Stop the Erie Canal Clear Cut


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The New York State Power Authority and the Erie Canal Corporation (CC) removed acres of trees from the Canal towpath from Medina to Brockport in fall and winter of 2017/18. The CC initiated this work without performing the required environmental review, and a legal challenge by the towns of Brighton, Pittsford, and Perinton has stopped the clearcutting for now. However, in all public statements, the CC continues to assert that all of the trees on raised embankments of the Canal should be removed. (See our Media page for news stories about the project and its aftermath)

We believe that trees belong on the towpath, and the bulk of the science supports this position. We continue to ask for a public process to develop a plan that addresses the concerns of the CC AND protects and restores the values of this unique, historic wooded trailway.

Why are we challenging the clearcut?

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.

The CC is using outdated guidance to insist that these 10,000+ trees over 125 acres must come down to ensure safety on the Erie Canal -- a structure that has no historical record of breaches caused by trees. In fact, the historical record indicates that prior Erie Canal embankment collapses have been associated with physical disruption of the embankments by digging and tunneling near by or the failure of culverts that deliver smaller waterways under the canal.

What Can I Do?

We need the Governor and the NY Power Authority Trustees to direct the Canal Corporation to develop an embankment management plan that preserves and restores the natural vegetation along the historic, unique, and beautiful Erie Canal. Tell them how much you value the trees and remind them that the stewardship of this internationally significant resource requires a sensitive and well-vetted management plan, and not the application of generic and outdated guidance.

1) Contact Governor Cuomo'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:

2) Contact the NY Power Authority Trustees: email at

3) Contact your own state legislators to ask THEM to communicate with the NYPA (and Governor) on your behalf. (Assembly members) (Senate members)

4) If you belong to a local or statewide environmental group, please encourage them to contact the Governor and the NYPA.

Keep checking here for any updates!

Initial Project Maps

Letters and Talking Points

invite to vegetation meetings.docx
Canal Clear Cut Maintenance Press Release 11.16.18.docx
proposed speaking out Oct 18.docx
to print for gov cuomo.pdf
Trustees letter 3.18
Holley Meeting Handout 10.18.docx
Press Release Feb.26.2018
Sandy Frankel Comments 12.10 rally.docx
Vegetation Management Plan Input.docx
Speaking Out Essay Vegetation Management Plan .docx

letter to Cuomo.docx
Response to Emergency Repairs on Erie Canal 4.2.18