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Project Overview

To restore the integrity of raised embankments along certain sections of the Erie Canal and improve the Canal Corporation’s ability to properly manage their condition and keep communities that surround the canal safe from potential flooding due to structural failures, the Canal Corporation has embarked on an embankment maintenance program.

The work has occurred, or will occur, at 56 locations in and around the following municipalities:: Medina, Albion, Brockport, Spencerport and Pittsford.

The Canal Corporation is committed to public safety. Our Embankment Maintenance Program is critical toward that end. We are also committed to performing that work in a way that, to the extent possible, recognizes and accounts for concerns raised by local residents. To ensure we are striking the appropriate balance, we have paused wide-scale vegetation removal while we develop, with community input, a more tailored approach.

Q: Why are we undertaking an embankment maintenance program?

A: Together with the New York Power Authority, the Canal Corporation is taking steps to strengthen and reinforce Erie Canal embankments in Monroe and Orleans counties. This work primarily involves removal of trees and other vegetation, which can weaken embankments through root structure growth. This type of vegetation can provide pathways for seepage, which can potentially weaken embankments and result in failure, leading to flooding of lands surrounding the canal. It also prevents Canal employees and inspectors from being able to thoroughly monitor the integrity of the embankments.

Q: What is the scope of the project?

A: Working closely with affected communities and property owners, underbrush, dead and felled trees will be removed or may be chipped on site. Eventually, any existing tree stumps will be excavated and removed and the affected area will be regraded. As the work progresses, all disturbed areas will be restored by establishing a vegetation surface that will be established with community input and maintained by the Canal Corporation.

Q: What impacts will this project have on your property?

A: The Canal Corporation has taken care to assure the work is being done exclusively on property it owns. Please contact us regarding any permitted structures you have on Canal lands at 518-449-6026. Canal personnel will come to your property to do an assessment and help you determine whether the structure(s) should be temporarily moved.

Q: Who will oversee the contractor to ensure the vegetation removal is being done properly?

A: Canal Construction Management staff will oversee the contractor’s work and will be assisted by consulting firm Arcadis, which is providing construction inspectors as needed.

Q: Can residents obtain the wood from any of the trees that are removed?

A: The contractor is responsible for removing the trees from Canal property. Residents may discuss opportunities to obtain cut trees with the contractor, which owns the trees after they are cut.

Q: Did you consider any alternative approaches to this undertaking?

The Canal’s embankments are meant to be free and clear of vegetation. While this is still the only approach we can take that will be 100 percent effective, we are also committed to performing work in a way that, to the extent possible, also recognizes and accounts for the concerns raised by local residents. In 2018, we will remove dead and felled trees ONLY, as well as underbrush while a more tailored approach is crafted. The project goal is to maximize risk reduction by removing vegetation from the highest-risk embankments first.

Q: How are you communicating this work to the public?

The Canals and NYPA public affairs teams have held conversations and meetings with elected officials at all levels of government as well as stakeholders; five public information sessions have been held to date, as well as private meetings with elected officials and/or homeowners; letters have been sent to NYSCC permit holders where appropriate; updates have been posted on NYSCC’s social media pages including Facebook and Twitter; newspaper ads have been placed to inform the public about upcoming public information sessions and a webpage that is updated regularly was created to share information -- it can be found here: here

About the New York State Canal Corporation

New York’s canal system includes four historic canals: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego and Cayuga-Seneca. Spanning 524 miles, the waterway links the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain. The canals form the backbone of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and connect hundreds of unique and historic communities. In 2017, New York is celebrating the bicentennial for the start of the Erie Canal’s construction.

Image of canals

If you have additional questions concerning the Vegetation Management Project, contact:
Jackie Schillinger, Manager Public and Community Relations
NYS Canal Corporation
30 South Pearl Street, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12207
(518) 449-6026