U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund a project to restore Braddock Bay, where the boating community, environment and local homeowners have suffered from the blockage of navigations channel, and loss of wetland habitats following the erosion of a former barrier beach that had protected the bay from Lake Ontario’s rougher waters.
Schumer explained that the EPA should fund the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) approximately $9 million preferred project, designed over the past year, to construct a new barrier beach.
This breakwater will protect the bay from severe damages caused by Lake Ontario, which will make the bay more accessible to boaters, fishers, residents, and recreational users, all while better protecting the environment. Once hailed as a boater’s paradise, local recreational boating has declined over the past decade as the bay has become increasingly too shallow to navigate; over the past decade the number of regular boaters has declined by roughly 300-350.
In addition, there are approximately 100 homeowners with docks on the bay whose property value is threatened by the Bay’s decline.
“Braddock Bay was once the scene of a bustling boating community, but sediment deposits have made boating on the bay to Lake Ontario a hazard. So I want the EPA to fund an Army Corps’ project to restore the bay back to its former glory, by reconstructing a new sand beach barrier to protect the bay from future erosion and damage that clogs up the bay’s boating channels,” said Schumer. “This project would not only help the local economy and increase the value of nearby homes, it would have significant environmental benefits by creating new habitats for wildlife. It’s a win for everyone involved and it will be my priority to get the EPA to fund the project.”
With funding provided by the EPA beginning in January 2013, the USACE developed three proposed alternative Braddock Bay Restoration plans, including a “No Action Alternative,” “Alternative 3,” an approximately $1.2M proposal which only included channeling and potholing to promote wetlands restoration and “Alternative 7c,” which is the USACE’s preferred alternative and proposed an approximately $9M plan to treat invasive species, conduct wetland channeling and potholing, and construct a new beach barrier so that any bay improvements would not be soon washed away.
Schumer is now pushing the EPA to support and fund this preferred project to help restore the bay.
This project is supported by the Town of Greece, the local boating and marina community.
As of February 27, 2014, the Rochester Embayment Remedial Action Plan Oversight Committee, which helps direct the environmental restoration of local waters, formally confirmed its support of the preferred alternative 7c.
The EPA is currently assessing the plans for potential implementation.
Finally, the project would restore wetlands, and create new channels and deeper “potholes” areas in the bay where wetlands and marine wildlife could repopulate.
This would boost animal populations like the Northern Pike, which is among the State’s most important sportfish and bird species like the Black Tern.
The Braddock Bay Bird Conservation Area is a world renowned bird watching region and attracts bird enthusiasts from around the nation and world which helps support the local economy.
In addition to asking the EPA to select the preferred project for funding, Schumer vowed to fight for more funds for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which is the pot Schumer is targeting for this project, to increase the chances for Braddock Bay to receive full funding throughout the completion.
The Army Corps estimates that construction can begin in twelve months once funding is approved.
Press Release, March 20, 2014