Lieutenant Governor Hochul and DEC Celebrate Groundbreaking for Kenneth P. Lynch Boat Launch at Onondaga Lake

Facility to Include Trailered Launch for Motorized Boats, Cartop Launch for Canoes and Kayaks, and Accessible Fishing Deck

Amenities to be Integrated with Visitor Center and Loop-the-Lake Recreational Trail, Allow Public to Reconnect with Onondaga Lake

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today the groundbreaking of the Kenneth P. Lynch Boat Launch at Onondaga Lake in the town of Geddes, Onondaga County. Lynch served as Regional Director of DEC’s Region 7 for nearly two decades, and most recently as Executive Deputy Commissioner until his retirement in March 2019.

“The restoration of Onondaga Lake has been a remarkable success story thanks to the hard work of dedicated professionals like Kenneth Lynch, who we proudly honor today,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul who made today’s announcement. “We value our incredible natural resources across New York State, and that is why we have prioritized investing in environmental remediation and expanded outdoor recreational opportunities. The new boat launch at Onondaga Lake will improve the experience for boaters and anglers, continue the momentum of progress, and boost tourism efforts in Central New York.”

DEC Commissioner Seggos stated, “I am pleased to announce this project is now underway after a landmark agreement with Honeywell and Onondaga County to compensate the public for natural resource injuries and I am especially proud to announce that this new boat launch is being named for Syracuse native and former DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner Ken Lynch.”

Details of the Boat Launch

The Kenneth P. Lynch Boat Launch at Onondaga Lake will offer launching capabilities for trailered motorboats and car-top boats, such as canoes and kayaks. To provide recreational opportunities for persons of all abilities, both launches and a separate fishing deck will incorporate accessible features for persons with mobility impairments. Other site amenities will include car and trailer parking, a picnic area with restrooms, invasive species disposal and boat wash station to help boaters control the spread of aquatic invasive species. Additionally, Onondaga County’s Loop-the-Lake Trail will pass through the site, enhancing pedestrian access from all parts of the lake.

The boat launch facility is being funded and constructed by Honeywell through an Environmental Benefit Project (EBP) as part of an Onondaga Lake cleanup Consent Order. EPBs are agreed to as part of the settlement of an enforcement matter and are designed to benefit the local community and environment. Construction will occur during 2019. Upon completion, the site will be turned over to DEC and is anticipated to be available for free public use in fall 2019.

Who is Kenneth P. Lynch?

The new facility is named for retired DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner and former Region 7 Director, Kenneth P. Lynch. For 23 years, Lynch worked at DEC to help advance several unparalleled environmental and conservation successes, including the cleanup and revitalization of Onondaga Lake. Lynch first joined DEC as the Region 7 Regional Attorney in 1995. In 1997, he was appointed Regional Director of Region 7. Lynch was instrumental in the implementation of the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air Environmental Bond Act. In the region he advanced many critical open space protection and infrastructure improvement projects.

Lynch was DEC’s point person for advancing the cleanup of Onondaga Lake. He successfully negotiated the legal agreement with Honeywell to implement remediation of hazardous waste in the lake and also the legal agreements with Onondaga County to mitigate wastewater and stormwater impacts to the lake, including enabling the innovative green infrastructure program. Lynch was also instrumental in achieving settlement of the Natural Resource Damages Assessment and Restoration for Onondaga Lake. After promotion to Executive Deputy Commissioner in 2016, Lynch continued to have a profound impact on the environment in Central New York and all of New York State until his retirement in April 2019.

Success of Onondaga Lake Cleanup and Revitalization

Lakeview Amphitheater

Onondaga Lake is the cleanest it has been in more than 100 years. Under the strict oversight of DEC, Honeywell completed dredging, capping and habitat improvements and is now in the long-term monitoring and maintenance phase. Wastewater and stormwater improvements are also contributing to a cleaner lake and watershed. Under the direction of DEC, Onondaga County has vastly improved water quality through facility upgrades and reduced stormwater impacts with their award-winning Save the Rain program that continues to serve as a national model.

With these significant efforts, Onondaga Lake habitat is vastly improved, native fish and wildlife are returning, the ecosystem is flourishing, and the lake is now supporting a range of recreational uses. The cleanup of Onondaga Lake is creating opportunities for the public to reconnect with this resource. In addition to the Loop-the-Lake Trail, Lakeview Amphitheater, Onondaga Creekwalk and Inner Harbor development, plans are in place to continue expanding public access and user engagement with the lake. Projects include:

  • Extending the Erie Canalway Trail from Camillus to the Loop the Lake Trail (3.2 miles) and from the Honeywell Visitor Center to Harbor Brook (1.2 miles). This extension aids in the completion of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail plan, filling in one of the remain gaps in the existing Erie Canalway recreation trail;
  • Improving preservation efforts, bolstering habitat restoration, and increasing public access to more than 1,400 acres along Ninemile and Onondaga creeks in the Onondaga Lake watershed, including public fishing rights and parking areas;
  • Installing structures within over 275 acres of Onondaga Lake to provide habitat for fish, amphibians, and invertebrates;
  • Identifying and removing invasive species within approximately 1,700 acres of wetlands, lake/river littoral zone, and riparian habitat;
  • Restoring wetland and fish habitat within and adjacent to Onondaga County parklands;
  • Restoring 100 acres of warm season grassland;
  • Constructing a new deep-water fishing pier on Onondaga Lake;
  • Enhancing jetties at the Onondaga Lake outlet to improve access;
  • Constructing new boat launch on the Seneca River; and
  • Transferring Honeywell’s Onondaga Lake Visitor Center to a public agency.

Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps ‘click’ on image to enlarge.

The community conversation is shifting toward Onondaga Lake as a public asset. Volunteer opportunities such as the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps allow the public to contribute to restoration projects that are creating or improving wildlife habitat in the Onondaga Lake watershed.

Onondaga Lake is one of the most studied lakes in the country. The results that have been accomplished at Onondaga Lake build on decades of work by incredible scientists and engineers, as well as scores of volunteers who have gathered and analyzed data, developed solutions and implemented projects that are helping achieve a remarkable recovery.