Onondaga Lake photo exhibit shows off the lake's improving ecosystem
The birds, wildlife, and restored habitats of Onondaga Lake will once again be on display as part of an annual photo exhibit this weekend. The Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps put on its first exhibit in 2012. Since then, director Chris Lajewski the lake has undergone an amazing transformation, and birds like the bald eagle have followed.
“10 years ago, you would have seen a few bald eagles. Maybe up to a dozen during the winter months. The number of bald eagles every year since then has increased exponentially. A couple of years ago, we had over 100 bald eagles along the shore of Onondaga Lake. This year, we had well over 60.”
Bald eagles are a favorite of photographers, even though more than 200 bird species have been identified in and around the lake. Lajewski said that’s a far cry from just 20 years ago, the lake was still the most polluted in the country.
“Now, because of the clean-up efforts and restoration of the shoreline and wetlands, the birds and other wildlife are responding do that. We’re seeing something that has never been done in Central New York, where you have a Superfund site that has been brought back from the brink of extinction.”
Not only has wildlife returned, but so have people, who can be seen walking, biking, and running around the lake and even paddling in its waters. The exhibit will feature 30 photographs from more than a dozen longtime and new photographers, all of whom are expected to be on hand Saturday to talk about their work. Lajewski said they’re an important part of documenting the lake’s ongoing recovery.
“We have to continue to tell the story and continue to manage these habitats. If we don’t, I’m afraid we may fall back to a place where we were 100 years ago when bald eagles were nearly extinct and Onondaga Lake was not the thriving ecosystem that it is today.”
This year’s exhibit returns in person Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Honeywell Visitor’s Center. All photos are up for bid through a silent virtual auction through April 2.