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Projects and Initiatives


The Inspection and Protection Division continues to work with partners including Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)OLWA, Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District, Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District, watershed municipalities, and others.

Tributary Adoption and Identification Pilot Project (TAIPP)

The Tributary Adoption and Identification Pilot Program, or “TAIPP,” is a tributary identification initiative funded by New York Sea Grant.  This project saw the development of signage, posted at stream-road crossings in Owasco, Fleming, and Niles, which provides identifying information at each crossing. 


This pilot project provides a starting point to engage the public in tributary protection and education.  Eventually, this initiative will expand, and similar tributary signage will be placed throughout the entire watershed.


The signage includes the name of the subwatershed or tributary flowing beneath a specific road crossing, as well as “quick response” (QR) codes that will link smartphone users to a database with specific biological, physical, and geographical information about each tributary.  Simply point your phone camera at the QR code and click the link that pops up.  Emergency contact information is included for the public to report noticeable water quality issues at the location. 

Road Ditch
Watershed Road Ditch Stabilization


The latest round of the New York State Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) and the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program has funded a project focused on stabilization of road ditches throughout the Owasco Lake Watershed.  


The goals of this project are to stabilize nearly 100 miles of road ditches over the next 5 years, purchase supplies and materials for implementation, and substantially reduce the amount of sediment flowing through the ditch networks into tributaries and Owasco Lake.


Since 2014, the Inspection and Protection Division has identified approximately 10 linear miles of unstable, highly erodable ditch lengths throughout the watershed (see links below). Cummulatively, small areas of erosion left untreated contribute large amounts of sediments and nutrients to Owasco Lake.


2014 Road Ditch Assessment (PDF)

2015 Road Ditch Assessment (PDF)

2017 Road Ditch Assessment (PDF)

Owasco Shrub Willow Nursery

Off Melrose Road in the Town of Owasco is the former site of a town water tower.  Since the tower's removal, this plot has gone unused. 


Former attempts were made by staff of the OLWIPD to establish a nursery for a native tree replacement program, supported by the NYSDEC's "Buffer in a Bag" program.  Tree seedlings of various species were planted, including Sand Cherry, Winterberry, Northern White Cedar, Red Oak, and Silky Dogwood. These native varieties of bare-root trees and shrubs were to be used for riparian/shoreline buffer plantings throughout the watershed.   However, for various reasons, the plantings were not maintained, and the seedlings were left to their own devices.

In the early spring of 2022, the OLWIPD reached out to Ann Moore and Tim Volk at SUNY ESF.  Tim Volk's research involves propagating shrub willows for various purposes, but especially for use as biofuel.  He generously donated 462 shrub willow cane from his supply to the Council; 176 Salix purpurea, and 286 Salix iriocephala were planted at the former water tower site.  Once details were hashed out, staff and volunteers set out on a Saturday morning to plant the willow cane in manageable rows.  They will need to be cut back once a year for a few years so they are able to fill out and flourish.  Once they are an appropriate size, they will be replanted in strategic areas within the watershed to assist with streambank stabilization efforts.  Efforts will be made to work with landowners and watershed partners to achieve this goal.


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