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SUNY-ESF Boat Tour of Onondaga Lake

Progress, momentum and partners come together to restore Onondaga Lake
10/5

Listen to views of key participants interviewed onboard the Emita II during the boat tour (mp3 audio):

(Syracuse)—"Progress, momentum and partners are coming together to restore Onondaga Lake. Today's boat tour of State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry research sites on the lake and surrounding lakeshore clearly demonstrates our success so far as well as what needs to be done," said Dr. Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr., president of SUNY-ESF aboard the Emita II.

Murphy continued, "We are witness to an unprecedented business, government and educational collaboration in a billion dollar effort." "It's exciting to witness firsthand the benefits of our renewed investment in Onondaga Lake," said Congressman Jim Walsh, who has secured $125 million in direct federal investment for lake remediation efforts thus far, "The lake's fishery is thriving, its water quality is improving dramatically, and its newfound potential to enhance our quality of life is limitless."

The SUNY-ESF boat tour of Onondaga Lake started at Dutchman's wharf on the Seneca River. Following the Seneca River/Erie Canal past Long Branch Park, the Emita II with nearly 100 guests on board, stopped near Beach Street for a report from ESF fisheries biologists monitoring fish populations in the lake.

This summer, Dr. Neil Ringler, ESF's interim dean of research and his students confirmed the presence of large, healthy schools of walleye pike and brown trout.

Continuing along the south shore of Onondaga Lake toward Nine Mile Creek, the tour's second stop was at the Honeywell/Parsons Engineering research boat where water quality monitoring is being done.

The third stop for the Emita II was just past Hudson farms, Nile Mile Creek and the cliffs of waste beds where Dr. Donald Leopold, interim chair of the Faculty of Environmental and Forest Biology, explained the use of native plantings in the waste beds to capture water before it moves through the waste beds, becomes contaminated, and then goes into the lake. The plants should minimize the problem by reducing water flow through the waste beds.

Crossing Onondaga Lake toward the Salt Museum was the fourth, and final, stop on the tour where Richard Elander, commissioner of the Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection, updated wastewater treatment efforts.

The boat then cruised along the north shore of the lake to offer guests a view from the water of Onondaga County's most popular park, which includes ballparks, picnic areas, marina, walking and riding trails.

Onondaga County Executive Nicholas Pirro, who has led the county's $450 million dollar lake project, said Onondaga Lake is improving every day. "We are really starting to see marked improvement in water quality and fish variety and population. Working with the Onondaga Lake Partnership we are committed to restore all aspects of the lake's ecosystem for the community's future use and enjoyment," said Pirro.

"Onondaga Lake is improving daily thanks to the efforts of our federal, state, county and local partners towards cleanup and research efforts," said acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Denise M. Sheehan, "ESF has assisted Onondaga Lake research efforts and continues to demonstrate its environmental and research leadership. New York State's commitment, and the collaboration displayed by our many partners, will help restore this wonderful Lake for generations of New Yorkers to enjoy."

Jessica Crawford, chair of the 40 Below Steering Committee, said, "At the 2004 40 Below Summit, 40 Belowers repeatedly acknowledged the clean up of Onondaga Lake as a key to attracting and retaining young talent in the region. Onondaga Lake has the potential to serve as a recreational and economic centerpiece for the region. 40 Below is pleased to join academic, corporate, and political partners in their collaborative efforts aimed at advancing the restoration of the Lake."

"I commend SUNY-ESF for its valuable research efforts and its partnership in working to clean up Onondaga Lake," said State Senator John A. DeFrancisco, "Events such as this are important in highlighting the progress that is being made toward cleaning up the lake and promoting this wonderful resource that we are fortunate to have in Central New York."

"I am delighted to take part in this enlightening tour of Onondaga Lake and the incredible effort to restore it to its former glory," said State Sen. David J. Valesky. "The work done thus far rehabilitating this lake shows the breadth of knowledge and expertise at SUNY-ESF, and the impact this incredible Central New York institution can have on our environment, our community and our world."

Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll said, "While we applaud the progress of the efforts made to clean up Onondaga Lake in recent years, significant challenges in remediation and restoration remain. We must make every effort to fully utilize the most efficient and efficacious environmental technologies available to achieve long-term and lasting results for future generations. We must expand our cleanup efforts to include all streams and water bodies in the entire 248 sq. mi. of the Onondaga Lake watershed, such as Onondaga Creek."

Assemblyman William Magnarelli said, "SUNY-ESF's contribution to Onondaga Lake cleanup shows just how important university-industry cooperation can be for a community. SUNY-ESF has been an active participant and facilitator in public forums on the recovery plan for Onondaga Lake and has worked with Honeywell and other partners to ensure the cleanup is complete."

"The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry has been an outstanding partner in our efforts to improve the environmental quality of Onondaga Lake," said Assemblyman Jeff Brown, "Its reputation for national-caliber scientific research and its unwavering commitment to the future of Central New York are tremendous assets for the people of this community and for the future of Onondaga Lake."

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Release No. 20, October 4, 2005


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