Braddock Bay project complete, Area of Concern moves towards delisting

Published Aug. 11, 2020
Two years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District began a $10 million project to restore the Braddock Bay ecosystem in Greece, NY. Erosion had washed away emergent wetlands and invasive species dominated the marshes. Today, species-rich native communities blossom with emergent aquatic meadows, and restored beach habitat are visited by a variety of shorebirds including black-bellied plover, Baird’s sandpiper, and the federally endangered piping plover.

Aerial view of Braddock Bay in Greece, NY, October 16, 2016. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District's project to restore the Braddock Bay ecosystem in Greece, NY was completed on November 15, 2018. The project tackled two major issues affecting the Braddock Bay ecosystem: the loss of wetland habitat caused by wave driven erosion, and degradation of the existing habitat due to invasive species.

The USACE and U.S. EPA will host a media event with guest speakers, Thursday, August 13 at 1 p.m., at the Westpoint Marina at Braddock Bay located at 105 E Manitou Rd., Rochester, NY 14612, to celebrate the completion of the Braddock Bay ecosystem restoration project and moving the Rochester Embayment Area of Concern (AOC) one step closer to delisting.

Restoration efforts across the Rochester Embayment AOC have taken a considerable amount of work from many stakeholders, and the Braddock Bay project was just a piece of the larger efforts.

Speakers for the event include:

  • U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, or representative (Invited)
  • U.S. EPA Region 2, Regional Administrator Pete Lopez
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Commander LTC Eli Adams
  • Town of Greece Supervisor William D. Reilich
  • Associate Professor of Wetland Science, SUNY Brockport, Rachel Schultz

Agenda for the event will be:

  • 1 p.m. – Media Event
  • 1:30 p.m. – Site walk (media is invited)  

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said, "After Braddock Bay suffered critical damage over decades from storms and hurricanes, environmental degradation worsened, boaters cleared out and this once-bustling hotspot became practically vacant. That's why I was proud to secure the over $9 million in federal funds to not only bring Braddock Bay back to its former glory, but also restore boating access and wetlands, create wildlife habitats and make this area a tourism and recreational magnet.  Today, these investments mean Rochester is on its way to becoming one of the 'Areas of Concern' that have been successfully restored and can be delisted."

"The restoration of Braddock Bay is not only critical to protecting the many unique ecosystems that call it home, but to the economic vitality of the Lake Ontario waterfront community," said U.S. Congressman Joe Morelle. "Thanks to these improvements, Braddock Bay will be an important environmental and recreational asset for years to come. I am grateful to the EPA, the DEC, and the many government and community partners who came together to make this project a reality."

"Completing the Braddock Bay project paves a direct path to effectively restoring the Rochester Embayment and ultimately, rehabilitating Lake Ontario back to health," said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez.  "The remarkable work accomplished at Braddock Bay plays a vital role in improving fish and wildlife habitats, growing the local economy, and protecting human health and the environment."

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proud to have delivered this project that uses natural and nature-based features to have restored the three-acre barrier beach that protects the marshes of Braddock Bay. This contributes to the delisting of the Rochester Area of Concern and is a model of coastal resiliency on the Great Lakes. It was because of the strong partnership between the NYSDEC, Town of Greece, Monroe County, EPA, USACE, and SUNY Brockport, along with funding from the GLRI program, and support from our federal officials that has made this project successful,” said LTC Eli Adams, USACE Buffalo District Commander.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner and Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, “DEC appreciate the federal agencies for their resources and partnering with New York State on this important habitat restoration project within the State’s Fish and Wildlife Management Area. This innovative project leads us all one big step closer to restoring the Rochester Embayment Area of Concern’s many impairments, and to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s priority to increase shoreline resilience along Lake Ontario.”

“EPA’s restoration of Braddock Bay dramatically improved access to Lake Ontario and has brought about a resurgence in the town’s waterfront economy, including the complete rehabilitation of the 300-slip public marina which had been starved of revenue after years of poor lake access.  Slip rentals have increased 1000% and the marina is expected to run at full capacity in the short term.  All the activity has resulted in employment and recreational opportunities, opportunity for area restaurants and businesses, and revenue for the town.  When added to the underlying ecosystem restoration purpose of the project, this was a win for everyone,” said Town of Greece Supervisor William D. Reilich.

“I first envisioned a Braddock Bay wetland restoration that included rebuilding the barrier beach while I was conducting Lake Ontario research as part of the International Joint Commission’s Great Lakes Water Levels Reference Study in the early 1990s. I am grateful that I was able to work with the Corps of Engineers and EPA to see it come to fruition,” said Doug Wilcox, Ph. D. SUNY Brockport.

Project Fast Facts:

  • Braddock Bay comprises one of the largest and most important coastal freshwater wetland complexes in New York State.
  • Regional shoreline hardening altered sand transport patterns which resulted in the gradual loss of 100 acres of wetlands to wave erosion.
  • Project restored 1,700 feet of the lost barrier beach and will shelter 180 acres of emergent marsh as well as improve water clarity for 160 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation.
  • This project restored a barrier beach and coastal wetland via 11,400 feet of channeling, 6.7 acres of potholing, and 9 acres of invasive species treatment in the central Braddock Bay marsh. It also created 2 acres of additional coastal marsh habitat.

Phase I of the Braddock Bay project was completed in March 2016 and consisted of the excavation of channels and potholes within the existing marsh to improve fish and wildlife habitat. Phase II was completed in September 2018 and consisted of rebuilding a barrier beach in the bay's mouth that will reduce erosion of wetlands within the bay and provide habitat for shore birds.

The Rochester Embayment was designated as an AOC under the 1987 U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement due to environmental degradation caused by human activities. With funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, federal, state, and local governments have made significant progress in addressing environmental challenges, particularly in the areas of protecting and restoring fish and wildlife habitat, and in beach improvements.

NYSDEC and Monroe County are now focused on documenting the success of addressing environmental, human health, and economic impairments, and are on track for delisting the Rochester Embayment AOC in 2022.

In case of inclement weather, the location of the event will be at “The Lodge” located at 199 E Manitou Rd., Rochester, NY 14612.

Andrew Kornacki
716-352-8669 (cell)
1776 Niagara Street

Release no. 20-020