SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Ryan Dunn was not expecting to become an advocate for bald eagles when he started homeschooling back in August. But when he discovered the eagles flying over Onondaga Lake, near Destiny USA, he got inspired to protect them.
Dunn became the social media manager for a local environmental organization in Syracuse that is spearheading the conversation about the local eagle habitat. After hearing about the Onondaga County’s new proposal for a trail in Murphy’s Island, the small parcel of land closest to Destiny USA, Dunn jumped into action and created a list of online posts for the Friends of the Onondaga Lake Bald Eagles organization.
That organization and other environmentalists have raised enough concerns about the county’s plan to complete the trail loop all around Onondaga Lake that the state Department of Environmental Conservation will hold an open forum Wednesday to hear residents’ concerns.
The county’s plans include preserving the trees there and closing the trail from December to March when the bald eagles roost there.
Diana Green, a facilitator for the Friends of The Onondaga Lake Bald Eagles organization, said the project also comes at a high cost.
“They’re planning on cutting down trees to clear the path and that will infringe on the eagle roost,” Green started, “And will cost nearly $1,000-a-foot with taxpayer funds.”
County officials say the cost has only risen due to the more efficient and environmentally-friendly plans for the trail.
Dunn is not sure if the goals of the county are viable, but said he is simply trying to offer a different perspective on the route, he said.
“When I heard of what was happening I thought, I have to get involved in this,” Dunn said. “The trail doesn’t have to go through the eagle’s habitat and risk possibly hurting this magnificent species that just got off the endangered list.”
And to spark the conversation among county residents , Dunn took to social media to advocated for the eagles, who’ve recently returned to the area.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation extended the comment period for the project and will hold a public hearing Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at the OnCenter to hear concerns.