Protected Shores: Enhancing Your Shoreline Property
Western Finger Lake watersheds,
Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation Distric
Basin Program Funds:
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.
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