U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will allocate $575,000 in federal funds to initiate the final design phase of the Braddock Bay restoration project.
Specifically, the EPA funding will go to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to flesh out and complete the design of the preferred project alternative, an approximately $9 million plan to combat invasive species, conduct wetland channeling and potholing, and construct a new beach barrier so that any bay improvements would not be soon washed away.
The design phase is expected to be completed by September 2015. EPA’s decision to get this project underway comes after Schumer visited the Bay back in March and sent a letter to the EPA Administrator, asking her to prioritize the project. Schumer said that EPA’s decision is excellent news for the boating community, environment and local homeowners around Braddock Bay who have suffered from the blockage of the navigation 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.
The plan being designed will protect the bay from severe damages caused by Lake Ontario and make the bay more accessible to boaters, fishers, residents, and recreational users, all while better protecting the environment. The initial funding for this project will come from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which received additional funds, thanks to Schumer’s push, as part of the recently-passed Water Resources Reform & Development Act.
Schumer said he will continue pushing the EPA to provide the additional $7-9 million in construction costs in order to make the Braddock Bay restoration a reality. 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.
“Once final design plans are in place toward the end of next year, the only step remaining will be to secure the funding for the construction phase of the project, and I will continue to stay on EPA to make sure they recognize how much of a priority this should be. This project would not only help the local economy and increase the value of nearby homes, it would have significant environmental benefits by restoring habitats for native wildlife. It’s a win for everyone involved and we must keep the momentum going,” said Schumer.
Press Release, August 4, 2014