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Urgent Alert Regarding the NY State Canals
By Kimberly Russo
Posted on 3/1/2021 8:47 AM
A bill has been filed as part of a 30-day budget process in New York that will move responsibility for oversight of the New York State Canals to a Governor-appointed Board of Trustees. We believe this may be a first step in ending end-to-end navigation, which clearly presents a problem for ALL Loopers.

Urgent Call-To-Action:
Please contact the New York State Legislature and urge them to remove the Canal System Revitalization Act from the budget. The Act is Part VV in the Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (TED) Budget Bill. We believe this bill must be struck from this year’s budget bill so that all canal stakeholders can have a conversation about the proposal, and it can be discussed in legislative budget hearings. Instructions are at the end of the post on how to make your voice heard on this matter, as suggested by BoatUS.

Some background: In 2019, Governor Cuomo appointed a “Reimagining the New York State Canals” task force. While the task force did solicit input from power boaters, power boating concerns were noticeably absent from the recommendations the group produced and presented to the Governor. In fact, a few of the recommendations could have detrimental effects for the Great Loop. The report recommendations include the following:

Study closing off portions of the Erie Canal to prevent the migration of aquatic invasive species (AIS):

“…in cooperation with Department of Environmental Conservation, further study mechanisms for retrofitting canal infrastructure to establish AIS cordon points with potential locations in Rome, Rochester and Oswego. This study will:

-evaluate new technologies

-assess impacts on through-navigation and identify ways to mitigate them

-calculate avoided environmental costs-identify any alternative or additional locations…”

Consider lowering the water level to mitigate flooding, which could have a negative impact on navigation:

“… Some (task force) members welcomed the ability to adapt canal infrastructure to tackle flooding issues related to climate change and capture the ecosystem benefits that result from ‘naturalizing’ a river; others were opposed to interventions that could impact the ability of deep-draft vessels to navigate the Mohawk…Other Task Force members noted that any intervention that affects water levels in the Mohawk could impact businesses (such as marinas, restaurants, and shops), since deep-draft long-distance boaters spend more heavily than local boaters and would be forced to shift to the Champlain stem of the NYS Barge Canal system to access the Great Lakes from the Hudson...

“Members also asked that further work be done to consider compromise positions, such as reducing the depth of the Canal to maintain navigation and limiting full or partial draft navigation to a shorter navigation season…”

These recommendations further supported what stakeholders had suspected for years—that ensuring the canals remain viable for through-navigation is of little interest to Governor Cuomo and the New York Power Authority (which is currently responsible for the canal). Obviously, this would strike a devastating blow to the Loop. The bill filed last week under this shortened approval process could be the first step.

The bill includes legislative findings and statement of purposes that describe the New York canals as outdated and unneeded infrastructure that are doing harm to the environment including:

“The legislature hereby finds, determines and declares:

(a) that the New York state canal system, which once served as a vital thoroughfare for freight and other commerce, supports virtually no commercial shipping activity today;

(b) that much of the canal system's century-old infrastructure, designed to accommodate the passage of large commercial vessels, is antiquated and deteriorating;

(c) that despite the absence of commercial shipping traffic in almost all portions of the canal system, the state and its instrumentalities continue to expend substantial sums of money to maintain the canal system and its aged water control infrastructure for the system's original purpose;

(d) that flooding and ice jams within and around portions of the canal system have caused substantial damage to nearby communities and the canal system itself, and without appropriate intervention, such flooding and ice jams, exacerbated by the effects of climate change and other phenomena, will continue to pose a threat to property and people;
And several more.

How to Make Your Voice Heard

BoatUS was not able to adjust their advocacy commenting system so that those who do not live in New York can use it effectively so we've come up with an alternate plan. This Boat US Press Release does a great job of explaining the issue.

There is a very short window to make contact with New York legislators about this bill. This bill is expected to move forward early next week.

If you live in New York State
, please use this page from BoatUS to comment, and encourage others you know to do so as well.

If you do not live in New York State, it will take more effort for you to comment, but I hope you will take the time to do so. A list of the members of the New York Assembly and their email addresses follows. Our "ask" is that they remove the Canal System Revitalization Act from the budget. The Act is Part VV in the Transportation, Economic Development and Environmental Conservation (TED) Budget Bill. We believe this bill must be struck from this year’s budget bill so that all canal stakeholders can have a conversation about the proposal, and it can be discussed in legislative budget hearings. Here is the default text in the BoatUS system with some modifications to suit those not residents of the State of New York. Please modify this to fit your own thoughts about this bill:

I am very concerned with a last minute proposal by the Governor that will fundamentally change how New York's canals are managed. I urge you to set aside the 30-day budget amendment in TED Bill Part VV, also known as the "New York state canal system revitalization act." Although I am not a resident of the State of New York, the impact of changes to the canals are far reaching, and affect more than just New Yorkers.

Some important points to consider:

- The Erie Canal provides a vital connection between multiple communities along its route.

- The canal is used by thousands of boaters from both New York and out of state, bringing tourism activities to many rural areas.

- There is already an established body charged with improving the canal system for recreation. Why does it need to be replaced with a new bureaucracy?

- This last minute proposal should be rejected and an open, transparent dialogue with all canal stakeholders should be undertaken.

Thank you for your consideration of my views and acting to protect the Erie Canal for everyone.

Here is a list of members of the New York State Assembly. Please email as many as you can.

Peter J. Abbate, Jr. <>

Thomas J. Abinanti <>

Khaleel M. Anderson <>

Joe Angelino <>

Jake Ashby <>

Jeffrion L. Aubry <>

William A. Barclay <>

Brian Barnwell <>

Didi Barrett <>

Charles Barron <>

Michael Benedetto <>

Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn <>

Ken Blankenbush <>

Karl Brabenec <>

Edward C. Braunstein <>

Harry B. Bronson <>

Keith P. Brown <>

Chris Burdick <>

Kenny Burgos <>

Pat Burke <>

Marianne Buttenschon <>

Kevin M. Byrne <>

Marjorie Byrnes <>

Kevin A. Cahill <>

Robert C. Carroll <>

Sarah Clark <>

William Colton <>

William Conrad <>

Vivian E. Cook <>

Catalina Cruz <>

Michael Cusick <>

Steven Cymbrowitz <>

Taylor Darling <>

Maritza Davila <>

Carmen N. De La Rosa <>

Joe DeStefano <>

Inez E. Dickens <>

Erik M. Dilan <>

Jeffrey Dinowitz <>

David DiPietro <>

Michael Durso <>

Simcha Eichenstein <>

Steve Englebright <>

Harvey Epstein <>

Patricia Fahy <>

Charles D. Fall <>

Nathalia Fernandez <>

Michael J. Fitzpatrick <>

Phara Souffrant Forrest <>

Christopher S. Friend <>

Mathylde Frontus <>

Sandy Galef <>

Emily Gallagher <>

Jeff Gallahan <>

Jarett Gandolfo <>

Jodi Giglio <>

Joseph M. Giglio <>

Deborah J. Glick <>

Jessica González-Rojas <>

Andy Goodell <>

Richard N. Gottfried <>

Judy Griffin <>

Aileen M. Gunther <>

Stephen Hawley <>

Carl E. Heastie <>

Andrew Hevesi <>

Pamela J. Hunter <>

Alicia Hyndman <>

Chantel Jackson <>

Jonathan G. Jacobson <>

Kimberly Jean-Pierre <>

Josh Jensen <>

Billy Jones <>

Latoya Joyner <>

Dr. Anna R. Kelles <>

Ron Kim <>

Kieran Michael Lalor <>

Charles D. Lavine <>

Mike Lawler <>

John Lemondes <>

Jennifer Lunsford <>

Donna A. Lupardo <>

William B. Magnarelli <>

Zohran Mamdani <>

Brian Manktelow <>

John T. McDonald III <>

David G. McDonough <>

Karen McMahon <>

Demond Meeks <>

John K. Mikulin <>

Brian D. Miller <>

Melissa Miller <>

Marcela Mitaynes <>

Michael Montesano <>

Angelo J. Morinello <>

Yuh-Line Niou <>

Catherine Nolan <>

Michael J. Norris <>

Daniel J. O'Donnell <>

Steven Otis <>

Philip A. Palmesano <>

Amy Paulin <>

Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes <>

N. Nick Perry <>

Stacey Pheffer Amato <>

Victor M. Pichardo <>

J. Gary Pretlow <>

Dan Quart <>

Edward P. Ra <>

Jenifer Rajkumar <>

Phil Ramos <>

Michael Reilly <>

Karines Reyes <>

Diana C. Richardson <>

Jonathan Rivera <>

José Rivera <>

Robert J. RodriguezR <>

Daniel Rosenthal <>

Linda B. Rosenthal <>

Nily Rozic <>

John Salka <>

Angelo Santabarbara <>

Nader J. Sayegh <>

Colin Schmitt <>

Rebecca A. Seawright <>

Amanda Septimo <>

Gina Sillitti <>

Jo Anne Simon <>

Matthew Simpson <>

Doug Smith <>

Robert Smullen <>

Michaelle C. Solages <>

Phil Steck <>

Steve Stern <>

Al Stirpe <>

Chris Tague <>

Michael Tannousis <>

Al Taylor <>

Fred W. Thiele, Jr. <>

Clyde Vanel <>

Mark Walczyk <>

Latrice Walker <>

Monica P. Wallace <>

Mary Beth Walsh <>

Helene E. Weinstein <>

David I. Weprin <>

Jaime R. Williams <>

Carrie Woerner <>

Kenneth Zebrowski <>

Stefani Zinerman <>

Reaching the members of the New York State Senate is more challenging as their email addresses are not published and the form that allows you to contact each Senator requires an account and login, and a separate message to each. My best suggestion is to use the form found here to submit a general message to the Senate.

We hoped for an easier way to make contact with the legislators in New York, but this is the best way have at this point in time. Thank you in advance for taking the time to participate in the process. We can make a difference if enough of us make the effort.

Update: here is another format of the email list that some have found easier to use to copy and paste into an email:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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