Audubon New York Executive Director Teaches Volunteers About Importance of Creating and Sustaining Habitat for Important Bird Areas such as Onondaga Lake
The Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps returned to the Geddes Brook wetlands on Saturday, October 25, to see firsthand how their habitat restoration efforts have contributed to creating a home for more than 65 fish and wildlife species. Sixty-eight volunteers from Central New York participated in the ninth and largest Corps event to date.
Volunteers planted shrubs and trees, learned from habitat experts, and participated in citizen science monitoring by tracking native birds along Geddes Brook. Geddes Brook is an important part of a new green corridor connecting Onondaga Lake to upland areas.
R.J. Herrick (left) and Brad Phelps, both of Tully, track birds. In total, 28 bird species were identified during the event. Right: Habitat expert Joe McMullen helps Sue Boettger, of Fayetteville, plant a sandbar willow tree.
To watch a video from the event, click here.
“The Geddes Brook of today is a terrific example of the impact that grassroots efforts and citizen science have on restoring wildlife habitat,” said Erin Crotty, executive director of Audubon New York, pictured above using a scope to identify species. “The Conservation Corps has transformed this portion of the Onondaga Lake Important Bird Area into a diverse wetland that provides vital nesting, shelter, and food to several Audubon conservation species, including the belted kingfisher, greater yellowlegs, and pied-billed grebe.”
During the event, volunteers planted 510 plants, including 150 trees. Left: Theresa Evans, of Syracuse, plants cardinal flower. Right: Left to right, Patrick Higgins, Hailey Higgins, and Margaret DeCarlo, all of Clay, plant a speckled alder.
“This is the first time that we attended an Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps event,” said Sara Pieklik, of Liverpool, pictured above with Chris Lajewski, director of Montezuma Audubon Center. “I really enjoyed that experts were available, teaching us about wildlife habitat. They were just as excited about the cleanup as we are. The event made us feel like we were a part of the cleanup, like we are a part of history.”
The Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps is an expanding organization of community volunteers who are contributing to restoration projects that are creating or improving wildlife habitat in the Onondaga Lake watershed. Since its formation, nearly 500 community members have joined the Corps, planting more than 4,500 native plants, trees, and shrubs.
Left: In 2012, the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps launched its first citizen scientist event as volunteers got their hands dirty planting native species at Geddes Brook. Aquatic species were planted in deep water wetlands to help improve water quality, stabilize the soil, and create habitat for birds, animals, and insects. Right: A blue heron and red-winged blackbird in the restored Geddes Brook wetlands.
Geddes Brook is now a flourishing habitat. What once was 17 acres dominated by invasive plants is now a diverse wetland with more than 175 plant and 65 fish and wildlife species. Left: Geddes Brook wetlands during construction in September 2012. Right: Restored Geddes Brook wetlands in August 2013.
Improvements made during the Onondaga Lake cleanup are enhancing habitat and supporting a diverse population of fish, birds, and mammals while increasing opportunities for outdoor recreation. To date, 37 acres of wetlands have been created or enhanced and about 312,000 native plants, trees, and shrubs are providing diverse habitat for more than 110 wildlife species, including mink, beaver, wild turkey, bald eagles, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and snapping turtles.
The Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps was established in 2012. Founding partners of the Corps include Montezuma Audubon Center, Onondaga Audubon Society, Parsons, O’Brien & Gere, and Honeywell. To learn more or to participate in future activities, please contact email@example.com 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.
For a complete list of the birds identified at the event, click here.