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For Release: Friday, October 16, 2020

DEC Announces Grand Opening of Onondaga Lake Boat Launch Site Dedicated to Kenneth P. Lynch

Facility Includes Ample Parking and Many Features Accessible for Wheelchairs and Visitors of All Abilities, Trailered Launch for Motorized Boats, Cartop Launch for Canoes and Kayaks, and Fishing Platform

Amenities Complement Ongoing Onondaga Lake Revitalization and Other New Projects Like the Camillus-to-Onondaga Lake Empire State Trail Segment

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the completion and grand opening of the Onondaga Lake Boat Launch Site in the town of Geddes, Onondaga County.

"The Ken Lynch boat launch site provides enhanced recreational opportunities along Onondaga Lake that were unthinkable just a generation ago," DEC Commissioner Seggos said. "Water quality has improved, aquatic populations are rebounding, and bald eagle numbers and other wildlife are increasing. This project makes it possible for anglers, boaters, and outdoor enthusiasts to experience a reinvigorated Onondaga Lake."

Details of the Boat Launch Site

The site is dedicated to Kenneth P. Lynch for his commitment to the restoration of Onondaga Lake. Lynch served as Regional Director of DEC's Region 7 for nearly two decades, and most recently as Executive Deputy Commissioner until his retirement in March 2019. His tireless efforts and leadership helped enable all New Yorkers to access and enjoy this magnificent resource.

View of the boat launch with people unloading a boat on the launch

The Onondaga Lake Boat Launch Site offers free launching capabilities for trailered motorboats and cartop boats, such as canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Site features provide access for wheelchairs and visitors of all abilities. The new launch site complements the Loop-the-Lake Trail extension that traverses the site.

The boat launch facility was funded through an Environmental Benefit Project (EBP) as part of an Onondaga Lake cleanup Consent Order with Honeywell. EBPs are agreed to as part of the settlement of an enforcement matter and are designed to benefit the local community and environment.

Site features that enhance safe and enjoyable access to Onondaga Lake include:

  • Double width, center-launch ramp with two accessible floating boarding docks on either side to allow launching of trailered motorboats even as water levels fluctuate;
  • Separate car-top boat launch with designated accessible parking;
  • Accessible fishing and viewing platform;
  • Accessible picnic area with concrete pathway, pads, and tables;
  • Temporary wheelchair accessible portable toilet, with a permanent accessible restroom facility to be constructed this spring;
  • Paved parking area that accommodates 30 vehicles with trailers and 30 single vehicles, with additional designated accessible parking for both trailered and single vehicles;
  • Solar-powered safety lighting, designed to minimize light pollution;
  • Multiple tie-down areas with invasive species disposal bins and running water for flushing bilges and livewells and hosing off boat surfaces to help reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species; and
  • Designated boat preparation area for safer and more efficient launching.

New Empire State Trail Section from Camillus to Onondaga Lake

New York State also announced completion of a 3.5-mile section of the Empire State Trail that is now open to the public. The new trail, which is also part of the Erie Canalway Trail, starts at Reed Webster Park on Warners Road in Camillus, and runs east to Bridge Street. The 10-foot wide trail has a compacted stonedust surface and gentle grades and is accessible to bicyclists, walkers, and runners of all ages and abilities. Parts of the trail follow the original Erie Canal that opened in 1820 and operated until 1910, when the canal was relocated to its current location through Oneida Lake. The trail was constructed by Honeywell as part of their settlement through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan process.

two people riding on bikes on the new portion of path

From Bridge Street, the Empire State Trail route runs through the State Fairgrounds, and then continues east on existing bicycle/pedestrian bridges across I-690, where it joins the Loop-the-Lake Trail on the south shore of Onondaga Lake. West of Reed Webster Park, the Empire State Trail follows the existing Erie Canalway Trail toward Rochester.

The new trail segment is part of the Empire State Trail, a 750-mile bicycling and hiking trail from Buffalo to Albany and from New York City through the Hudson and Champlain Valleys to Canada. New York State and Onondaga County are constructing additional trail sections that, when completed in December 2020, will create a continuous bicycling and walking trail from Camillus through Syracuse to DeWitt. The projects will eliminate a 14-mile gap in the Empire State Trail, and will connect downtown Syracuse to the State Fairgrounds starting in 2021.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "This work brings us closer to filling in gaps in the Empire State Trail, and creating the longest multi-use state trail in the nation. The project also will allow more people to see for themselves the environmental progress that continues to be made at Onondaga Lake."

Success of Onondaga Lake Cleanup and Revitalization

Onondaga Lake is the cleanest it has been in more than 100 years. Under the strict oversight of DEC and EPA, Honeywell completed dredging, capping and habitat improvements and is now in the long-term monitoring and maintenance phase. Wastewater and stormwater improvements are also contributing to a cleaner lake and watershed. Under the direction of DEC, Onondaga County has vastly improved water quality through facility upgrades and reduced stormwater impacts with their award-winning Save the Rain program that continues to serve as a national model.

panoramic view of boat launch site

With these significant efforts, Onondaga Lake habitat is recovering. Native fish and wildlife are returning, the ecosystem is flourishing, and the lake is now supporting a range of recreational uses. The cleanup of Onondaga Lake is creating opportunities for the public to reconnect with this resource. In addition to the Lakeview Amphitheater, Empire State Trail, Loop-the-Lake Trail, Onondaga Creekwalk, and Inner Harbor development, plans are progressing to continue expanding public access and user engagement with the lake under the Natural Resource Damage and Assessment process.

The community conversation has shifted toward Onondaga Lake as a public asset. Volunteer opportunities such as the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps allow the public to contribute to restoration projects that are creating or improving wildlife habitat in the Onondaga Lake watershed.

The results that have been accomplished at Onondaga Lake build on decades of work by incredible scientists and engineers, as well as scores of volunteers, who have gathered and analyzed data, provided valuable input, developed solutions and implemented projects that are helping achieve a remarkable recovery.

Onondaga Lake Fisheries

View of the new bike path

Onondaga Lake has a surprising number of fish species present. Sixty-five fish species have been documented in recent years, up from as few as nine in the 1970s. Largemouth bass are plentiful and can be found in shallow water during much of the year. Anglers may also catch smallmouth bass, sunfish, perch, northern pike, walleye, and tiger musky.

Onondaga Lake is a frequently studied waterbody, and it's not uncommon to catch a tagged fish. If someone does, write down the tag number, fish species, length, and catch location, and call the phone number on the tag to report it. Please don't remove the tag from any fish that is released. Current fishing information is available on DEC's Central New York Fishing Hotline.

DEC reminds anglers and boaters that they play a major role in preventing the spread of invasive species, and responsible practices should be employed to help stop their spread. Following recommended guidelines such as properly cleaning, draining, and drying your boat and gear will lessen the likelihood of spreading invasive species and diseases and help protect this great resource for years to come.

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