Protected Shores: Enhancing Your Shoreline Property
Western Finger Lake watersheds, NY

Grantee: Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation Distric
Basin Program Funds: $9,000
Non-federal Funds: $4,650
Project Duration: 07/1999 - 07/2000
Status: complete

Problem Statement
The western Finger Lake watersheds of New York are experiencing rapid redevelopment and growth along the shoreline. Property facing development pressure often has significant problems, because much of the best property has already been developed. Lots are often too small, slopes are too steep, they lack sufficient soil cover for the required infrastructure, or are too low relative to the lake level for proper development. In these cases, development problems such as crowding, poor or inadequate sewage treatment, vegetation loss, destruction of shallow riparian areas, and soil erosion are exacerbated.

Protected shores pamphlet.

The public lacks an understanding of the relationship between sedimentation and water pollution in the Finger Lakes region. Further, the public is generally not aware that sediment transports nutrients and toxic chemicals to the water. While some pollution control needs, such as sewage treatment, can be addressed through infrastructure programs, others, such as loss of shoreline vegetation and increased erosion, require a different approach. These nonpoint pollution problems can appear insignificant if considered in isolation, and their cumulative impact is not well understood. Often riparian owners resist what they perceive to be "intrusive regulations" because they wish to use their properties as they see fit.

Watershed protection groups have been prompting watershed awareness on individual lakes for almost 25 years, but have not had much success in extending this awareness to the Great Lakes basin. The Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation District proposed an information and education program to increase awareness of all these connections and build important bridges between shoreline and upland interests.

A project team that included an intern from William Smith College identified existing publications that addressed issues in the watershed. Where existing publications were not adequate, the project team developed new ones. The team also developed several Protected Shores workshops that were tailored to meet the needs of several different audiences. Five workshops were presented during the project period to audiences that included cottage owners, local decisionmakers and contractors. Features of the workshop included presentations on natural beaches and shores, including their formation, structure and function, as well as soft and hard engineering methods that can be used to protect them. Workshop leaders provided attendees with technical advice on choosing the appropriate approach to shoreline protection and enhancement according to the scale and severity of the problems at individual sites. The literature developed for the watershed was also available to the attendees. Concurrently, the project team offered elementary schools in the area the opportunity to participate in macroinvertebrate workshops. Fifth and sixth grade students from three local schools participated in the day-long studies.

Information on Protected Shores reached over 4,000 watershed residents. Information included workshop announcements, as well as additional educational material. Project team members presented the Protected Shores workshop to a total of 780 people during five events. The team also worked with 200 school-age children to present a macroinvertbrate workshop and teach them about the impact of sediment on aquatic life.

Contact: Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation Distric, (716) 396-1450


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