Stop the Erie Canal Clear Cut
The New York State Power Authority, new managers of the Erie Canal Corporation, are in the process of removing acres of trees from the Canal towpath from Medina to Fairport.
We are asking that this work be halted so that a more comprehensive discussion can be held. We believe this discussion could lead to a plan that addresses the concerns of the Power Authority AND protects the values of the wooded trailway.
Why is the Power Authority Removing Trees?
To summarize the NYPA and Canal Corporation’s case:
- Tree removal is a proactive measure to prevent seepage of water along woody roots on the canal’s embankments.
- Seepage could cause the eventual collapse of the embankment walls.
- The current vegetation makes thorough inspection impossible.
- No other approach except complete woody vegetation removal minimizes risk of embankment collapse.
Why are we challenging the Power Authority?
The trees lining the Erie Canal towpath have a variety of values. These include:
- Providing shade, a windbreak, and scenic beauty for Canal users.
- Providing high quality habitat for wildlife, especially thanks to proximity to a water source.
- Providing privacy to homeowners and properties bordering the Canal path.
In addition, replacing trees with grass will have a negative effect on the carbon footprint of the Canal, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that can be absorbed and necessitating regular mowing of 100+ new acres of lawn.
Upon reviewing the science, we do not believe that the safety case is strong enough to justify losing the other values of trees to the Canal Path without more careful consideration.
The historical record indicates that prior Erie Canal embankment collapses have been primarily associated with the failure of culverts that deliver smaller waterways under the canal and/or digging or other work on the embankments.
The NYPA failed to perform an environmental review, which we think is a gross oversight.
What Can I Do?
Senator Rich Funke (Perinton), Chair of the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, and Recreation committee, has sent a letter to the NY Power Authority asking for more public input. We think it would be helpful if he took a more public role, so calling him could help raise this issue out of the "local issue only" level: (585) 223-1800 or Funke@nysenate.gov
The next step for elected officials is the Governor's Office. You can call at 1-518-474-8390 from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, or you can contact his office via a website contact form: https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form
If you belong to a local or statewide environmental group, please encourage them to ask the NYPA to halt the project so that more interests are at the table.
Keep checking here for any updates!