We have only until Friday, June 2 to send a loud emphatic message to government officials that the people have not been heard on a proposed Onondaga Lake restoration plan issued April 24 by state and federal governments.
Damages to Onondaga Creek in the city of Syracuse, specifically on Syracuse’s neglected South and Southwest Sides, have been overlooked and residents have not been adequately considered. The 73-page highly technical Onondaga Lake Natural Resource Damage Assessment Restoration Plan was compiled over ten years, yet the public was given just over a month to submit comments before the June 2 deadline, and only one public meeting outside of regular business hours.
What can you do?
Email Anne Secord, U.S. Fish and Wildlife:firstname.lastname@example.org and Ken Lynch, NY Department of Environmental Conservation: email@example.com and make sure you BCC firstname.lastname@example.org so we know how many emails are sent. We have included a template below, or you can write in your own words requesting:
- A longer public comment period, at least 90 additional days, for the proposed Onondaga lake restoration projects.
- Genuine public hearings.
Can we get 100 messages in by the end of this week? And 300 more next week? Let’s do it! If you have questions, email Maureen.
Dear Ms. Secord, / Dear Mr. Lynch,
I am writing to ask that the Trustees for Onondaga Lake extend the public comment period for the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for at least another 90 days. I also ask that the Trustees provide an opportunity for people to give verbal comment, not just written comments, and host meetings in the evenings in order to be accessible to working people, with adequate public notice, in order to reach more diverse populations. The public is very interested in the restoration of Onondaga Lake and should be granted the right to make verbal comments on the record, not simply ask questions after a public presentation.
Further, please provide more information on the projects accepted or rejected. The proposed projects overwhelmingly favor projects proposed by the trustees themselves, rather than publicly submitted projects. The form for submitting proposed projects had limited space and many groups expected the Trustees to contact them for more details. Dismissing those projects as not having enough information is ridiculous and those groups should be given time to submit detailed plans, and for the public to review those plans.
Finally, the lack of any projects along lower Onondaga Creek is deeply troubling. Residents want a creek that is an amenity, not a nuisance. Many point to the Meadowbrook retention basin as an example of what they would like Onondaga Creek to be more like. I ask that the Trustees ensure that significant funding is earmarked for Onondaga Creek projects, developed in consultation with the affected communities.
[Your Name Here]
Background Story, in a Nutshell
For over 100 years, Honeywell International Inc. (né Allied Chemical, né Solvay Process Company) aggressively mined the Tully Valley for salt brine, which they combined with limestone from Jamesville Quarry to create soda ash. Byproduct was dumped into enormous waste beds that contributed to the infamous pollution of Onondaga Lake. With all the attention on the lake, the destruction of Onondaga Creek took a back seat.
A few years into the brine mining, the first “mudboils” appeared, south of Syracuse on the Onondaga Nation. The mudboils dump up to 30 tons of sediment (a.k.a. mud) per day into Onondaga Creek. All that sediment clogs up the creek, diminishing its suitability for recreation and enjoyment, and increasing the flood risk.
Updated FEMA flood maps recently added hundreds of properties on Syracuse’s South Side to the Onondaga Creek flood zone. This translates to homeowners living in the highest concentration of poverty among Black and Hispanic People in the United States to purchase flood insurance they cannot afford. The mudboils have robbed the Haudenosaunee People of their sacred creek, and its fish and wildlife. A dam imposed on them in the 1950’s to help control the creek flooded Onondaga land and homes.
Visit our Onondaga Creek Flood Zone Information Page for detailed background information.