Central New Yorkers have a chance this weekend to see up-close some of the latest changes to 90 acres of restored wetlands around Onondaga Lake. The free event put on by Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps aims to help restore the bond between the lake and the community.
Program coordinator Chris Lajewski credits the strong private and public partnership between Honeywell and conservation organizations for restoring the lake and its habitat.
“The old adage, if you build it they will come, is very appropriate here at Onondaga Lake. We have built it; we have helped restore 90 acres of wetlands and shorelines, over a million native plants have been planted in these areas, and over 100 species of birds are now thriving here.”
That includes birds that have previously been on New York State’s threatened species list.
“The bald eagles are showing up and they were almost wiped off the map and there was only one last nesting pair of bald eagles in all of New York State 40 short years ago. But because of conservation efforts, the bald eagles are thriving in the state with over 350 nests and we are optimistic that one of these days we’ll have a bald eagle nest at Onondaga Lake.
Lajewski is also director of the Montezuma Audubon Center. He says the newest habitats have spread to the southwestern portion of the lake, near Harbor Brook and Hiawatha Boulevard. Participants will help document the plant and wildlife species they see.
“We constantly get feedback that, ‘boy, back when I was a child, I remember how polluted the lake was and not seeing bald eagle s and a great variety of native plants.’ Folks now, their eyes open up and they now see the lake as a restored habitat.”
The Saturday event is open to all ages, and takes place from 9:00 to noon starting at the visitors center off I-690 near the fairgrounds Orange lot. Those who want to attend should R-S-V-P by Wednesday by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 315-365-3588.