Greece, NY (WROC) – A $10 million project to fix a century’s worth of damage in Braddock Bay was completed in 2018 and high waters this year are putting the project to the test.
The damage was toward an embankment that was able to protect the bay from high waves and erosion. Army Corps of Engineers Ecologist out of the Buffalo Office Josh Unghire says that embankment was destroyed because development had halted natural sediment to continue to build up on the edge of the bay. “We would’ve seen just regular wave energy on these windy days,” said Unghire, “Just basically lopping off and eroding away big pieces of wetland.”
To fix the problem and prevent damage in the future, a man-made wall made of stone and sand was built that took three years. The flooding in 2019 has put the wall to the test. Luckily it has been able to prevent from significant wave action across the Bay. “We’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of wetland habitat,” said Unghire. “About 40 more species we’re seeing now in the wetlands than we didn’t see a few years ago now that we’ve done the work.”
Healthier wetlands, more tourism, and more bird watchers like Mike Tetlow. “Braddock Bay is the concentration for raptors and migration in the spring,” said Tetlow. Endangered birds have recently been spotted along the embankment and more wildlife have been able to take advantage of the new design. “That break wall just adds an element of shorebirds and seabirds and things like that that we didn’t get before.”
Fish are also being seen in higher numbers because of the design as well as higher waters allowing for more spawning.