Onondaga Environmental Institute

Onondaga Environmental Institute

A Community Comes Together on “Restoring Native Brook Trout in Onondaga Creek”
Photo Caption
OEI’s Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) grants, with instrumental support from partners including The Central New York Land Trust, made a new bridge possible, which is now ready for use at Pleasant Valley Preserve, and the site is open again for visitors.
Photo Credit
The Central New York Land Trust

Upon closeout in 2022, Onondaga Environmental Institute’s (OEI) Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) grant,
Phase 2 of “Restoring Native Brook Trout in Onondaga Creek”, proved to be a great success despite
numerous obstacles stemming from the pandemic and other unexpected hurdles. At the completion of
this project, the following accomplishments were achieved in the West Branch of Onondaga Creek: (1)
removal of a 300 cubic-yard gravel bar at Red Mill Rd, (2) removal of 18 Large Woody Debris (LWD) jams,
and (3) replacement of two undersized culverts with a timber bridge. Collectively, this work has rectified
one barrier, improved stream habitat within a two-mile section of stream, improved aquatic
connectivity a minimum of 8.5 miles between mainstem and tributary (N=4) habitat, and improved fish
passage along 7 miles of the mainstream West Branch for the enhancement of native Brook Trout
populations. In addition to the ecological benefits achieved because of this project, the culvert removal
effort that occurred on a Central New York Land Trust property in June 2022 has already received
significant positive feedback from the public and has increased recreational opportunities in the
watershed. Stream monitoring has shown improvements in physical habitat within the study area,
documented long-term temperature suitability for Brook Trout, and increases in fish species richness
from previous surveys. Long-term monitoring beyond this grant will continue to help demonstrate the
positive impacts this project will have on expanding Brook Trout populations throughout a significant
area of the West Branch.
OEI, with instrumental support from partners, was able to meet and exceed performance measures. The
target value of 3.6 for instream miles restored was exceeded by 4.9 for a total of 8.5 miles restored. For
fish passage improvements, the target value of 6 miles was exceeded for a total of 7 miles of stream
opened. The target value of rectifying 1 passage barrier was achieved as proposed for fish passage
OEI is grateful for the community’s response to this project, including The Central New York Land Trust’s
Facebook post on July 3, 2022 regarding the new timber bridge, “Pleasant Valley is worth a visit for the
wildlife alone. Last evening we were mesmerized by the cacophony of frog and bird songs while we
watched cedar waxwing and yellow warblers dive through the air catching insects from this new vantage
point. Do yourself a favor and connect with your favorite natural space, or find a new spot to stop,
breathe, and experience the wonders of our wilderness.”

A 30-Year Legacy

Today, we continue a 30-year legacy of restoring the once heavily -polluted Onondaga Lake into a Central New York success story. 

But that’s not all…

Environmentally, we are:

Conducting research;

Educating the community;

Performing ecological restoration; and

Empowering all to participate in decision-making;

Please give today.

The health of our environment depends on it.

Onondaga Environmental Institute
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