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State seeks tourism rebound in Lake Ontario region

By Eric Reinhardt


A boat carrying Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York Attorney General Letitia James sails the waters of Lake Ontario near Oswego. Cuomo on Aug. 1 announced a new campaign to boost tourism in the Lake Ontario region following recent shoreline flooding that hampered it. (PHOTO CREDIT: Cuomo Flickr page / Mike Groll, Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)

OSWEGO — The state wants visitors returning to communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline where recent flooding has hampered tourism.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Aug. 1 launched a new campaign seeking to promote tourism in that part of upstate New York.

The state also announced grant awards for Syracuse University, the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, and the village of Sodus Point in Wayne County for community-based projects. Those projects seek to “enhance community, ecological and economic resiliency throughout the Great Lakes watershed,” Cuomo’s office said in a news release.

The new tourism initiative includes free fishing on Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence River, and Lower Niagara River through Labor Day. It also includes 50 percent off state campgrounds and vehicle-entrance fees along the lake and river. 

The state will provide over $5 million to modernize the Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Oswego County, Cuomo also announced.

A new television ad airing in multiple neighboring states will promote this new campaign and activities in the region. 

The campaign seeks to “remind visitors considering travel to New York State that Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River areas are open for business and filled with great opportunities available for weekend trips or extended vacations,” per the release. 

Great Lakes grant awards 

As part of Cuomo’s REDI initiative, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York Sea Grant also announced funding awards totaling nearly $75,000 for community-based projects in the region. REDI is short for resiliency and economic-development initiative.

The REDI Commission, which Cuomo announced May 29, is a multi-agency task force charged with developing a plan to harden infrastructure and increase resiliency along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, while strengthening the region’s local economies.

The grant recipients include the Environmental Finance Center at Syracuse University, which will use its nearly $25,000 grant for a project in the town of Sandy Creek. This project includes providing local government with assistance in developing a planning strategy for the North and South Sandy Ponds’ watersheds. 

The St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce will also use a nearly $25,000 grant award for tourism destination master planning. This project is creating an inter-municipal plan to “enhance and secure” funding for eco-tourism and recreational opportunities. Those include increasing access to local waterways and land resources for recreational activities year-round. 

The Village of Sodus Point will use its grant award of nearly $25,000 for developing the South Ontario Street canoe and kayak launch as an “eco-tourism destination” for Great Sodus Bay. This project “enhances” waterfront access with a handicapped-accessible non-motorized boat launch and gateway to a Sodus Bay paddling trail. The site work includes green-infrastructure elements and preserves a naturally existing bank area along the bay. Community collaborators include the Neighborhood Association of Sodus Point and Save Our Sodus.

The funding awards are part of the Great Lakes Basin Small Grants Program, which seeks to “enhance community, ecological and economic resiliency throughout the Great Lakes watershed,” per the release.

Funding comes from the state Environmental Protection Fund’s Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Program and “supports the application of ecosystem-based management to complex environmental problems to conserve, protect and enhance irreplaceable Great Lakes natural resources,” Cuomo’s office added.

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