Habitat Restoration Improves

Water Quality, Recreation

Controlling invasive cattail and restoring fish habitat improve water quality and recreational opportunities in a Lake Ontario bay.

Description

Braddock Bay, found along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, consists of five ponds with connected streams, wetlands, and uplands. The unique wetlands found within the 2,576 acres of Braddock Bay offer a variety of critical wildlife habitats. But over the years, water levels of the Bay and Lake Ontario have been heavily managed. Preventing the natural fluctuations of water levels has inadvertently allowed invasive plants to thrive. In the bay’s 200-acre Buck Pond, marsh and shrubs became overrun by an invasive species of cattail that pushed out native species, making the area unsuitable for fish. Species such as the state endangered pugnose minnow, darters, bullheads, longnose gar, bowfin and northern pike depend on the marshes for reproduction.

Thanks to a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant and work by Ducks Unlimited, native wetlands have been restored. The restoration of the coastal marsh is vital for nearby towns, such as Oswego, and for clean drinking water, wildlife habit and public recreation. Braddock Bay currently is a part of the Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area, used for hiking, hunting, fishing and wildlife watching. The restoration of another marsh at Buck Pond will further increase these recreational opportunities and create additional wildlife habitat. The restoration project also helps accomplish the clean-up and restoration of the Rochester Embayment—an area designated as one of the most polluted areas in the region by the Environmental Protection Agency. The bay is part of the so-called Area of Concern, one of dozens of toxic hot-spots around the region that suffers from legacy industrial contamination and degradation.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Invasive species
  • Poor water quality
  • Lack of wildlife habitat
  • Low native plant establishment

 

BRADDOCK BAY RESTORATION

View of workers tending to a wetland area

Wetland restoration has created habitat for many fish, especially early in their reproductive cycle. Many communities will benefit from the marsh as well, since it filters polluted runoff before the water reached Lake Ontario. Credit: State University of New York College at Brookport.

Results and Accomplishments

The project restored or conserved 416 acres of wetlands and habitat. It restored water flow through the cattail mat providing long-term benefits for the fish and wildlife as well as increasing diversity by improving areas for native plant species. The establishment of native plants also encourages the improvement of water quality in the marsh as well as the bay region.