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(Images courtesy of the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)
(Images courtesy of the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)

Hochul announces new pilot program to improve public access along WNY's Lake Ontario tributaries receiving water from Erie Canal


Fri, Dec 3rd 2021 04:40 pm

Access and conservation easement program through ‘Reimagine the Canals’ initiative will expand angling access to streams while preserving local environment

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday announced a new pilot program to improve public access along Western New York's Lake Ontario tributaries receiving water from the Erie Canal in Monroe, Orleans and Niagara counties. Through the “Reimagine the Canals” initiative, the New York Power Authority, Canal Corp., and Department of Environmental Conservation have entered into a partnership to implement the "Access and Conservation Easement." The program has been created to provide one-time payments to waterfront property owners to secure public fishing access and other conservation rights. The eligible properties are along north flowing Lake Ontario tributaries that are currently and proposed to become part of the “Reimagine the Canals” fall fishing program.

"Fishing during the fall season is a cornerstone of recreation in Western New York, and I am delighted to announce the expansion of our efforts to maintain optimal conditions and improve opportunities for anglers," Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "Through the ‘Reimagine the Canals’ initiative, this partnership between the state and local landowners in key fishing areas will connect community and conservation along the Lake Ontario tributaries and will provide New Yorkers with additional areas to cast a line while increasing tourism and bolstering local businesses."

A request for expressions of interest is being developed and will be issued to allow landowners in the designated areas to provide property and contact information to be considered for inclusion in the program. The ACE program will be piloted on several waterfront properties in Monroe, Orleans and Niagara counties selected through the RFEI and will follow a transparent process by which an easement price will be determined, with an option for landowners to opt-out at any point prior to reaching an agreement.

The easements will provide public fishing access and convey to the rights to maintain easement areas to improve water quality, enhance habitat, and reduce erosion. Easements or rights-of-way will reside with DEC ensuring public access and water quality improvements into the future.

NYPA Interim President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, "As part of our ‘Reimagine the Canals’ fall fishing program, we are proud to create the ACE program in partnership with our colleagues at DEC. Conservation efforts are crucial for our state's environmental protection, and we look forward to the numerous benefits this program will provide communities and anglers who take advantage of New York's world-class fishing destinations."

New York State Canal Corp. Director Brian U. Stratton said, "For two seasons now, the Canal Corp, has been increasing regulated water releases from the storied Erie Canal to improve spawning conditions and enhance angling opportunities in Western New York. These efforts are another example of how our canal system connects our past with the present, and the ACE program is a perfect complement to our fall fishing program by providing anglers more and better access."

DEC Commissioner Basil Segos said, "Developed with our partners at the New York Power Authority and Canal Corp., the ‘Reimagine the Canals’ Access and Conservation Easement program is a creative approach to enhancing public access to quality fishing experiences in Western New York, drawing anglers from across the state to experience the region's world-class angling opportunities while protecting water quality and the environment at each site. DEC is pleased to collaborate on the ‘Reimagine the Canals’ fall fishing initiative, which is bolstering fall fishing opportunities and local economies across Western New York."

Based on an analysis of current and future public access needs, NYPA estimates investing up to $1.25 million over 10 years into the ACE program. This program will expand New York's fall fishing program, which releases water, when appropriate, over an extended period to increase the flows in Lake Ontario tributaries throughout the fall and extends the draining of the Erie Canal to create optimal fishing opportunities and a longer season for anglers.

For more information on New York state's fall fishing program, visit the Canal Corp.'s website.

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