Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps Members Plant Native Shrubs and Trees and Build Habitat Structures in Newly Created Wetland
Fifty-five volunteers gathered along Onondaga Lake’s western shoreline last month to help build a new wetland. Volunteers planted shrubs and trees, built habitat structures, and participated in citizen science monitoring by tracking native birds. They are part of the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps, an expanding organization of community volunteers who are contributing to restoration projects that are creating or improving wildlife habitat in the Onondaga Lake watershed.
The work along the lake’s western shoreline will transform 20 acres into new wetlands and improved habitat for wildlife. Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps volunteers help revitalize shoreline wetlands and build wildlife habitat structures. On the shores of Onondaga Lake and along the lake’s tributaries, Honeywell is creating or improving a total of 50 acres of wetlands and planting about 1.1 million plants, shrubs, and trees. To date, more than 280,000 shrubs and trees have been planted. Thirty-six acres of wetlands have been restored.
Left: Margaret DeCarlo, of Clay, N.Y., works with Keith Cardinali, a scientist at O’Brien & Gere. Right: Chase Salmons and Linda Salmons, of Camillus, N.Y., plant native species along Onondaga Lake’s western shoreline in an area that will become a new wetland.
Since the formation of the Conservation Corps in summer 2012, eight events have brought together hundreds of volunteers who have become environmental stewards and Corps members.
Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps members take a pledge to protect and conserve the natural resources of Onondaga Lake, promising to educate future generations about becoming caretakers of the water, air, land, and wildlife.
“We brought our family to participate in the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps event because we want to teach our kids to appreciate our surroundings and the local environment,” said Julie Biondolillo, of Pennellville, N.Y. “We also want our children to learn how to take care of and preserve the environment, to learn the work that goes into that.”
Left: Aaron Hludzenski, of Geneva, N.Y., builds a rock pile to support turtle habitat. Turtles may use these structures to nest and forage, or as protection from the weather and predators. Right: Corps volunteer Julie Biondolillo and her daughter, Mara Biondolillo, of Pennellville, N.Y., plant wetland habitat. After the event, water was added to the wetlands to create optimal habitat conditions.
The Corps seeks to inspire future stewards of Onondaga Lake and its watershed through a hands-on, experience-based program that offers citizens and organizations the opportunity to participate in activities that help restore and sustain Onondaga Lake and its value as an Important Bird Area.
Left: Conservation Corps members track native birds on a birding walk along the Onondaga Lake West Shore Trail Extension. In total, 41 bird species were identified. Left: Pictured left to right, Audubon volunteer Frank Moses assists Corps members Nicole Stephenson, of Phoenix, N.Y., Karol Wright, of Baldwinsville, N.Y., and Shannon Fitch, of Liverpool, N.Y., in identifying bird species. Right: Mary-Margaret Wright, of Baldwinsville, N.Y., uses binoculars to observe and identify bird species.
“Corps members learned from wetland and wildlife biologists about methods to create and restore the types of habitats that we hope will attract a wide variety of amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, and bird species to the lakeshore,” said Steve Mooney, managing scientist at O’Brien & Gere, pictured above at left. “This was a great opportunity to assist the designers and constructors of these habitats, and learn hands-on how we’re improving the quality of the Onondaga Lake shoreline.” Right: Water is pumped into the wetlands, beginning the transition to support habitat and plants.
Community volunteers at July 19, 2014 Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps Event. Founding members of the Corps include Montezuma Audubon Center, Onondaga Audubon Society, O’Brien & Gere, Parsons, and Honeywell.
To learn more about the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps or to participate in future activities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 315-365-3588. For more information on the Onondaga Lake cleanup, please visit www.lakecleanup.com.
For more photographs of the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps, click here.