Welcome to Genesee RiverWatch's 2017 Summer newsletter.   At Genesee RiverWatch, the staff and volunteers are working hard to achieve our vision of a healthy and sustainable Genesee River ecosystem that is an environmental, recreational and economic asset for all generations. We are making substantial progress with the help of our members, sponsors and contributors. We hope you will take some time to read this newsletter, visit our website, attend an event or contribute in any way that you can.
Mike Haugh, President, Board of Directors
George Thomas, Executive Director
4th Annual Genesee River Basin Summit
Genesee RiverWatch held its 4th Annual Genesee River Basin Summit on June 15, 2017.  The topic was "River Access and Recreational Opportunities." The purpose of this year's Summit was to review the current state of river access and recreational use, understand the benefits associated with increasing these opportunities and plan for how we can move forward to benefit our citizens and the local economy. Nearly 90 people attended with presentations from government entities, non-profits and small businesses. A report of the Summit including proposed future actions will be published soon on the Genesee RiverWatch website.

Genesee RiverWatch Executive Director George Thomas updates the Summit attendees on progress since the 2016 Summit.
Citizen Water Quality Monitoring

Genesee RiverWatch is growing our Citizen Water Quality Monitoring program. Launched in 2016, the goal of this effort is to establish simple water quality test methods that citizens can use to measure phosphorus and sediment concentrations in the Genesee River and its tributaries. While the Basin has benefited from extensive monitoring and modeling studies, there is usually a several year gap between studies that warrants additional testing to demonstrate if there have been improvements or deterioration in water quality. Collecting and publishing more data throughout the watershed will provide a better picture of the overall quality of the water in the Genesee River. Last year, a Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Protocol was developed and tested in cooperation with SUNY Alfred and the Oatka Creek Watershed Committee; and equipment was purchased with the support of the Norcross Foundation.
We now have four volunteers who have committed to taking 2 to 4 samples per month using the equipment we supplied them. They will take samples in the watersheds listed below:

George Squires
Black Creek
Peter Lent
Oatka Creek
Mary Merner
Upper Genesee River Basin, Canaseraga Creek, Conesus Creek
Haily Richmond-Boudewyns
Genesee River in Rochester, Honeoye Creek
There are several benefits associated with this program. Data that is collected routinely will increase our ability to spot trends. Data collected at a multitude of sites throughout the watershed could identify areas where previously unknown problems exist. Citizens directly involved with sampling and data collection will become more engaged in the efforts to improve the river.

Citizen Water Quality Monitoring equipment package.
Streambank Stabilization and Restoration Efforts:

Erosion of streambanks in the Genesee Basin is a major ecological and economic problem for our region. In an average year, over 420,000 tons of soil flows down the river to Rochester, causing l oss of valuable farmland, costly dredging at Mt. Morris Dam and Rochester Harbor, sediment levels that reduce fish populations and make our rivers unappealing for recreation and tourism, and contribute to high nutrient levels that lead to harmful algal blooms and beach closings. Streambank restoration projects are currently being investigated and funded on an ad-hoc basis in the Genesee River Basin. Genesee RiverWatch is working on two streambank stabilization and restoration projects in 2017. The results of these projects will contribute to our ultimate goal of a basin wide streambank stabilization plan.
Mallards Dairy Streambank Restoration Project

In August 2016 Genesee RiverWatch received a $101,000 grant from the Great Lakes Commission along with a commitment for a $46,000 match provided by Mallards Dairy to stabilize 900 linear feet of un-buffered agricultural field along the west bank of the Genesee River in the Town of Caneadea, New York. The stabilization efforts will reduce sediment and phosphorus loads to the river while protecting valuable farmland and adding 900 feet of new riparian zone using bioengineering techniques and habitat enhancement. Streambank stabilization and the establishment of a vegetated buffer on the reduced bank slope and on the top of bank will slow the rate of erosion and the subsequent loss of agricultural land and with it the loss of fertile topsoil.
In addition, this project will include the evaluation of techniques that might be applicable at other locations where stabilizing eroded stream banks would be beneficial. This initial project will be a demonstration to other local farmers that might be interested in stabilization of riverbanks on their land.
The necessary permits have been obtained from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Town of Caneadea. Construction will begin as soon as water levels allow.

Mallards Dairy streambank restoration site / Town of Caneadea
Middle Genesee River Watershed Study

Genesee RiverWatch secured a $24,805 grant from New York Sea Grant to complete a streambank restoration plan for the Middle Genesee River Basin - downstream of Letchworth State Park and north to Avon, NY. Our intent is to assess that section of the river and its tributaries to determine segments that have significant bank erosion, identify restoration options, estimate the cost and feasibility of those options, and create a plan that details the cost and feasibility of a Middle Genesee River program. Work by SUNY Geneseo suggests that the streambank erosion and river meandering in this part of the basin is different than that which is found in the Upper Basin.
Once the Middle Basin study is completed Genesee RiverWatch will extrapolate the results of this study along with the results of our previous study in the Upper Genesee River Basin across the entire watershed. The overall goal is to assemble a detailed proposal that defines the feasibility, benefits, and cost to complete a basin-wide streambank restoration program. Ultimately, Genesee RiverWatch plans to present the results of that study to federal and state officials and solicit their support of a multi-year funded program to complete the restoration. 
Genesee River Institute - Watershed Education and Outreach
As part of its mission "to champion solutions that improve the water quality of the Genesee and initiatives that connect people to the River", Genesee RiverWatch has embarked on the creation of the
Genesee River Institute. The Institute's objective will be to enhance public knowledge of the Genesee River and commitment to its future health and use through formal and informal environmental education and promotion of local research. 
In 2016, Genesee RiverWatch reached out to area partners to form the "Genesee River Institute Collaborative", charged with designing and enacting this vision.  The Collaborative includes the City of Rochester, Genesee RiverWatch, regional colleges and others with expertise in education and the river.
When fully-implemented,  the Genesee River Institute will work to facilitate river-oriented education and outreach programming across the educational spectrum, including:  science and math oriented K-12 education modules on the river; college level classes provided by local college partners; adult education classes; educational boat and bike tours of the river; workshops by local colleges and organizations on Genesee River issues; youth summer camp activities; and collection and display of promotional materials from various recreation and tourism related organizations and businesses.

A $20K grant has been secured from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute as part of its Community Grants Program.  This funding will allow us to plan and produce an educational summit, convening educators and other stakeholders from the region to assess the current state of water-based education and develop plans to improve and increase it.  The grant will also be used to develop, pilot and roll out river-based educational programming with emphasis on practices that reduce river pollutants at their source. Additionally, it will support the convening of a network of watershed educators, with the goal of enhancing collaboration and reach of educational opportunities for the Genesee River watershed's communities. If you are interested in participating in the network, please contact George Thomas at 585-233-6086 or by e-mail. 
Middle School age campers from RIT's Center for Bioscience Education and Technology studied the health of the river this summer.
Seeking Nominations for Annual Awards

Genesee RiverWatch is seeking nominations for the annual Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Excellence Awards. The Awards recognize individuals, organizations and projects that have made significant contributions to the Genesee RiverWatch Mission of "improving the water quality of the Genesee River and its tributaries to create environmental, recreational and economic assets for its communities and connecting people to the river, and encouraging them to explore, experience and celebrate the river."  The awards will be presented at the Genesee River Bash on Saturday, October 7th, 2017.

The award categories are:
  • Individual(s) or organization(s) whose work has been influential in mobilizing stakeholders to improve the water quality of the Genesee River Basin and its tributaries to create environmental, recreational and economic assets for its communities and connect people to the river, and encourage them to explore, experience and celebrate the river.
  • Significant project(s) or event(s) that have contributed to improving the water quality of the Genesee River and its tributaries to create environmental, recreational and economic assets for its communities and connecting people to the river, and encouraging them to explore, experience and celebrate the river. (Nominators must provide specific and quantifiable results of these projects or events.)
  • Individual(s) whose volunteer work on behalf of Genesee RiverWatch has significantly aided Genesee RiverWatch in its Mission.
The Nomination Form can be found here. Email your nomination no later than September 1, 2017 to: George Thomas.
If you have questions regarding the nomination process, call the Genesee River Watch event staff at (585) 233-6086
2016 Award Winners - Dueppengiesser Dairy, Perry, NY
Save the Date: 2nd Annual Genesee River Bash!   
Since its founding in 1974, Genesee RiverWatch's parent organization, the Center for Environmental Initiatives has held a fall celebration and fundraiser - SAVE the DATE for this years event - our 2nd Annual Genesee River Bash.

Genesee River Bash 
Saturday Evening 
October 7th, 2017
  Port of Rochester Terminal Building, 1000 North River St. Rochester, NY
A River Celebration featuring Food, Music and Entertainment 
With Awards, Networking, Silent Auction and Exhibits from Outdoor Lifestyle Suppliers and River-Focused Organizations

Want to know more?   Visit our website and be sure to watch our film:  "Restoring Our River - Work Worth Doing!".   This 12 minute film tells the story of the Genesee River - its history, significance to our region and how we can - as its caretakers - restore the water quality of the river. 

Want to Volunteer?  Check out our Volunteer opportunities

Our work is just getting started and we need your help!

Thank you to our 2017 Sponsors!

Main Stem Supporter ($1,000 or move level)

Letchworth ($500 level)
Tributary ($250 level)

O ur Mission: To champion solutions that improve the water quality of the Genesee and initiatives that connect people to the River.
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