As 2018 comes to a close, we are looking back over a year filled with progress while actively planning for the next. In reading this newsletter, we hope you get a sense of the advancements we've made and an appreciation for the growing number of people joining us in our work.

We offer a special thank-you to our staff, volunteers, members - new and old - and to our growing list of supporters for helping further our vision of a healthy and sustainable Genesee River ecosystem.


Mike Haugh, President, Board of Directors
George Thomas, Executive Director
Letchworth Park - Mike Haugh Photography
Photo by Mike Haugh
6th Annual Genesee River Basin Summit
Genesee RiverWatch will host its 6th Annual Genesee River Basin Summit in the spring of 2019. The Summit topic is “A Report to the Community”. Regional experts will provide a comprehensive update on the many initiatives aimed at improving water quality in the Genesee and connecting people to the river. The day’s schedule will include presentations and discussions in these four areas:
  1. Restoration – Streambank stabilization, riparian buffers, plan development, and coalitions/alliances.
  2. Access – Improved recreational access to the river, including work by Genesee River Wilds, the City of Rochester and Genesee RiverWatch.
  3. Reporting – Measuring and reporting on the quality of the water in the Basin, including a Report Card and Citizen Monitoring.
  4. Outreach and Education – Updates on initiatives undertaken to inform citizens about the issues facing the Basin: K-12 classes, the Aquatic Education Network, and partnering with Delta Environmental and Corn Hill Navigation to use the Genesee as a teaching resource.
The date and complete agenda will be published soon.
Streambank Restoration
Mallards Dairy Streambank Restoration

In 2017 Genesee RiverWatch stabilized 900 linear feet of unbuffered agricultural field of Mallards Dairy, along the west bank of the Genesee River in the Town of Caneadea. This spring, with the help of over 60 volunteers over 1,000 trees were planted. This restoration work is reducing sediment and phosphorus loads in the river while adding 900 feet of new riparian zone and saving valuable agricultural land. The work was supported by a $101,000 grant from the Great Lakes Commission along with a $46,000 in-kind match provided by Mallards Dairy. The "before" picture shows the extent of erosion at this site. The "after" photo was taken on October 1st.
Mallards Dairy Streambank
Before Restoration
Mallards Dairy Streambank - After Restoration
Edelweiss Farms Streambank Restoration

The work to stabilize 1,980 feet of streambank near the Village of Fillmore, NY was delayed in 2018 by required archeological studies. These studies are now complete and construction will begin in early 2019. The work is supported by a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The total project value is $283,688, including $33,400 of in-kind work to be performed by the landowner.
Genesee River Basin Sediment and Nutrient Reduction Plan Now Available

A report titled Genesee River Basin Sediment and Nutrient Reduction Plan is now available that describes a streambank restoration plan for the Genesee River Basin. The report in PDF format can be downloaded here . The plan includes ideas gathered at our 2016 Summit and March 2018 Workshop and represents input from Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Army Corps of Engineers, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and farming communities. This work was supported by a New York Sea Grant ($24,805).
Recreation on the Genesee River
Lower River Canoe/Kayak Access

Genesee RiverWatch is working with the City of Rochester to install a new recreational access point on the lower Genesee River near Petten Street. This access point will enable canoe and kayak access to a beautiful 5 mile stretch of the river from Lower Falls to the Rochester Harbor. The location will allow paddlers to avoid conflicts with power boats and stay out of hazardous wakes and lake swells further downstream. Funding for the project is coming from the City and a generous donation from Genesee Brewery. The access point is expected to be ready for use in the spring of 2019. 
Recreational Map of the Genesee River

The development of a Recreational Map of the Genesee River is now being supported by a $25K contribution from the New York Sea Grant program. The recreational map will be a collaboration of Genesee RiverWatch, Genesee Valley Conservancy and Genesee River Wilds. The map will include location and descriptions of access points for cartop boating, fishing, hiking and biking and descriptions of local services and attractions. The goal of this recreational map is to connect more people to the river by providing opportunities for enjoyment and adventure.

Paddling on the River

Genesee RiverWatch partnered with the City of Rochester last summer to host two paddling trips on the Lower River from Seth Green Island to the harbor. Genesee RiverWatch and several other partners are discussing the possibilities for a greatly-expanded program in 2019 that may include the Middle and Upper river as well as our favorite Lower River haunts.
3rd Annual Genesee River Bash
The 3rd Annual Genesee River Bash was held on Saturday evening, September 29th at the Port of Rochester Terminal Building. With live music from Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People, a Wild Wings Raptor demonstration, silent auction, good food, exhibitors and the annual Elizabeth Thorndike awards presentation, this was a family friendly evening that celebrated the Genesee River and was fun for all. Thanks to all who came and supported Genesee RiverWatch and special thanks to Chris Goodknews for the great photography!
Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Awards 2018
Congratulations to the annual Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Excellence Award winners. The Awards recognize individuals, organizations and projects that have made significant contributions to the Genesee RiverWatch Mission. The awards were presented at the Genesee River Bash on Saturday, September 29, 2018.
Dr. Richard A. Young  is a Distinguished Service Professor of Geological Sciences at SUNY Geneseo. Dr. Young supports Genesee RiverWatch’s mission through his lifetime of work contributing to understanding the glacial history, geomorphology, erosion, sediment transport and groundwater patterns of the Genesee River valley.  Dr. Young freely provides his geologic expertise to assist local scientific and environmental organizations and individuals and is Vice President of Science for the Rochester Committee for Scientific Information (RCSI).
Juliana Lanz is our youngest award winner. Julia is a 5th grader (age 10) who loves living things and our environment and takes action to support the causes she believes in. After attending the Genesee River Bash last year, Juliana was so intrigued by the story of the lake sturgeon restoration program presented by Dr. Jeff Wyatt that she prepared a school paper on her own - that wasn’t a homework assignment - then presented it to her 4th grade class. Juliana also decided she wanted to contribute to Genesee RiverWatch. After some consideration, she set up a table to sell lemonade on behalf of Genesee RiverWatch. The lemonade stand was very successful as she wound up earning $60, which she donated to Genesee RiverWatch!
Sara Scott is the Program Development Specialist for Rochester’s Department of Recreation and Youth Services. Under Sara’s guidance, the City hosts monthly guided paddle events on the Genesee River from Seth Green Island to Rochester’s Harbor. Most of the individuals attending these paddle events do not have the equipment necessary to explore the river on their own. Many also lack the paddling skills to feel confident undertaking such a trip and, thus, would never do so. Sara manages all the logistics and provides guides skilled in paddling and knowledgeable of river lore. By organizing these events, Sara has developed a mechanism to “connect people to the river".
Chris Widmaier is an experienced science educator in the Rochester City School District who has taught at Wilson Magnet High School for four years and World of Inquiry School for nine years. Chris’s work as an educator focuses on deeper learning, teacher leadership and student empowerment in and out of the classroom. Chris brings those skills and leadership to his work with Genesee RiverWatch’s Aquatic Educator Network where he is encouraging and helping educators and students to personally experience the beauty of the Genesee River and become committed to its future. Chris is currently studying Management at RIT in the Saunders College of Business with the goal of creating a place for everyone to develop deeper connections with their world and those around them.
In other news...
Citizen Monitoring of the River

Thanks to a dedicated group of citizen monitors, over 250 water quality samples have been collected in the Genesee River Basin throughout the year. We are currently analyzing this data and will make the results available in 2019.

Educational Outreach

With support from the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute, Genesee Riverwatch piloted several eduational programs in 2018 with an objective to enhance public knowledge of the Genesee River and increase commitment to its future health and use through formal and informal environmental education and promotion of local research. This work included the development of the Aquatic Educators Network and student workshops aimed at elementary and secondary education. We have received some funds to continue these programs in 2019.
Genesee RiverWatch Membership
Did you know it's easy to join Genesee RiverWatch as a member? There are a variety of options, from "Basic" membership at $25 to a "Genesee River Basin" supporter level at $2000. At whatever level, your support helps to make the work of Genesee RiverWatch possible! At the $50 "Contributing" level or more, first time members receive a Genesee RiverWatch hat.

Just click on the button below to be taken to the sign-up page.
Thank you to our Supporters!
Genesee River Basin - $2,000 or more level
  • CEI Shirley Sherman Fund
  • City of Rochester
  • Genesee Brewery
  • Danielle Ponder

Main Stem - $1,000 or more level
  • American Dairy Association
  • Black Murphy Fund
  • Broccolo Tree & Lawn
  • William Hallahan
  • Hose 22
  • Jetty at the Port
  • Nixon Peabody
  • Presentation Source
  • RG&E
  • Stantec
  • U of R Environmental Health Sciences Center
Letchworth - $500 or more level
  • Golisano Institute for Sustainability
  • Mike & Bonnie Haugh
  • Knauf & Shaw
  • Labella Associates
  • Peter Lent
  • Joseph Makarewicz
  • Pathfinder Engineers & Architects
  • Georgiana Prince
  • RIT Environmental Science Program
  • Terry Schmitz
  • Brad VanAuken
  • Wegmans

Tributary - $250 or more level
  • Century Liquor
  • Chandrakala, Chetna & Abdhas
  • Lee & Marci Loomis
  • Matrix Environmental Technologies
  • Paradigm
  • Ruth I. Morton Fund
  • Anne & Jack Stocum
  • SWBR Architects
  • TelTru/GS Plastic
  • Elizabeth Thorndike
  • Underberg & Kessler