Erosion on Lake Ontario sparks controversy between land owners Erosion on Lake Ontario sparks controversy between land owners

Erosion damage to a popular for bird-watching spot damages neighboring property

Mexico, N.Y. (NCC News) – Derby Hill Bird Observatory is located on the southeastern corner of Lake Ontario, making it a popular spot for bird-watching.  But after several years of high water levels on Lake Ontario, the scenic overlook is facing severe erosion damage.

The Onondaga Audubon Society owns the overlook, and has been in no hurry to fix or prevent future damage. Alison Kocek, president of Onondaga Audubon, hopes it can find a solution that will not bring further harm to the environment. But they are unwilling to take any action that may damage the natural habitats for birds.

“While it would the cliff in some ways from falling apart, it would also reduce that habitat from being useful for any birds or wildlife or plants really,” Kocek said. “We are not against fixing our cliff face at some point in the future, we just want to continue to get more information.”

Some residents say that is not good enough as damage has been so severe, that it has seeped on to their properties. But the Onondaga Audubon Society believes we should all consider where we are purchasing land, because the environment is changing and in some cases homeowners may not be able to protect the land we inhabit.

“Sometimes re-thinking before you buy out on these lakes of what is going to happen over the next 20 years, is something we really all need to start doing,” Kocek said. “Because I don’t think we are going to be able to protect everywhere as much as we want to.”

Ed Hartwell, a Lake Ontario resident, said even though neighbors of the the popular bird watching bluff have protected their land with rock barriers, that simply will not be enough.

“When this hill wears away, it [erosion] will go behind it and then really they don’t have any protection anymore,” Hartwell said. “And they’ll start getting just as bad erosion as this.”

Hartwell also added that he believes any natural solution to prevent future erosion is out of the question at this point.

Until all parties can come to an agreement, neighbors of the overlook will continue to try and protect their land the best they can.



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