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Natural Resource Management Projects

Drone image of the Honeoye Inlet, captured by The Nature Conservancy

Honeoye Inlet Restoration Project

The Honeoye Inlet has a huge impact on the nutrients and sediment that feed into the lake. Many organizations partnered together to reconstruct the inlet into its original structure which had a series of meanders and was much shallower. By adding several ditch plugs to the lateral channels of the inlet, this created small ponds, allowing water to slowly infiltrate and wildlife habitat to flourish. Water can now access the flood plain during storm events rather than rushing into the lake. This project helps to reduce approximately 30% of the total nutrients and sediment entering Honeoye Lake. The Nature Conservancy, the Ontario County Soil & Water Conservation District, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Honeoye Valley Association, Finger Lakes Community College, the Honeoye Lake Watershed Task Force, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service came together to use nature as a filtration device. This area is now flourishing with wildlife and is slowing the sediment and nutrient loading into Honeoye Lake. These organizations worked together for the future of our environment and are well deserving of the Seneca Park Zoo Society's Environmental Innovation Award for their incredible efforts! 

Drone image of the Honeoye Inlet, captured by The Nature Conservancy
Photo showing tree tubes with freshly planted trees
Honeoye Inlet Restoration

Mill Creek Streambank Stabilization

The Town of Richmond partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation District to implement a stream restoration project along Mill Creek within Sandy Bottom Park. This restoration project will significantly reduce sediment inputs, improve aquatic functions, and reduce the potential threats to private residential homes and public infrastructure. By using nature based design structures like toewood and stream rock structure, this project will stabilize eroding banks while providing improved fish habitat. The goals of this stream restoration project were to enhance stream habitat, reduce concentrations of sediment, detain and slow runoff, and provide stable conveyance of flows through the stream channel. Prior to the construction, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, USFWS, and Ontario County SWCD spent a morning electroshocking this section of Mill Creek to evaluate the current fish population. They will survey this area again in about a year to evaluate any population changes. Ontario County Highway Department has provided final stabilization by hydroseeding disturbed areas. Be sure to check this out the next time you are at Sandy Bottom Park. It is accessible from the East Lake Road parking lot.

Before photo showing erosion along Mill Creek's stream bank


After photo showing stabilized stream bank along Mill Creek


Mill Creek

Honeoye Lake Shoreline Stabilization Project

With funding from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Water Quality Improvement Project Grant Program, Ontario County Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Ontario County Water Resource Council, the Town of Richmond installed a natural shoreline stabilization project using coir wrapped soil lifts that incorporate native plant materials. The rock placed in front of the project is necessary to reduce wave energy and ice scour seen at the north end of Honeoye Lake. Existing trees and shrubs were kept in place to keep the shoreline protected and over three dozen additional plantings as well as live stakes were added to promote deep rooted vegetation to further stabilize the shoreline. The NYS DEC promotes the use of natural materials to stabilize shorelines rather than hardened structures such as retaining walls and gabion baskets. A naturally vegetated shoreline helps reduce erosion, filters excess nutrients from entering the lake and provides habitat for fish and wildlife. Ontario County SWCD was able to obtain funding through the NYS Sea Grant to pay for the engineering and design work for this project. This stabilization project can be seen in Sandy Bottom Park, adjacent to the public swimming area. 

Photo showing erosion along the shoreline of Honeoye Lake
Photo showing rock structures installed along shoreline to absorb some of the wave action energy as well as the plantings along the shoreline for stabilization



The signage installed at the project site to describe the project
Photo showing the purple flower, Emerald Blue Mountain Pinks, planted along the shoreline with a plant label
Shoreline Stabilization

Vernal Pools

Vernal pools, also called ephemeral pools, are temporary pools of water that provide habitat for distinctive plants and animals. The pools are a type of wetland, usually without fish, that allows safe development of amphibian and insect species unable to withstand competition or predation by fish. Most vernal pools are dry for at least part of the year, and fill with spring rains and winter snow melt. Some pools may remain at least partially filled with water over the course of a year, but all vernal pools dry up periodically. Upland areas around a vernal pool are critical to the survival of some species. Many amphibians that breed only in vernal pools spend most of their lives in the uplands within a few hundred feet of the pool. Eggs are laid in the vernal pool, then juveniles leave the pool two or three months later, returning the following spring to breed. Many more vernal pools enriched Finger Lakes landscapes in prior decades, but were drained for agricultural or development reasons. Opportunities to view wildlife are among reasons that private homeowners might wish to create or restore a vernal pool on their property. Flood mitigation, groundwater infiltration, water storage and habitat enrichment for many species of plants and animals are additional benefits of the created vernal pools. 

Photo showing a small excavator constructing the vernal pool in the woods
Vernal pool in the woods in the fall time
Photo of the installed ford crossing on a logging road

Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs) in Richmond

As part of the Water Quality Improvement Project Round 11 grant focusing on sediment reduction in the Honeoye Lake Watershed, forestry best management practices were installed at the Honeoye Inlet Wildlife Management Area. The BMP’s installed included one rubber belt water bar, two earthen water bars, and one ford crossing. These BMP’s will reduce erosion on forest trails and logging roads. The public is encouraged to view these completed projects. Access to the trailhead is located on East Lake Road in Richmond.


For more information on forestry BMPs, click here.

Forestry BMPs
Vernal Pools
Photo showing Grimes Creek with stabilized stream banks with rock structure, hydroseeding, and tree plantings

Grimes Creek Stabilization

The Ontario County Highway Department and the Ontario County Soil & Water Conservation District partnered to stabilize a streambank on County Road 33. The streambank had severe erosion issues and flooding problems. The Highway Department aligned this area of Grimes Creek to its’ natural channel and the eroded banks were shaped and stabilized. The area was then hydroseeded and willow stakes were planted in order to provide extra stabilization for the bank.

Grimes Creek
Before photo showing severe erosion along drainage area

Drainage Stabilization Project in Geneva

Two grade control structures and rip rap lining were installed within a drainage near Reed Road in the Town of Geneva. The stabilization of this headcut will reduce erosion and sediment loss from the drainage area that turns into a stream running to Seneca Lake and will reduce the amount of nutrients and sediment entering the lake.  The project was complete through a partnership with the Town of Geneva and Ontario County DPW.

After photo showing stabilized drainage area with rock structures



reed rd

Naples Creek Streambank Stabilization Project

The project focused on stabilizing Naples Creek stream bank, access road and agricultural field as well as installing a rock cross vane to improve flow and reduce aggradation in Naples Creek. In the Spring of 2017, Naples Creek in the Town of Naples experienced high water flows and snagging of large woody debris, leading to stream bank failure and overflow into the adjacent agricultural field, causing massive erosion. There was a cut 2-3 feet deep along the stream bank where water left the stream channel and flowed over the access road and agricultural field. The large concentrated flow caused massive erosion along the road and field owned by the Village of Naples. This sediment and nutrient laden water rejoined Naples Creek further downstream.  Noting the elevation of the agricultural field is lower than the current streambed elevation of Naples Creek, the concern was the stream may redirect itself through the agricultural field as a path of least resistance. Within the stream channel, USFWS designed a bank stabilization project using toewood with soil lifts as well as a rock cross vane to redirect flow to the center channel. This redirection would help in preventing aggradation (build-up of deposited material in the stream bed) in Naples Creek. Ontario Soil & Water Conservation District offered assistance with project funding, permitting and management with collaboration with partners from the Village of Naples, NYS Department of Conservation, NYS Department of Transportation, US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Ontario County. In addition to the work in Naples Creek, the adjacent access road was stabilized with geotextile and additional rock material. Working with the farmer who rents the agricultural land from the Village of Naples, it was determined that approximately 1.7 acres would be taken out of production and stabilized with grass to be used as a permanent grassed overflow area for high flow events to reduce soil loss from the field and filter sediment from stormwater. 

Spring 2017 image of Naples Creek with multiple trees blocking the flow of water

Spring 2017

September 2017 photo of stabilized stream bank with fabric and tree plantings

September 2017

January 2018 photo showing ice chunks and excessive water floding creek

January 2018

August 2018 photo showing stream is still stabilized and functioning as planned

August 2018

Naples Creek
Photo the sediment trap with sediment left behind from a recent storm

Sediment Traps in Honeoye

In August of 2018, the Ontario County SWCD worked with the Ontario County Highway Department to install sediment traps along County Road 36 in Honeoye. These concrete traps are placed in‐line with a roadside ditch. As water enters the open end, the sediment trap slows down the flow, causing deposits of sediment to stay within the concrete barrier. The water then slowly exits through two holes. The traps can easily be cleaned because they are the same dimensions as a standard ditching bucket. While the Ontario County Highway Department is cleaning ditches, they can use the same equipment to clean the sediment traps. In cases of high flowing water, the sediment trap will still allow water to safely flow over the top and continue in the ditches for proper drainage.These sediment traps will decrease sediment entering into waterways that flow into Honeoye Lakes. As you head south on County Road 36, keep your eye out for these structures!

Sediment Traps
upland water retention basin filled with water

Upland Water Retention at Kashong Conservation  Area

The Ontario County SWCD and Ontario County Department of Public Works assisted the Town of Geneva with the Kashong Conservation Area Upland Water Retention Project. District staff helped to design two basins that, during a rain event, will hold back water and slowly release it through a 6 inch outlet pipe. This will slow down water and allow for sediment to be deposited upslope in the basins. By collecting and slowing down stormwater in upland areas such as the Kashong Conservation Area we are able to reduce the amount of sediment entering Seneca Lake during major storm events.

upland water retention basin near hiking trail
upland water retention basin with red flowers growing
debris guards installed in front of culvert
debris guards installed

Debris Guards in Cratsley Gully

The debris guards at this location are constructed placing pipes vertical across the stream bed before the inlet to the culvert under the road. These debris guards will collect woody material and shale as it is carried downstream during major rain events. These debris guards will help to stop material before it reaches the culvert and more importantly before it reaches the lake and is deposited.

Stream Stabilization at Fishers Park in Victor

Ontario County SWCD completed a stream stabilization project in the Town of Victor at Fishers Park to control erosion and sediment through Best Management Practices. This project utilized toe-wood for natural stream channel design. The design supports habitat for aquatic species and recreational access for the community. Prior to project installation, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) performed an electroshocking survey to document fish species and population numbers. This survey will be performed again in following years to see how population levels are affected by the project. Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance (FLLOWPA) funds were used for materials and labor and technical assistance through project design and implementation. The Town of Victor provided match in the form of materials, equipment and labor. US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) provided design and technical support for the project. The Town of Victor will be planting native trees and shrubs along the riparian corridor to further stabilize the area and provide additional wildlife habitat.

Fishers Creek post construction just beginning to green up
Fishers Creek before construction showing erosion on stream bank

Fishers Creek before construction

Fishers Creek post construction just beginning to green up


Flexamat Installed on Cratsley Hill Road, Jersey Hill Road & Canadice Hill Road

The Ontario County Soil & Water Conservation District partnered with the Town of Canadice Highway Department to stabilize several ditches experiencing severe erosion along Cratsley Hill Road, Jersey Hill Road and Canandice Hill Road. Erosion from steep roadside ditches, such as these, has a direct effect on the water quality in downslope Honeoye Lake. Nutrients are bound to sediments and when erosion occurs and washes these sediments downslope they accumulate in our waterbodies and can help fuel the occurrence of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). These particular sites were stabilized using a material called Flexamat. Flexamat is a permeable mat made of woven material overlaid with concrete blocks in a grid pattern. This provides the stabilization needed to withstand flows from stormwater during major rain events while also leaving space between the blocks for vegetation to establish. This vegetation helps to further stabilize the road ditch while also filtering and slowing water. Funding for this project was made possible through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Water Quality Improvement Project with match funding coming from the Town of Canadice in the form of labor and equipment. This project is part of a larger, ongoing effort in the Honeoye Lake Watershed to reduce sediment and nutrient loss from roadside ditches. The District would like to thank the Town of Canadice Highway Department for their expertise in installing this project!

Cratsley Hill Road:

Photo showing severe erosion in roadside ditch on Cratsley Hill Road


Flexamat installed and hydroseeded

After Hydroseeding


Jersey Hill Road:




Canadice Hill Road North:




Canadice Hill Road South:





Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Treatment at Grimes Glen

In 2022, we kicked off a program to control Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), an invasive species that threatens our hemlock trees. In February 2022, the Ontario County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) partnered with the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, Finger Lakes PRISM and the Finger Lakes Land Trust to hold an event at the Cumming Nature Center training volunteers in identification and reporting of HWA as well as treatment options. Having current knowledge of infestations helps prioritize chemical treatment and supports bio-control, both necessary tools in the long-term management of HWA.
For a start, 68 hemlock trees were treated at Grimes Glen in the fall of 2022. Several funding sources, including a recently awarded Environmental Benefits Project from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as well as a grant obtained from the US Forest Service will be used in 2023 to treat hemlocks at Grimes Glen, Briggs Gully and Harriet Hollister State Recreation Area.
Protecting our critical riparian corridors helps stabilize streambanks and protects water quality. The District looks forward to continued work with a variety of partners and local landowners to identify and monitor the HWA threat and target efforts of chemical control and bio-control releases for long term management. Keep an eye out for upcoming trainings to learn how you can get involved.


Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Treatment at Briggs Gully

2023 brought the continuation of our Hemlock Woolly Adelgid treatment program. Funding provided through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) allowed us to treat almost 30 acres along Briggs Gully, a major tributary to Honeoye Lake. The Briggs Gully parcel provided a unique opportunity for treatment as it is bordered by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) lands, as part of the Honeoye Inlet Wildlife Management Area, as well as the Wesley Hill Preserve owned by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Each of these partners strategically treated trees on their respective parcels leading to an even larger regional effort to protect hemlock trees in this important watershed. Additional GLRI funding will also be used to support this localized treatment effort in upcoming months.

Hemlocks help protect our steep sloped areas, but it can make access to trees difficult. These critical areas require the use of ropes, a lot of courage and advanced repelling skills! Trees were treated with a basal bark application of two different chemicals, one that is fast acting and will provide immediate protection and one that is longer lasting to ensure that our hemlocks stay protected for up to 7 years. You may recall from previous newsletters that this area has also been a focus for the release of insects for biocontrol, which will provide the long-term control needed.

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