New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of a new pilot program, as part of the Reimagine the Canals initiative that uses water from the Erie Canal to enhance already renowned fishing opportunities in Western New York. Originally announced as part of the Governor’s State of the State address in January 2020, the program will encourage New Yorkers and visitors to experience the state’s Canal system in a different way, while also expanding tourism and bolstering small businesses in the region.
“This fall, New York is enhancing some of our world-class fisheries and expanding opportunities for anglers into December by creatively using water from the Erie Canal to bolster fishing conditions and to extend the season,” Governor Cuomo said. “As a fisherman, I’m pleased to see our incredible Lake Ontario tributaries will be host to even better experiences for anglers. This innovative use of iconic infrastructure continues our strong tradition of ecotourism while supporting our small businesses.”
The New York State Canal Corporation is methodically releasing water from the Erie Canal into Lake Ontario tributaries, increasing the water levels and flows in streams and encouraging fish to travel farther upstream, which expands areas for ideal fishing conditions. In addition, the Canal Corporation will extend the annual draining of the canal in Western NY to create a longer season for anglers.
This fall, the Canal Corporation increased regulated water releases into Orleans and Monroe County’s premium streams—Oak Orchard Creek and Sandy Creek. In early November and early December, all the other Lake Ontario tributaries, Eighteenmile, Johnson, Oak Orchard, Sandy and Salmon Creeks, will see higher flows. This will entice more brown trout, steelhead, and Atlantic and Pacific salmon populations to run up these streams, improving conditions for the fish and expanding opportunities for local and visiting anglers.
NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones said, “This year, the Erie Canal has been a lifeline of economic stimulation across upstate New York. We’re proud to launch this program – putting a spotlight on our fishing opportunities and welcoming new anglers into our fishing community—giving New Yorkers one more way to reimagine the canals and take advantage of its water resources.”
New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “Fishing on the Lake Ontario tributaries was already world-class and well known to experienced anglers. We’re proud that our Canal’s infrastructure can be used to enhance the fishing experience for New Yorkers and be a catalyst for restarting the economy in Western New York.”
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “The Reimagine the Canals pilot project will encourage even more New Yorkers to get outside and enjoy our state’s natural resources. Water releases will benefit both the fish in these waters and the angling public by providing quality fishing opportunities, bolstering tourism, and supporting local economies.”
Throughout the length of the program, the Canal and tributary waters will be monitored for quantity and quality to document the success of the pilot. For details and more information, please visit the Canal Corporation’s website.
This fall, DEC is reminding anglers to be SMART when fishing this year and to be mindful in taking precaution to stop the spread of COVID-19:
This past summer, DEC and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation launched the PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL Campaign to encourage all New Yorkers to recreate safely, responsibly, and locally and to always treat fellow outdoor adventurers with respect. The campaign invites people to take the PLAY SMART * PLAY SAFE * PLAY LOCAL pledge, and promise to use common sense to protect themselves and others when enjoying the outdoors. During the State’s ongoing response to COVID-19, New Yorkers across the state want and need to get outside for a nature break, which is good for physical and mental health.
The campaign and pledge include common sense guidelines for smart and safe recreation, including incorporating social distancing and wearing a face mask, planning trips ahead, choosing a destination close to home because public restrooms and restaurants may not be open, and visiting at off hours. The agencies are also encouraging New Yorkers to take the pledge and use the hashtag #PlaySmartPlaySafePlayLocal when sharing their outdoor adventures on social media.
New Yorkers are strongly advised to plan their outdoor adventures ahead of time and choose alternate destinations if their first choice is closed or crowded. Check parks.ny.gov and 511 for park capacity closure alerts and visit the DECinfo locator to find the nearest DEC-managed lands. DEC and State Parks websites also feature guidelines to help New Yorkers safely engage in outdoor activities including swimming, hunting, fishing, boating, golf, and hiking. Indoor spaces and restrooms at State Parks and DEC public facilities may remain closed out of an abundance of caution to prevent community spread of COVID-19, so New Yorkers are encouraged to stay local, within their region, and use the #RecreateLocal hashtag on social media.