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The Seneca Park Zoo is co-sponsoring this year’s “My Genesee” Airigami balloon event at the Sibley Building in downtown Rochester on Saturday, February 6th, from 10am – 4pm. Based on prior year’s attendance, this seems like a great opportunity to get the word out about all the good work that is happening in the region!

An article on the upcoming event can be viewed here:

The Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Award may be given each year to:

• Individual(s) or organization(s) whose work has been influential in mobilizing stakeholders to restore the water quality of the Genesee River Basin, improve access, increase use or encourage economic development that benefits from and contributes to the water quality of our region.

• Significant project(s) or event(s) that have contributed to restoration of the water quality of the Genesee River Basin, improved access, increased use or encouraged economic development that benefits from and contributes to the water quality of our region.

• Individual(s) whose volunteer work on behalf of CEI and its Genesee RiverWatch Initiative has significantly aided Genesee RiverWatch in its Mission.


Allen Kerkeslager received the Award for the significant contributions he has made in the founding and development of Genesee River Wilds, an Allegany County-based organization whose mission is to “Restore and protect the upper Genesee River.”

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William Hart, President of Genesee River Wilds, receiving the Elizabeth Thorndike Award on behalf of Allen Kerkeslager from William Hallahan.

Working through the Genesee River Wilds Project, the organization provides a holistic watershed management plan for the Upper Genesee River. “Its primary strategy is to transform the Genesee River corridor into an economically productive eco-tourism resource that will simultaneously improve the water quality of the river while addressing the economic needs of surrounding communities.”

These efforts have resulted in public-private partnerships that established four boat launch sites on the upper River. Efforts are underway to partner with two campgrounds and provide additional access. Allen has linked Genesee River Wilds with the Triple Divide Greenway and Trail System, the Rochester Remedial Action Plan, the Water Education Collaborative, the Lake Ontario Lakewide Action and Management Plan, and Genesee RiverWatch to promote collaboration amongst like-minded organizations.

Allen brought the river as a recreational resource to the forefront of national paddling attention with his article “Paddling as Conservation Strategy: the Genesee River Wilds Project”, which highlighted the upper river in the Fall-Winter 2012 issue of Canoe News, the official publication of the United States Canoe Association. As a regional leader in this field, Allen was included in the Greater Rochester Active Transportation Symposium in 2011 and was a valued participant at Genesee RiverWatch’s inaugural Genesee River Basin Summit in 2014.


The City of Rochester received the Award for the significant contributions it has made to provide public access to, and improve the water quality of, the Genesee River in 2014 and 2015 including building neighborhood trail connections to the Genesee Riverway Trail and improvements to Turning Point Park Trailhead.
The City of Rochester constructed five neighborhood trail connections to the Genesee Riverway Trail, including:

• Harding Road/Brewster Park to Turning Point Park
• St. Paul Street Trailhead
• Vincent Street Open Space
• Plymouth Avenue Greenway Connector
• Genesee Valley Park Connector

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Norman H. Jones, City of Rochester Commissioner of Environmental Services, receiving the Elizabeth Thorndike Award from Michael Storonsky.

The various trail connections close gaps in the city-wide trail system; link adjacent neighborhoods to recreation, historic and cultural destinations; enhance the scenic and recreational opportunities associated with the river; and provide important non-motorized travel opportunities.
The City also renovated the Turning Point Park Trailhead which increased the amount of parking and protected the adjacent mature wooded area. Green stormwater management techniques were used to infiltrate runoff from the parking lot and trails including rain gardens, biofiltration and porous pavers. The trailhead is now a demonstration and interpretation center for sustainable/green design elements.


The Genesee Headwaters Watershed Association received the 2015 Elizabeth Thorndike Environmental Leadership Award for its significant contributions to improving the water quality of the Genesee River.

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Darrell Davis, Vice President, Genesee Headwaters Watershed Association, receiving the Elizabeth Thorndike Award from William Hallahan.

Based in Genesee, Pennsylvania, the GHWA actively monitors both the chemistry and aquatic life of the Genesee River headwaters and its tributaries. In addition, its members have been active in recording accelerated stream bank erosion, then planting riparian buffers and undertaking stream restoration projects to address the erosion. Some of their accomplishments include:

• East Branch of the Genesee River, upstream of Hickox, Pa., Potter County. Two projects were untaken to stabilize over 800 ft. of river bank which are estimated to save more than 130 tons of sediment from being washed away each year.

• West Branch of the Genesee River. Three projects were completed that stabilized over 400 ft. of river bank saving many tons of sediment from being eroded away annually.

• Since 2005, GHWA has used grants totaling $265,000 to complete 26 stream projects within the 82 square mile drainage basin from Potter County, PA north into New York State.

• GHWA also seeks to promote new, innovative ways to protect and enhance the high quality water resource found in the area by providing educational programs to area youth and adults.

3rd Annual Genesee River Basin SUMMIT

Streambank Erosion, Soil Loss & Sediment

May 25, 2016

8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

RIT Campus


Erosion of streambanks in the Genesee Basin is a major ecological and economic problem for our region.  In an average year, over 450,000 tons of soil flow down the river to Rochester, causing:

  • Loss of valuable farmland
  • Costly dredging to keep Mt. Morris Dam operational and Rochester Harbor open
  • Sediment levels that reduce fish populations and make our rivers unappealing for recreation and tourism
  • High nutrient levels that lead to harmful algal blooms and beach closings

For its 3rd Annual Genesee River Basin Summit, Genesee Riverwatch presents an in-depth discussion of the issues associated with the severe erosion of streambanks in the Genesee Basin. Join us on Wednesday, May 25th, for a series of presentations by state, regional and local experts. Participate in the subsequent discussions as we work to develop a strategy for dealing with these problems.

 Who should attend?

  • Boaters – canoe, kayak, power, sail
  • Colleges & other educational institutions
  • Engineering & environmental consulting firms
  • Farmers & other agriculture organizations
  • Government agencies
  • Legislators
  • Media representatives
  • Regional Economic
  • Development Council members
    Watershed associations
  • Business owners
  • Community & homeowner associations
  • Environmental organizations
  • Fishermen – individuals & charter operators
  • Land trust members
  • Logging firms
  • State, county & municipal officials
  • Wastewater treatment operators
  • Anyone with an interest in our river


The Summit will cover four major areas:

  1. The Problem – A review of the geology of the basin, the SUNY study that demonstrated the extent of the problem, and the prioritization of this issue with state agencies.
  2. The Impact – Impacts of erosion on farmland and other properties, economic development, the costs of erosion and soil loss, habitat, and dredging costs throughout the basin.
  3. What’s Being Done? – An overview of what has been done to date, including studies of erosion, watershed groups, water quality monitoring, riparian buffers, and specific soil loss reduction projects.
  4. What Can and Should Be Done? – Analyze the technical and economic feasibility of significantly reducing streambank erosion in the entire basin.  Attendees will be asked to contribute their ideas and experience to this discussion, helping to develop a strategic plan that can guide current and future efforts.


When & Where: Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM, Louise Slaughter Hall at RIT.*

Fee: Free; but donations are much appreciated!

Registration required: Registration Link

Includes: Continental breakfast and afternoon break. Please bring your lunch or use the food service facilities available on campus.

Download a flyer2016 Summit Flyer

Downlad an agenda: Summit Agenda 

* - Map and parking permit (required).

Note: A table will be made available for attendees to place small amounts of information about their organization that they would like to share with other attendees. 

The Summit is sponsored by the following organizations. Thank you!

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CNB Stacked Color
Larsen Logo
ESLogo cleanup  


MF Logo GreyBlue

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Participating & Invited Organizations:

  • Genesee RiverWatch – Convener
  • Dr. Joseph Makarewicz, SUNY Brockport, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus
  • Dr. Richard Young, SUNY Geneseo, Distinguished Service Professor
  • Genesee River Basin Coalition of S&WC Districts (Invited)
  • New York Department of Agriculture & Markets
  • New York Department of Environmental Conservation (Invited)
  • New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
  • Oatka Creek Watershed Committee
  • River Street Marina
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey

Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM
SUNY Geneseo, MacVittie College Union Ballroom, Geneseo, NY

The purpose of this summit was build on the success of last year’s first ever Genesee River Basin Summit by creating an annual Basin Report Card that will be used to:

•   Raise awareness of the Genesee and the condition of its waters

•   Provide a basis for conversation about what needs to be done to improve water quality in, and access to, the Genesee River

•   Establish visible targets for the work of stakeholders

  • Give us all a way to measure progress on those targets
  • Help attract more funding to execute critical projects

Listen to a Pre-Summit Interview on WXXI's 1370 Connections - starts at the 6:00 minute mark, after the Albany legislative report.

Interview with Scott Fybush:

Genesee River Basin Summit, which Genesee RiverWatch is hosting on Wednesday. It’s a gathering of groups interested in improving the water quality of the river and the surrounding area that depends on it. We'll discuss what will be discussed at the summit with:


Download the presentations:

State-Level Genesee River Basin Activities   Steve Gladding, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY 

Update on the creation and future use of the 9-Element plan DEC created for the Genesee River Basin in 2014. Describe results of 2014 RIBS Monitoring (Rotating Intensive Basin Survey- 1st year Screening Samples) for the Genesee River Basin. Other topics include Trees-For-Tribs, WAVE program, Basin priority with DEC and EPA.

Download Steve's presentation 
Oatka Creek and Black Creek Watershed Management Plans

David Zorn, Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council, Rochester, NY

Overview of the process and content associated with the recently-completed Oatka Creek Watershed Management Plan and Black Creek Watershed Management Plan. Download David's presentation
Rochester Embayment Area of Concern

Charlie Knauf, Monroe County Department of Health, Rochester, NY

Update on the status of the effort by the Rochester Embayment Remedial Action Plan Advisory Committee to de-list the Area of Concern (AOC) by 2016. Topics include the Braddock Bay restoration project and the Kodak/Genesee River study. Download Charlie's presentation
Progress Since the 2014 Summit

George Thomas, Center for Environmental Initiatives, Rochester, NY

Overview of what CEI has been able to accomplish since the 2014 Genesee River Basin Summit. Topics will include streambank stabilization, new website, projects in the Upper Basin, nutrient recovery, and City of Rochester.

Download George's presentation

Agriculture Best Management Practices Funding in Basin

Ben Schmidt, Natural Resource Conservation Services, Batavia, NY

Overview of recently-secured funding for implementation of agricultural BMPs in three priority watersheds within the Genesee River Basin: Black Creek, Canaseraga Creek, and Upper Genesee River.


Download Ben's presentation


Download a detailed agenda

folder See the "Our Work" menu for proceeding from last year's 2014 Summit


2014 Community Salute to the Environment

Sept 30th CEI's Annual Community Salute to the Environment

pdf Download a copy of the program! (24.68 MB)

The Center for Environmental Initiatives (CEI) is hosting its 40th Annual Community Salute to the Environment on Tuesday, September 30th 2014. Come join us to celebrate CEI's 40th Anniversary, our Environmental Award recipients and our ambitious new Genesee RiverWatch initiative.

Date: Tuesday, September 30th 2014

Time: 5:30pm to 9:00pm

Place: La Luna Italian Restaurant and Banquet Center; 60 Browns Race, Rochester, NY 14614 at High Falls

The Community Salute is CEI's main fundraiser and your support will further the work of the organization to protect the environment in the Greater Rochester and Finger Lakes region. This event is considered the area's premier environmental networking opportunity with up to 200 individuals in attendance from government, business and industry, civic and environmental groups, professionals and concerned citizens.


• Exhibits from local environmental service and product vendors

• Networking cocktail hour

• Dinner

• Community Environmental Leadership / Excellence awards

• Featured topic is a film entitled: Restoring the Genesee River


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