Members from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE),
Buffalo District Planning, Environmental Analysis, and Project Management teams
conducted an inspection of the construction activities associated with the
Braddock Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project, January 29, 2016, located at the
Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area, Greece, NY.
Along with representatives from the New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and State University of New York Brockport,
the Buffalo District team met with the contractor, Wesson Group LLC of
Johnstown, NY to assess construction activities and to provide guidance and
Through the use of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)
funds, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), requested USACE to
develop a study that would evaluate the feasibility of various measures to
implement aquatic ecosystem restoration at Braddock Bay. That feasibility study
was the first step in the $7.994 million restoration project working to
restore Braddock Bay, a 340-acre coastal wetland consisting of 180-acres of
emergent marsh and 160-acres of submerged aquatic vegetation.
The plan will restore the emergent marsh through 9.65 acres
of channeling and potholing, which will benefit the environmentally sensitive
black tern, 5.3 acres of invasive species treatment, and will restore the
historic barrier beach through a combination of hard and soft components.
“The restored barrier beach will reduce wave energy in the
bay, thereby protecting the remaining coastal wetlands and facilitating the
expansion of wetland habitat. The barrier beach will also create a 2.6 acre sand
beach favorable to shorebirds. The creation of the barrier island would afford
stopover habitat for 16 bird species, which is more than double the number of
shorebird species that are presently utilizing the project area,"
says Chris Akios, USACE wildlife biologist.
Wesson Group is currently undertaking the channeling, potholing,
and sidecasting portion of the restoration plan. This activity began on January
15, 2016 and is about 65% complete. This portion of the project is expected to
be finished by March 15, 2016. Channeling, potholing, and sidecasting activities
will add habitat variability and will facilitate the establishment of a diverse
“The excavation of the channels and potholes is being guided
by state-of-the-art technology, which will provide as-built drawings with great
level of detail and accuracy. The unseasonably warm weather has not slowed down
progress, and work is right on schedule to be completed in mid-March,” says
Sheila Hint, USACE project manager.
Once the channeling and potholing activities are completed,
construction of the barrier beach portion of the project will begin in May of
2016, followed by invasive species management, and implementation of a
comprehensive planting and seeding plan to be completed by spring of 2017.
“The Wesson Group
is doing an incredible job of interpreting the ecological objectives of our
work by building a degree of variability and heterogeneity into the base
designs,” said Joshua Unghire, USACE restoration ecologist. “In addition to helping the features appear
more natural, it also maximizes the diversity of habitats we are creating.”
Buffalo District team members were pleased to note that
the contractor understands and appreciates the goals and objectives of the
“The work to this point by the Wesson Group is
going above and beyond our expectations by taking the initiative to create more
sinuosity within the channels than initially prescribed, which provides an even
more natural appearance to the marsh,” said Akios.
The Braddock Bay Ecosystem Restoration Project is the
result of an interagency partnership between the USACE Buffalo District and the
USEPA. Project partners that have been key drivers of this project include the
Town of Greece, NYSDEC, and the Rochester Embayment Remedial Action Plan
Oversight Committee. Partnerships such as these are a great benefit to the
project because of the larger pool of technical expertise working towards one
Recreational boating and fishing will also likely see a
boost as a result of this project. The breakwater will reduce turbidity in the
Bay, thereby improving foraging habitat for salmonids, smallmouth bass, and the
northern pike, which is one of New York State’s most important sport fish.
Braddock Bay is one of the largest coastal
wetland ecosystems in the state and is part of the Rochester Embayment Area of
Concern (AoC). This habitat restoration project may help in delisting this
biologically rich and economically important area. The Braddock Bay Ecosystem
Restoration project takes a major step toward improving the overall health and resiliency
of the Great Lakes’ ecosystem.