Wildlife protection and restoration plan announced for Onondaga Lake

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - A new plan has been proposed to restore and protect wildlife and water quality around Onondaga Lake.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state DEC has released their plan on 20 restoration projects they say will also increase recreational opportunities at Onondaga Lake.

For decades, mercury and other hazardous substances were released into Onondaga Lake and its tributaries and uplands.

As part of the Onondaga Lake natural resource damage assessment and restoration process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NYSDEC assessed contaminant-related injuries to natural resources such as waterfowl and turtles, and quantified the lost use of natural resources to the public, such as fishing.

The agencies then solicited restoration project ideas from stakeholders to identify the types and scale of restoration needed to compensate for those injuries. The ultimate goal of this process is to replace, restore, rehabilitate, or acquire the equivalent of injured natural resources and resource services lost due to the release of hazardous substances—at no cost to the taxpayer.

The agencies analyze 20 restoration projects in the draft restoration plan and environmental assessment.

When these projects are complete, locals will see:

  • Extension of the Erie Canalway Trail from Camillus to the Loop the Lake Trail (3.2 miles) and from the Honeywell Visitor Center to Harbor Brook (1.2 miles).
  • Preservation, habitat restoration and public access to over 1,400 acres along Ninemile and Onondaga Creeks in the Onondaga Lake watershed, including public fishing rights and parking areas.
  • Installation of structures within over 275 acres of Onondaga Lake to provide habitat for fish, amphibians and invertebrates.
  • 15 years of funding for the identification and removal of invasive species within about 1,700 acres of wetlands, lake/river littoral zone and riparian habitat.
  • Restoration of wetland and fish habitat at Onondaga County parklands.
  • 100 acres of warm season grassland restoration.
  • Deepwater fishing pier on Onondaga Lake.
  • Enhancement of jetties at the Onondaga Lake outlet to improve access for all.
  • Boat launch to be developed along the Seneca River.
  • Transfer of the Honeywell Visitor Center to a public agency.
  • Future Restoration Projects Fund.

There will be an open house on the plans this Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Honeywell Visitor Center. Comments will also be accepted until June 2.

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