A Restoration Success Story: Restoration of a Former Industrial Site Along the Onondaga Lake Shoreline

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Dan Rockefeller, Anthony Eallonardo, Ph.D., Bradley Kubiak, Christopher Calkin, Steve Mooney

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Located at the western nexus of the City of Syracuse along the shoreline of Onondaga Lake, the Solvay Settling Basins 1-8 Site is a 400-acre former industrial property, and a subsite of the Onondaga Lake Superfund Site, home to one of the largest and most complex sustainable remediation programs in the country. Over the last 5 years, over $100M of investment has been dedicated to the design and implementation of numerous integrated remedial measures, recreational redevelopment projects, and ecological restoration efforts that have combined to reset the ecological trajectory of the Site and restore essential ecological functions through the establishment of robust and varied habitats. To date, nearly 200 acres of the Site have been restored with wet meadow, shallow and deep emergent marsh, successional old-field, and successional forest community types, creating room for biodiversity to thrive. Since the monitoring program began in 2015, over 70 species of wildlife have returned to the Site including small mammals and multiple herptile species which serve as bioindicators of restoration success. The Site also supports large herbivorous mammals such as the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and their predatory counterpart, the eastern coyote (Canis latrans), illustrating the presence of a robust and diverse forage base, and high-quality habitat. Naturebased recreation has also rebounded as the surrounding human population seeks opportunities for active and passive recreational experiences tied to the local, restored ecology. Here, we present a remarkable turnaround from a heavily impacted industrial site to an ecological restoration success story

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program