New York Governor: Dredging Initiative at Oak Orchard Harbor

Governor Hochul Announces $15 Million REDI Regional Dredging Initiative Continues to Build Resiliency in Communities Along Lake Ontario

New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul announced dredging is underway , a navigation channel in Orleans County, used by boaters to access Lake Ontario.  The accumulation of silt, sand, and other debris can cause areas like Oak Orchard Harbor to become obstructed overtime.  The dredging project will remove built-up sediment from the bottom of the waterway to allow for continued safe passage of watercraft to support the tourism economy and preserve wildlife in the region.  Dredging of the navigation channel is part of a $15 million Regional Dredging Initiative through the State’s Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative.

“Communities along Lake Ontario have been forced to grapple with the impacts of extreme weather and flooding for the past several years and New York is doing everything within its power to bolster the shoreline and ensure we do not see a repeat of 2019,” Governor Hochul said.  “By undertaking these types of dredging and resiliency efforts, we are not only keeping people safe and easing the minds of lakefront homeowners, but also protecting the wildlife in the coastal habitats and helping boost tourism by creating safe recreational access for boaters.”

The Oak Orchard Harbor project will remove approximately 8,400 cubic yards of sediment using mechanical dredging. Mechanical dredging uses heavy equipment, such as an excavator, to dig out the bed of the body of water and then remove the excess built up sediment.  The dredging fleet for the Oak Orchard project includes a barge, excavator and two dump scows, as well one tugboat and one work boat to support the overall operation.  Removed sediment will be placed in a designated nearshore area to the east of the harbor.

Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, “With Governor Hochul’ s continued strong support and leadership, we at OGS are moving full steam ahead with the significant work that is getting accomplished under the REDI Regional Dredging Initiative.  Working together with State, federal, local, and private sector partners, our efforts are benefitting recreational boaters, supporting local economies, and improving the habitats of wildlife along the great Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and REDI Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, “The start of dredging work in Oak Orchard Harbor today marks a critical milestone in New York State’s sustained investments and infrastructure improvements in Orleans County that are strengthening protections along Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline communities and helping New York communities rebuild stronger, smarter, and more resilient. Governor Hochul’s REDI team of experts continue to advance dredging projects that enhance harbor navigation throughout the region.”

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “These dredging projects will be a great navigational benefit to the regional boating community, which is a vital part of the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River tourism and recreational economy.  One of these projects this season allowed for the reopening of the boat launch at Golden Hill State Park in Niagara County, which had been closed due to sediment accumulation.  These investments will result in benefits that will continue for years to come.”

Governor Hochul also announced that there are two additional dredging projects underway in Wayne County.  The Pultneyville Harbor project will remove approximately 4,000 cubic yards of sediment from the federal navigation channel using mechanical dredging.  The dredging fleet includes a barge, an excavator on the barge, two dump scows and a tugboat.  The sediment will be placed within a federal open lake placement area two miles north east of Sodus Bay.  The Bear Creek Harbor project will remove approximately 600 cubic yards of sediment from the waterway.  Dredging at this location will be undertaken in tandem with and using the same equipment as the PultneyvilleHarbor site.  Sediment dredged from the harbor will be placed in a defined area of the lake to the east of the harbor.

Senator Robert Ortt said, “I applaud New York State and the Lake Ontario REDI Commission for identifying and proactively addressing the issue of harbor dredging in the towns and ports along Lake Ontario’s southern shore.  For many of these towns, their ports are the reason the town is able to survive from a tourism and economic perspective, and the ability to access these ports is vital to their existence.”

Senator Pamela Helming said, “New York State has made critical investments to strengthen the local infrastructure that is essential to the economic stability and growth of our shoreline communities.  These projects represent an important partnership between our counties and towns, the state, and the REDI Commission.  I thank everyone involved for their continued hard work and commitment.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley said, “The Oak Orchard Harbor REDI dredging project getting underway is great news for the residents of Carlton and the Lake Ontario community in general.  It will assure that the harbor will continue to allow vessels to pass safely through it, and keep our regional economy growing.”

Orleans County Legislature Chairman Lynn Johnson said, “As we look for ways to support and promote recreational activities along the shorelines of Lake Ontario, the dredging of Oak Orchard Harbor is vital to providing access to the over 400 boat slips and 6 launch lanes within the harbor.  This project undertaken by the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative demonstrates the commitment by the Governor to maintaining access to the navigable waterways that contribute to the success of the local fishing, boating and tourism activities within the Town of Carlton and Orleans County.”

Town of Ontario Supervisor Frank Robusto said, “The REDI Program continues to assist municipalities along the Lake Ontario Shoreline in preparedness for future flooding events.  The dredging at Bear Creek will ensure that the harbor remains open and safe for both visitors and those who call the town of Ontario home.  We are thankful for the continued partnership with the State.”

To date, the State has completed nine REDI dredging projects, and removed approximately 41,750 cubic yards of sediment, to provide recreational boaters with safe access to Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.  The completed dredging projects include Port Bay, Blind Sodus Bay and East Bay in Wayne County, Sandy Pond Inlet and Salmon River/Port Ontario in Oswego County, Irondequoit Bay and Braddock Bay in Monroe County, Little Sodus Bay in Cayuga County, and Golden Hill State Park in Niagara County.

Through Phase I and II, the dredging initiative is tackling the necessary dredging of up to 20 harbor navigation channels. Upon completion of the project, over 100,000 cubic yards of sediment is anticipated to be dredged.

Future regional dredging initiative sites include:

  • Niagara County: Olcott Harbor
  • Orleans County: Johnson Creek
  • Monroe County: Sandy Creek, Long Pond Outlet
  • Jefferson County: Clayton French Creek Marina, Henderson “The Cut”
  • St. Lawrence County: Ogdensburg “City Front Channel,” Morristown Navigation Channel

During Phase III, the State will provide counties with the information they need to update, expand, and implement an existing Regional Dredging Management Plan to keep the channels operational over time.

In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, REDI was created to increase the resilience of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region.  Five REDI Regional Planning Committees, comprised of representatives from eight counties, Niagara and Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego, and Jefferson and St. Lawrence, were established to identify local priorities, at-risk infrastructure and other assets, and public safety concerns.

The REDI Commission allocated $20 million for homeowner assistance, $30 million to improve the resiliency of businesses, and $15 million toward a regional dredging effort that will benefit each of the eight counties in the REDI regions.  The remaining $235 million has been allocated towards local and regional projects that advance and exemplify the REDI mission.