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Canoga Marsh is the delta of Canoga Creek and lies along the northwest shore of Cayuga Lake, the second largest Finger Lake in Central New York State. Cayuga Lake is part of the Oswego River basin, which drains north to Lake Ontario. The portion of the marsh owned by Canoga Creek Farm is in the USDA Wetlands Reserve Program. A significant portion of the remaining marsh not owned by Canoga Creek Farm is a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Wildlife Management Area. The balance of Canoga Marsh is privately owned.The Cayuga Lake Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan lists the Canoga Creek subwatershed as a priority for restoration and protection efforts. It is important because among the subwatersheds it has the largest percentage of land as wetlands, it is proximate to the large Montezuma Wetlands Complex and it has a unique system of springs at its headwaters. The Restoration Plan stresses the value of both wetlands education and on the ground efforts as strategies for watershed management.
I enjoy hunting and enjoy being in the marsh with my dog. After the move and settling in, I began to study what Ducks Unlimited was encouraging land owners to get involved in…I thought “we could do that… so we set out to begin.”
We came up with some goals—We want to restore lost wetland functions (primarily wildlife use) on adjacent lands; one private and one owned by NY State. Potholes and level ditches need to be constructed to create openings in a degraded, freshwater, non-tidal wetland for enhancement of habitat value for migrating and nesting waterfowl, marsh birds and muskrats. Plant diversity in the marsh shouldbe increased by reestablishing hydric conditions that will encourage the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation in the potholes and level ditches. Amphibians and macro-invertebrates will benefit from the construction of several fish-free potholes near shore. Waterfowl will find suitable brood rearing habitat. Visibility of wildlife can be improved for public enjoyment and educational opportunities. Better public access is needed on the public lands (Canoga Marsh WMA) and the project will serve as a demonstration area for wetland enhancement.
The wetland in the project area is a Class I, 134.4 acre, degraded, dense monocultural cattail marsh with limited open water throughout. At the Cayuga Lake open water- and marsh- interface there is a steep, 1- to 2- foot vertical drop at common lake levels, that restricts accessibility by wildlife. Purple loosestrife is present throughout the marsh, but not dominant. The upland fringe of wetland includes a small area of burr reed (purportedly an old pond, since filled in by eroded silts from adjacent agricultural fields), silky dogwood, green ash saplings, willows, and several distinct areas of mature green ash and cottonwood. Substrates within the cattail marsh are hydric organic soils, characterized in the Seneca County Soil Survey as: shallow, inundated areas around lakes and ponded areas, bottom-land and alluvial deposits, covered by water most of the year.The adjacent, upland area on the Tidball property is almost entirely in row crop production (soybeans in 2003, corn in 2004 and 2005). Two well-defined erosion gullies are present, flowing eastward to the wetland boundary. The drop off from upland to marsh is steep (1 to 1 slope) and ranges from 4 to 8 feet.
Contacted Ron Vanacore of NRCS- began exploration of a 30 year easement with USDA. In a 30 year easement, USDA will pay 75% of the costs of a restoration project. There is also a small onetime acreage payment. There is a lot of information about WRP on the internet. It is a Farm Bill project.This NRCS Wetland Reserve Program Project is to consist of potholes and connecting level ditches within the wetland proper, limitedclearing of shrub/sapling vegetation at upper margin of wetland and small portion of the 100-foot adjacent area, and nesting cover establishment (native grasses) in and upland of the adjacent area on the Tidball property. Grasslands are to be maintained by periodic mowing, on 3-year cycle. Grass waterways, which will be mowed annually, are to be established to stabilize the erosion gullies. No changes will be made to the adjacent area on the Canoga Marsh WMA.
I then worked with the USFWS Partners program, who loved the project, and offered to cover the remaining 25% of the project. The partners program has many partnerships with common wildlife and fish species and habitat conservation groups, including Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and so –on.
Cayuga Lake Watershed Network reports
Citizen involvement in wetland restoration
Citizen Involvement in Wetland Restoration: The Canoga Marsh Example<br />Keith G. Tidball<br />Canoga Creek Farm & Conservancy<br />&<br />Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab<br />April 2010<br />Cayuga Lake Watershed Network Spring Seminar<br />Kuneytown Sportsmen’s Club<br /> Fayette, NY<br />
Starting conditions<br />"Greater familiarity with marshes on the part of more people could give man a truer and more wholesome view of himself in relation to Nature. In marshes, Life's undercurrents and unknowns and evolutionary changes are exemplified with a high degree of independence from human dominance as long as the marshes remain in marshy condition. Marshes comprise their own form of wilderness. They have their own life-rich genuineness and reflect forces that are much older, much more permanent, and much mightier than man.”<br /> Paul L. Errington1<br />1. OF MEN AND MARSHES, Paul L. Errington. The Iowa State University Press, Ames; 1957; 150 p.<br />
visibility of wildlife for public enjoyment and education
demonstration area for wetland enhancement</li></li></ul><li>Starting Conditions<br />Assessment by DEC wildlife biologists<br />Class I wetland, 134.4 acre, degraded, dense mono-cultural cattail marsh <br />Steep vertical drop at common lake levels restricts wildlife<br />Purple loosestrife present throughout, not dominant. <br />Upland fringe includes burr reed, silky dogwood, green ash saplings, & willows<br />Distinct areas of mature green ash and cottonwood<br />Substrates are hydric organic soils<br />characterized in the Seneca County Soil Survey as: shallow, inundated areas around lakes and ponded areas, bottom-land and alluvial deposits, covered by water most of the year.<br />Adjacent, upland area in row crop production (soybeans in 2003, corn in 2004 and 2005)<br />Two well-defined erosion gullies are present, flowing eastward to the wetland boundary. <br /> The drop off from upland to marsh is steep (1 to 1 slope) and ranges from 4 to 8 feet.<br />
Starting Conditions<br />DEC Wildlife Biologists surveyed the area and made recommendations<br />We had the property surveyed<br /> to outline easement area<br />A Plan finalized<br />
Breaking Ground<br />Ducks Unlimited, through the US Fish and Wildlife Service, contributed 25% of the total cost of restoration of the Tidball/Canoga Marsh project, more than $10,000 for the ducks and their habitat!<br />Photo courtesy of Elon Weinstein<br />
"The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering." — Aldo Leopold (Round River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold)<br />