shots didn’t include any sites in Orleans County.

Press Release, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

WATERFORD – Twelve images that capture the beauty and character of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor have been selected as winners of the 13th Annual Erie Canalway Photo Contest. Winning images will be featured in the 2019 Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor calendar, which will be available for free at libraries and visitor centers beginning in December.

Judges selected first, second and third place photographs in four contest categories from nearly 300 entries. In addition, twelve photographs received an honorable mention. Winning photos may be viewed at www.eriecanalway.org/gallery.

Winning images span the entire length of the canal system from Hudson Falls on the Champlain Canal to Tonawanda at the western gateway to the Erie Canal.

“These outstanding images offer a snapshot of what makes this 500-mile ribbon of waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes a national treasure,” said Bob Radliff, Erie Canalway Executive Director. “We hope they inspire people to protect and celebrate our unparalleled canal heritage.”

The public is invited to pick up a free calendar at libraries and visitor centers beginning in December. Locations will be posted in November at: https://eriecanalway.org/get-involved/photo-contest. Funding support for the calendar comes from the New York State Canal Corporation and the National Park Service.

2019 Erie Canalway Photo Contest Winners

Classic Canal

1st Place, Mirror: Past and Present (Clay) by Suzanne Grosz, Webster, NY

2nd Place, Lyndon Road Footpath (Fairport) by Tracy Lyn Lause, Fairport, NY

3rd Place, Best Friends (Newark) by Mary E. Smith, Newark, NY

Canal Communities

1st Place, Fairport at Dawn (Fairport) by Tom Kredo, Rochester, NY

2nd Place, Sunset View of Tonawanda (Tonawanda) by Pierre Williot, Buffalo, NY

3rd Place, Morning Light (Lockport) by Robert Klick, Amherst, NY

Along the Trail

1st Place, Winter’s Sunset (Brockport) by Kyle Preston, Brockport, NY

2nd Place, Paddling the Waterford Locks (Waterford) by Stefanie Obkirchner, Amsterdam, NY

3rd Place, Richmond Aqueduct (Montezuma) by James Zeger, Sodus, NY

On the Water

1st Place, Westward Bound (Lockport) by Lee Williams, Lockport, NY

2nd Place, Sunset at the Marina (Ilion) by Cliff Oram, Ilion, NY

3rd Place, Misty Sunrise (Northumberland) by Susan Meyer, Schuylerville, NY

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‘Reimagine the Canals’ winners to be announced on Oct. 3

Photo by Tom Rivers: A boat passes along the Erie Canal in Albion on Tuesday.

Staff Reports Posted 20 September 2018 at 9:34 am

ROCHESTER – The caretakers of the Erie Canal will announce the winners of a $2.5 million global competition to transform the canal system for a new generation.

The State Canal Corporation and New York Power Authority, which oversees the canal system, on Oct. 3 will announce the winners of the “Reimagine the Canals” competition. The unveiling will be at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester.

There were 145 entries in the competition, which was narrowed to seven finalists in April. The competition sought new approaches for how to both use the canals as an engine for economic development and also to become a hub for tourism and recreation.

Each of the seven finalists received up to $50,000 to further develop their entries for the next stage.

The winners will receive between $250,000 and $1.5 million to plan and implement their projects.

The programs and initiatives are intended to promote the Canal System and its trails as a tourist destination and recreational asset for New York residents and visitors; sustainable economic development along the Canal System; the Canal System’s heritage; and the long-term financial sustainability of the Canal Corporation.

Additionally, the competition sought entries on two separate tracks, one for infrastructure; the other for programs that have the potential to increase recreation use and tourism.

The finalists are:

• Go the Distance: this initiative will look to develop overnight accommodations for recreational users of the canal system. The team includes the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor from Waterford, NY; Gray Slate Partners from Troy, NY; 2K Design from Clifton Park, NY and Dorgan Architecture & Planning from Storrs, Conn.

• Canal Winterlocks: seeks to develop winter-time uses for the Erie Canal, potentially including skating, hockey, winter festivals and cross-country skiing. The team includes Clare Lyster Urbanism and Architecture and John Ronan Architects, both from Chicago and Urban Engineers from Philadelphia.

• Great Erie Canal Race: a multi-day race for many types of watercraft, with a component for bikers and hikers. The team, led by Parks and Trails New York, includes Joe Gustainis from Caledonia, NY and Karthik Namasivayam from Pittsford, NY, as advisors.

• Intra-Works: installations of art and sculpture to forge a cultural identity that links up the Canal System. The team includes the architecture and planning firms Collective Studio from New York City and WRT and Interface, both from Philadelphia.

• Pocket Neighborhoods: a model for canal-side neighborhoods that have the Erie Canal as the core of their identity. The team includes the Madison County Planning Department and Stream Collaborative, an architecture firm in Ithaca.

• Western New York Irrigation: this plan will build off the canal’s water infrastructure to expand its irrigation capabilities. The team includes SUNY ESF Professor Stephen Shaw, C&S Companies of Syracuse and the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

• Upstate Archipelago: this team is developing designs for resilient water landscapes that also provide public recreation space and wildlife habitat. The team includes Cornell Design, Ithaca; Cornell Cooperative Extension and H+N+S, a landscape architecture firm based in the Netherlands.

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Volunteers sought for shoreline cleanup on Saturday

Staff Reports Posted 13 September 2018 at 3:51 pm

The Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District is seeking volunteers its annual shoreline cleanup this Saturday.

Volunteers will collect and record the litter they pick up at nearby waterways. The volunteers are expected to head to the Widewaters of the Erie Canal near Knowlesville, the boat launch area at Lake Alice and the Dam area on the east side of Lake Alice.

Volunteers will convene at the south pavilion of Bullard Park in Albion at 9 a.m.

Contact the Orleans County Soil and Water Conservation District at 585-589-5959 ext. 5 if you are interested in helping or if you have any questions.

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