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Environment & Science

Recreation & Restoration Projects Continue to Improve Use and Access of Onondaga Lake


Lots of people have opinions about health of Onondaga Lake and recreation around it.  An update today from Onondaga County and Honeywell, hosted by FOCUS Greater Syracuse, shows that a number of projects addressing both concerns are moving right along. 

County Office of Environment Director Travis Glazer notes water quality has been a topic on other bodies of water due to algae.

“Beaches have been in the news quite a bit lately.  There’s been a lot of discussion about water quality, access to beaches, about whether beaches should remain open.”

Glazer notes, health concerns that closed Skaneateles, Jamesville and other beaches would not have shut down Onondaga’s waters.

“All the information, all the data we’ve invested in over time, watching and monitoring the lake is showing us clearly, we’re 10 years of clean, swimmable water.  Those same standards that will be held (and closed beaches in) other water bodies, Onondaga Lake has been swimmable during a 10-year-long period.”

The county is in the middle of a beach feasibility study.  They’re also continuing to extend the Loop-the-Lake trail along the southwest part of the shoreline.  And the county and city are working together on a lake-side park at the end of the city’s Creekwalk.  Honeywell has been working to clean the lake – not always to everyone’s satisfaction.  But Remediation Director John McAuliffe says there’s also been extensive shoreline work bringing back 90 acres of wetlands.

“What type of habitat was going to be best for the fish?  What type of habitat was going to be most consistent with what was native, what had been there?  But at the end of the day, it’s really nice to go out there and see the wildlife return to the wetlands we planted.”

McAuliffe says Honeywell planted 800,000 plants to restore wetlands.  They’re also submerging 2000 structures underwater to attract fish. 
The group FOCUS Greater Syracuse hosted the meeting.  They say more than a thousand people filled out surveys hoping to boat, swim, fish and have other recreation in and around Onondaga Lake.  (FOCUS plans to release details of its latest survey on uses local residents want to see for Onondaga Lake soon)