New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced the beginning of the dredging process at Oak Orchard Harbor, a vital navigation channel in Orleans County, that is used for access to Lake Ontario. The dredging aims to eliminate built-up sediment from the bottom of the waterway to permit continued safe passage of watercraft as part of a $15 million Regional Dredging Initiative through the State's Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative.
"Communities along Lake Ontario have been forced to grapple with the impacts of extreme weather and flooding for the past several years and New York is doing everything within its power to bolster the shoreline and ensure we do not see a repeat of 2019," stated Hochul. "By undertaking these types of dredging and resiliency efforts, we are not only keeping people safe and easing the minds of lakefront homeowners, but also protecting the wildlife in the coastal habitats and helping boost tourism by creating safe recreational access for boaters."
Around 8,400 cubic yards of sediment is expected to be removed by the Oak Orchard Harbor project, most by mechanical dredging. After being removed, the sediment will be put in a designated nearshore area of the harbor to the east.
"With Governor Hochul' s continued strong support and leadership, we at OGS are moving full steam ahead with the significant work that is getting accomplished under the REDI Regional Dredging Initiative,” noted Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito of Hochul’s recent announcement. “Working together with State, federal, local, and private sector partners, our efforts are benefitting recreational boaters, supporting local economies, and improving the habitats of wildlife along the great Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River."
Recently, Hochul has also announced two additional dredging projects in Wayne County. The Pultneyville Harbor project has a goal to eliminate approximately 4,000 cubic yards of sediment from the federal navigation channel, while the Bear Creek Harbor project will remove approximately 600 cubic yards of sediment from the waterway as well.
"These dredging projects will be a great navigational benefit to the regional boating community, which is a vital part of the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River tourism and recreational economy,” said New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid of Hochul’s announcement. “One of these projects this season allowed for the reopening of the boat launch at Golden Hill State Park in Niagara County, which had been closed due to sediment accumulation. These investments will result in benefits that will continue for years to come."
Currently, New York state has finished nine REDI dredging projects, which have dredged an estimated total of 41,750 cubic yards of sediment. Accomplished projects include Port Bay, Blind Sodus Bay and East Bay in Wayne County, Sandy Pond Inlet and Salmon River/Port Ontario in Oswego County, Irondequoit Bay and Braddock Bay in Monroe County, Little Sodus Bay in Cayuga County, and Golden Hill State Park in Niagara County.
"The start of dredging work in Oak Orchard Harbor today marks a critical milestone in New York State's sustained investments and infrastructure improvements in Orleans County that are strengthening protections along Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline communities and helping New York communities rebuild stronger, smarter, and more resilient,” New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and REDI Co-Chair Basil Seggos remarked. “Governor Hochul's REDI team of experts continue to advance dredging projects that enhance harbor navigation throughout the region."
Through its first and second phases, the dredging initiative aims to dredge up to twenty different harbor navigation channels, with a total of over one hundred thousand cubic yards of sediment estimated to be removed by the project’s end.
"New York State has made critical investments to strengthen the local infrastructure that is essential to the economic stability and growth of our shoreline communities,” commented New York State Senator Pamela Helming. “These projects represent an important partnership between our counties and towns, the state, and the REDI Commission. I thank everyone involved for their continued hard work and commitment."
Other future dredging initiative sites in New York state include Olcott Harbor in Niagara County, Johnson Creek in Orleans County, Sandy Creek and Long Pond Outlet in Monroe County, Clayton French Creek Marina and Henderson "The Cut" in Jefferson County, and Ogdensburg "City Front Channel" and Morristown Navigation Channel in St. Lawrence County.
"I applaud New York State and the Lake Ontario REDI Commission for identifying and proactively addressing the issue of harbor dredging in the towns and ports along Lake Ontario's southern shore,” New York State Senator Robert Ortt stated of Hochul’s recent announcement. “For many of these towns, their ports are the reason the town is able to survive from a tourism and economic perspective, and the ability to access these ports is vital to their existence."
REDI was originally created to address the consistent flooding patterns along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Five REDI Regional Planning Committees, comprised of representatives from eight counties: Niagara and Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga, Oswego, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence, were formed to recognize local urgencies, endangered infrastructure, and other public safety matters.
"As we look for ways to support and promote recreational activities along the shorelines of Lake Ontario, the dredging of Oak Orchard Harbor is vital to providing access to the over 400 boat slips and 6 launch lanes within the harbor,” remarked Orleans County Legislature Chairman Lynn Johnson of Hochul’s announcement. “This project undertaken by the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative demonstrates the commitment by the Governor to maintaining access to the navigable waterways that contribute to the success of the local fishing, boating and tourism activities within the Town of Carlton and Orleans County."
The REDI Commission has thus far allocated $20 million for homeowner aid, $30 million to enhance the resiliency of local businesses, and $15 million for a regional dredging effort beneficial to each of the eight REDI counties. The residual $235 million has been earmarked towards local and regional projects that expand and exemplify the REDI mission.
"The REDI Program continues to assist municipalities along the Lake Ontario Shoreline in preparedness for future flooding events,” Town of Ontario Supervisor Frank Robusto said of Hochul’s recent announcement. “The dredging at Bear Creek will ensure that the harbor remains open and safe for both visitors and those who call the town of Ontario home. We are thankful for the continued partnership with the State."
This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program.