- By New York State Governor's Office
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," 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.
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:
- Socially distance at least six-feet apart;
- Mask - Wear one when you cannot maintain social distancing, especially in parking lots and along footpaths;
- Avoid sharing gear when possible;
- Respect your fellow anglers and the resource by providing space and practicing ethical angling; and
- Take out what you bring in or place trash in receptacles.
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.