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January 25, 2012 The Partnership for Onondaga Creek (POC) and Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC) are pleased to announce the award of $49,967 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to their joint project called “Growing Syracuse’s Next Generation of Environmental Justice Leaders”. Out of 123 applicants, the NYSDEC awarded a total of $1,002,424 to 24 projects across New York State, in grants ranging from $5,180 to $50,000. The POC/EOC project is the sole winner for the Central New York region. The award will be administered by the groups’ fiscal sponsor, the Onondaga Environmental Institute.

“OEI is pleased to serve as the fiscal sponsor on this project,” stated Onondaga Environmental Institute President Edward Michalenko. “The project’s goals to empower youth to be active participants in creating positive change for their communities and the environment aligns nicely with OEI's mission to advance environmental research, education, planning and restoration in Central New York. Amy Samuels, OEI’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, is excited to provide youth technical training and mentoring.”

Full Press Release.

June 15, 2011 Amy Samuels and all of her hard work--planning outreach events, conducting rain barrel workshops, and coordinating barrel painting with Roberts School--are featured in Syracuse New Times article What's Shakin'

"What's Shakin' "
By Staff, Syracuse New Times

If the Save the Rain program mandated for Onondaga County seems like a drop in the bucket, that’s because part of it is. . .literally. If the Save the Rain program mandated for Onondaga County seems like a drop in the bucket, that’s because part of it is. . .literally. Through the court order designed to finally get Onondaga Lake cleaned up, the county has had to implement several urban infrastructure improvements including abating the Combined Sewer Overflows that result in untreated sewage pouring into the lake during heavy rainfall.

One new, old-fashioned way to combat this problem is to supply a rain barrel to any city resident who participates in a workshop and agrees to use the barrel in the prescribed way. The next in the series of workshops takes place this Saturday, June 18, during the Greater Strathmore Neighborhood Association’s homes tour and Art on the Porches events.

With the artistic bent to the festivities, Amy Samuels, education and outreach coordinator at the Onondaga Environmental Institute (OEI), contacted Art on the Porches organizers to see about conducting a barrel-painting session as part of the workshop. “A few days later someone different than I had contacted got in touch with me,” Samuels reported. “We were thinking the same thing. I asked them if there are any artists who participate in their event who might like to paint some barrels and be part of a raffle.”

Click to read Full Story from The Syracuse New Times

April 27, 2011 Amy Samuels talks about the design and benefits of rain gardens for a YNN news story - "Rain gardens help protect Onondaga Lake"- on Green Infrastructure projects in Syracuse.


April 13, 2011 OEI supports the return of Murphy's Island to Onondaga Nation - OEI President, Ed Michalenko, speaks to the nature of on-site contamination.

"A step toward healing:' An effort to return some sacred land"
By Sean Kirst, Syracuse Post-Standard

Dorothy Webster’s one-line response is already a familiar tale at the Onondaga Nation. A few years ago, Lloyd Withers, a corporate executive from Syracuse, stopped by the nation cookhouse to make a proposal. He told the chiefs and clan mothers that he believed Murphy’s Island, a 36-acre piece of land along Onondaga Lake, ought to be returned to the Onondagas.

His hosts listened carefully. Once Withers left, the men and women at the table looked at one another. Someone asked Webster, one of the clan mothers, what she thought of the offer. Webster, who died last year at 81, replied with the dry, pitch-perfect humor of her people:

“Well,” she said. “Can you remember the last time a white man came to us, wanting to give us back some land?"

The reaction was soft laughter, because the answer was never. But Withers was serious. He has spent several years building support for his idea: Murphy’s Island, a littered and polluted county-owned strip of shoreline, should be cleaned up and handed back to its original owners.

Click to read full Syracuse Post-Standard article

April 3, 2011 OEI President, Ed Michalenko to meet with OEI board member, James Walsh and US Representative Ann Marie Buerkle about legislation regarding the Onondaga Lake Watershed Council.

"Legislation to give local control of Onondaga Lake cleanup project stalls in Congress"
By Mark Weiner, Syracuse Post-Standard

Nine months after Congress began considering a bill that was supposed to usher in a new era for the cleanup of Onondaga Lake, the legislation has stalled in both the House and Senate.

But supporters — including New York’s two U.S. senators — say they are committed to passing the measure this year with the help of new advocates for the legislation.

The Onondaga Lake Restoration Act would shift most oversight of the $1.1 billion cleanup — in its 14th year — from the federal government to Central New Yorkers with a stake in the lake’s restoration.

If passed, the act would give local residents, Central New York scientists and the Onondaga Nation the leading voices in determining the future of the lake, rather than federal bureaucrats.

Click to read the full Syracuse Post-Standard article

March 31, 2011 OEI's Amy Samuels publishes article in the Syracuse South Side Stand. Students from a number of local job training programs, including Jubilee Home’s Youth Build Program and Matawon Development Group from the South Side, attended The Pourous Pavement Workshop held on March 17th hosted by OEI.

"South Side Job Training Classes Attend Green Infrastructure Workshop"
By Amy Samuels, South Side Stand

This past St Patrick’s Day students from a number of local job training programs, including Jubilee Home’s Youth Build Program and Matawon Development Group from the South Side, attended a day long workshop about green infrastructure, green jobs and green funding.

The workshop, which was hosted by the Onondaga Environmental Institute and the Partnership for Onondaga Creek, drew 180 participants including local engineers, landscape architects, contractors and municipal officials seeking to learn more about porous pavement and the green construction projects that are currently underway around Syracuse in conjunction with Onondaga County’s “Save the Rain” program.

County Executive Joanie Mahoney has announced Onondaga County will implement 50 green infrastructure projects (including porous pavement, green roofs, urban trees, and rain gardens) in 2011, with more projects planned for next year.

Click to read full article


March 12, 2011 Meredith Perreault (OEI), Lindsay Speer (NOON), and Catherine Landis (SUNY-ESF PhD student) had their letter to the editor published by the Syracuse Post-Standard. Read their comments concerning a Racino on Onondaga Lake's shore here.


January 21, 2011 Tyler Andre, along side of several other community members, will be presenting the latest "Citizen's Strategic Action Plan" for walking, hiking, cycling, and wheeling CNY paths and trails, on behalf of CNY Pathways, at this Friday's F.O.C.U.S Core Group meeting. CNY Pathways, includes members from city and county government agencies, citizen's cycling groups, disability advocacy groups, advocates for healthy living, and other interested organizations and citizens. OEI has been a contributing member to CNY Pathways since the early days and is excited to see the work presented to the public.

Board Member Clyde Ohl, The Syracuse Post-Standard Letter to the Editor (11-18-2010)

Willows look like excuse to avoid costs 

To the Editor:

In 1974, Allied Corp. promised the town of Camillus it would cap the waste beds, in a compact that permitted the expansion of the Allied industrial waste sites. Subsequently, the beds were declared a superfund site due to contamination including mercury, asbestos and lead chlorinated benzene.

Apparently, capping the industrial waste beds did not serve the purposes of Allied-Honeywell, which left them uncapped for a quarter-century. The town has little voice in any of the stipulations agreed to by a seemingly compliant state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Overall, Allied has been very effective in delaying implementation of the agreement since the closing of the old Allied industrial plant in 1986. The most recent strategy was to look at so-called “green-friendly” technologies, such as the cultivation of willows in the waste beds.

Allied-Honeywell effectively lobbied our too-timid local and state leaders to defer and ultimately eliminate covering the waste beds. The Post-Standard story Wednesday on the Allied-Honeywell initiatives illustrates their success.

Covering the waste beds would cost Honeywell-Allied upwards of $120 million — in addition to the federal court order to dredge and treat contaminants in Onondaga Lake. Small wonder Allied-Honeywell has been casting around for any way to avoid paying for the traditional type of cover — which consists of approximately three feet of imported soil and appropriate plantings to aid in the evapo-transpiration process.

Honeywell-Allied’s goal is to resolve the waste bed issues and get out of town at the lowest possible cost. Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo, the new attorney general and DEC commissioner should investigate this situation and ensure Honeywell-Allied implements the agreement signed so many years ago.

Clyde Ohl 


OEI President Ed Michalenko, spoke as one of many experts at a press conference for U.S. Representative Dan Maffei's stance on global climate change.

Follow the links below for press coverage. For more information on Global Climate Change, check out OEI's NEW resource page on the topic (Coming soon, thank you for your patience).

Central New York environmental experts, Dan Maffei criticize Ann Marie Buerkle's stance on global warming (10-14-2010)
By Mark Weiner The Post-Standard

SUNY-ESF President Endorses Maffei Over Issue of Climate Change (10-15-2010)
By Ryan Morden 89.9 WRVO npr

Global warming comments spark controversy (10-15-2010)
By Web Staff The Post-Standard

List of Articles Covering July 6, 2010 Press Conference for Onondaga Lake Restoration Act

Effler: Onondaga Lake's Truth-Teller (07-07-2010)
By Sean Kirst The Post-Standard

Lake Shake-up: New Plan a Welcome Step Toward More Local Control(07-07-2010)
By The Post-Standard "Our Opinion"

Officials Announce New Onondaga Lake Clean-up Legislation (07-06-2010)
By Charley Hannagan The Post-Standard

Waves of Support for local control of Onondga Lake Project (07-06-2010)
By Mark Weiner The Post-Standard

Ed Michalenko's (President, OEI) speech at press release.


Onondaga Lake Field Trip (05-19-2010)
By Ellen Blalock The Post-Standard

Onondaga Lake Fieldtrip

Michael E. Spada, a Freshwater Biologist with the Upstate Freshwater Institute (UFI), has helped coordinate a field trip to Onondaga Lake for the city high schools. The goal of the trip is to teach students about the lake's ecosystem through hands-on activities and workshops. http://www.syracuse.com

This UFI project was funded under the sponsorship of the Onondaga Lake Partnership with funds for the Public Education and Mini Grants Program made available to OEI through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

2010 Post-Standard Achievement Awards: Robert Doucette helped turn Armory Square into a hip place to live, shop and eat (04-02-2010)
By Rick Moriarty The Post-Standard

2010 PSAA: Robert Doucette

Robert Doucette admits he didn’t know much about being a developer when he and a friend, landscape architecture professor George Curry, began the transformation of a rundown warehouse district into one of Syracuse’s hippest commercial and residential neighborhoods.

“We didn’t know what we were doing, and that was a good thing because if we did, we never would have done it,” said Doucette, 63, one of eight recipients of the 2010 Post-Standard Achievement Awards and the man many credit for leading the redevelopment of Armory Square. “It didn’t make economic sense.”

To view the complete Syracuse Post-Standard article, visit the Post Standard site at:

Spin City (05-13-2010)
By Molly English-Bowers Syracuse New Times

Twelve years ago, the FOCUS (Forging Our Community’s United Strength) Greater Syracuse Vision Fair received a surprise answer to its question on how to best improve the area: Build bicycle and walking paths wherever possible. “It stunned everyone there that No. 1 was building leisure trails,” notes Jon Cooley, director of recreation and public programs for Onondaga County Parks. And while that group consensus didn’t result in an immediate burst of trail construction, some progress has been made in that regard.

Loop the Lake—a 13-mile, linked trail around Onondaga Lake—remains a dream, but the city of Syracuse has reconfigured some roadways to create, if not dedicated bike lanes, then at least marked-pavement bike routes. A good portion of Route 31, as it wends its way from Cicero to Baldwinsville, has signage indicating that it’s a bike route, but the traffic-heavy corridor from Morgan Road to Gaskin Road leaves much to be desired.

Part of the problem there in the town of Clay, and in many spots, is motorist ignorance, apathy and even hostility toward their two-wheeled colleagues. The bottom line is that bicycles are subject to and allowed the same courtesy of motor vehicle law—but there’s always a smart-ass out there that refuses to yield the right-of-way or tries to turn into traffic even though the cyclist is traffic...

To view the complete Syracuse New Times article, visit the New Times site at:

For further information contact Lynn Greer, 716-879-4260

Onondaga Lake Partnership announces 2010 mini-grants awards

Syracuse, N.Y. – The Onondaga Lake Partnership (OLP) awarded seven mini grants for the 2010 program totaling $23,765.67.  Funding will support various green infrastructure, and lake and watershed education programs in the community including:

1.  Baltimore Woods Nature Center ($4,994.35) for the ‘Nature in the City 3rd Grade Stream Exploration at Elmwood Park’.

2.  Nine Mile Creek Conservation Council ($881.32) for production of an updated water trail brochure to provide the public with current river and watershed portages, routes, access points, etc.  

3.  Northside Collaboratory ($4,400.00) for ‘Green Infrastructure Education for Urban Communities’. 

4.  Friends of Rosamond Gifford Zoo ($5,000.00) ‘Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s Rain Garden and Cistern’.

5.  Friends of the Town of Dewitt ($4,030.00) ‘Town of Dewitt Franklin Park Project’.

6.  Town of Dewitt-Parks and Recreation ($2,000.00) for ‘Rain Garden Demonstration and Stewardship Project’. 

7.  SUNY ESF ($2,460) for ‘Onondaga Lake Stewards’ 2010 summer camp program. 

The purpose of the mini-grants program is to fund multiple locally-based projects designed to increase the knowledge and involvement of the public in Onondaga Lake and its watershed and strengthen the link between communities and the Partnership.  For additional information about the mini grants program, or to read a summary of awarded projects, please visit the Onondaga Lake Partnership website at http://www.onlakepartners.org/public_projects_mini.htm.

Funding for the Mini-Grants Program is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), an OLP member organization, through a grant to Onondaga Environmental Institute.


Working to Clean Onondaga Lake a sacred task for Haudenosaunee (4-20-2010)
By Douglass Dowty The Post Standard

Syracuse, NY -- Long ago, the Peacemaker brought together five nations on the shore of Onondaga Lake to bury their weapons of war and form the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The lake, its waters, plants, fish, birds and animals were an intrinsic part of their existence.

But human intervention contaminated the lake and killed off much of its wildlife. Now, all must work together to restore it.

So states the “vision for a clean Onondaga Lake” unveiled Monday by the Onondaga Nation at Syracuse Stage. The 12-page document was read by Seneca Indian Henry Lickers, a biologist on the Mohawk territory at Akwesasne.

“We will be sure that the lake is clean enough to drink the water and eat the fish, and clean enough for children to play and swim in the water,” Lickers said. “We will strengthen our culture and restore our trust in the lake.”

The vision explains the natural order of life: “The rabbits feed the wolves. The wolves feed the land. The great cycle will go on.”

But human-inflicted damage has marred that order. From salt solution mining in the Tully Valley, to PCBs, dioxins and mercury in the water, pollution has threatened its very essence.

“Due to global warming, the sun’s rays are reaching the earth in ways that are harmful to all of us,” the vision states. “Global warming and the sun’s rays affect the life cycles of fish within Onondaga Lake and will change the habitat so that different plants and animals will thrive along its shores.”

The light pollution from Syracuse has hidden the stars and the shores remain scarred from salt and limestone mining, the vision states...

To view the complete Post Standard article, visit the Post Standard site at:

Lake and Creek Vision
Radio Broadcast 4-20-10
By Scott Willis WAER 88.3 Public Radio

The Onondaga Nation has a vision for how Onondaga Lake should be cleaned…and the plan in place now isn’t what they have in mind for.  The nation publicly presented its comprehensive long-term vision for the future of the lake last night, with the hope of raising the consciousness of the lake to a more holistic level. Nation general counsel Joe Heath says the current approach misses that mark for waters sacred to the Onondaga…

Joe Heath sound bite 0:19

Heath says we’re already seeing caps failing that were put in place in the 1980’s. The discussion about the lake is also intended to bring in other people and organizations so everyone can work together to truly clean the lake. Onondaga Environmental Institute project manager Meredith Perreault compares the Nation’s vision to her work on a revitalization plan for Onondaga Creek, which feeds the lake…

Meredith Perreault sound bite 0:23

Perreault and Heath say we should envision what the lake was like before the industrial pollution, when people drank from it, ate its fish, and swam in it. Last night’s gathering was part of a year-long series of discussions about better understanding the Onondaga land rights.


Board Member Clyde Ohl, The Syracuse Post-Standard Letter to the Editor (2-21-2010)

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently held an informational meeting on the Allied-Honeywell initiative to move forward with its environmental remedies for Onondaga Lake.

Question: Does the community benefit in any way from the Allied-Honeywell initiative to store permanently Onondaga Lake-dredged materials containing mercury, PCBs and other chemicals in sediment containment areas in the town of Camillus?

It seemed evident from the meeting the basics of the project were firmly in place. It also seemed evident the most residents could hope for was some “tweaking” of the project. However, no major deviations would be considered.

The DEC officials did assure the audience they had studied alternatives before deciding to place the lake dredgings on an abandoned wastebed, but little credence would be given to any major changes.

In effect, the arrangement placed before the public was plan A, and no Plan B was possible. Frankly, only minimal benefit would ever be realized. True, environmental issues would be addressed to provide a “safe,” decades-long storage system. However, this final storage of the dredgings from Onondaga Lake promises to be the final legacy of Honeywell International, which merged with AlliedSignal, on the area.

We should remember the primary goal of Allied-Honeywell has been to get out of town as quickly as possible after the 1986 closing of its old production plant. However, it can do so only after providing DEC with solutions to the problems left over from the pre-1986 era. Although Allied-Honeywell has set aside hundreds of millions of dollars to alleviate environmental concerns surrounding the old plant, it is also driven by the desire to provide same to the DEC at the lowest cost possible...

To view the complete Post Standard article, visit the Post Standard site at: http://blog.syracuse.com/opinion/2010/02/final_legacy_of_allied_chemica.html


Syracuse, N.Y. – The Onondaga Lake Partnership (OLP) is accepting proposals for the Spring 2010 Public Education and Outreach Mini-Grants Program.  Applications from eligible organizations within the Onondaga Lake watershed must be postmarked by March 1, 2010.  Award notification will be in May 2010. 

The purpose of the program is to fund multiple locally-based projects designed to increase the knowledge and involvement of the public in Onondaga Lake and its watershed and strengthen the link between communities and the Partnership.  Individual grants will be awarded in various amounts up to $5,000.  Organizations eligible to apply include:  Indian Nations or their designated organization, local government or public agencies, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations and associations. 

Additional information about eligibility and application forms for the Onondaga Lake Partnership Mini-Grants program may be obtained on the OLP website, http://www.onlakepartners.org/public_projects_mini.htm, or by contacting Onondaga Environmental Institute at 315-472-2150 x10 or via e-mail at olpoutreach@oei2.org.   

Funding for the Mini-Grants Program is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), an OLP member organization, through a grant to Onondaga Environmental Institute. 

How a 'Green' Solution to Sewage Won the Day (Syracuse Post-Standard 1-18-2010) identifies OEI's role in the County Executive's decision to abandon RTFs. OEI performed data analysis of bacteria in Onondaga Creek. Ed Michalenko met with political and regulatory officials and local environmental leaders. He presented results of the data analysis that justified a moratorium on RTFs in favor of sewer separation and the green infrastructure approach.



Contact: Edward Michalenko, President, Onondaga Environmental Institute (OEI)
(315)472.2150 ext 10 outreach@oei2.org

Syracuse – September 24, 2009 – The Onondaga Lake Partnership (OLP), in concert with Onondaga Environmental Institute (OEI), is pleased to announce that the Draft Onondaga Creek Conceptual Revitalization Plan (OCRP) is available for public review and comment and can be viewed by the public either online or in area libraries and neighborhood centers.

The document presents a conceptual plan for renewing Onondaga Creek and transforming its corridor into an attractive asset. The draft plan is the result of a three year effort by OEI working in collaboration with project partners and the Onondaga Creek Working Group and funded through the Onondaga Lake Partnership with grant monies from the USEPA.

The DRAFT OCRP is available online at www.onondagaenvironmentalinstitute.org and at the following libraries and centers throughout the Onondaga Creek Watershed: White Branch, Beauchamp, Central, Petit Branch and Betts Libraries in the City of Syracuse, LaFayette Library, Onondaga Free Library, Southwest Community Center, Northeast Community Center, and the Tully Library.

Continued public involvement is vital to the transformation and improvement of the Onondaga Creek Watershed. Neighboring creek residents, property owners and organizations and businesses located along the creek as well as anyone interested in the future of the creek and Onondaga Lake are encouraged to review the document and submit their written comments to: the Onondaga Environmental Institute through e-mail (outreach@oei2.org) or mail (ATTN: Meredith Perreault/Onondaga Environmental Institute/102 West Division Street, Third Floor/Syracuse, NY 13204).

Over the past three years OEI, with its project partners and the Onondaga Creek Working Group, held a series of public meetings and planning workshops to set goals and plan for a better future for Onondaga Creek. The Working Group, a diverse group of volunteers who live or work in the watershed, was instrumental in the development of the OCRP. Building on the community vision, the Working Group’s efforts became the heart of the OCRP.
Some of the many possible benefits of creek revitalization listed in the plan include: generating renewal in surrounding neighborhoods, creating recreation and education opportunities, providing access to nearby nature, linking diverse communities, fostering economic growth and development, promoting local pride, and restoring and protecting the natural environment.

The public comment period on the draft plan will end December 31, 2009. For more information about the Onondaga Creek Conceptual Revitalization Plan visit www.onondagaenvironmentalinstitute.org. To schedule a presentation of the findings within the OCRP or to request a copy of the plan on compact disk, please contact Meredith Perreault at the Onondaga Environmental Institute at (315)472.2150 ext 22 or email outreach@oei2.org.


OEI facilitates celebration of World Water Monitoring Day

September 16, 2009
Joan Cope Savage - Onondaga Environmental Institute

OEI facilitates celebration of World Water Monitoring Day (http://www.worldwatermonitoringday.org/) for middle school and high school students in the Onondaga Lake watershed.  Schools in the City of Syracuse and near Onondaga Creek are given preference.

The lively annual event succeeds due to cooperation of several government agencies, organizations and the school system.  Onondaga Lake Partnership (Hotlink) sponsorship enables the event to receive federal funding. Each year four or more environmental scientists generously give their skill and energy, with the support of their employing agencies and organizations. The core group of volunteers from the US Geological Survey, Upstate Freshwater Institute, Onondaga Environmental Institute, New York State Parks, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation bring their expertise and enthusiasm each year.  The critically important United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) federal funding pays for water testing supplies, teacher supplies, administrative labor, and student transportation to and from the field site. The US Geological Survey supervises the use of their waders and life vests, which the students wear for the in-stream sampling exercise.

The one-day event can efficiently include five school classes. The classes rotate through a site on the streambank of Onondaga Creek where the scientists and equipment are stationed.  In 2009, five schools sent classes, and a total of 95 students participated.

US Geological Survey scientists lead students through an exercise of in-stream water quality testing for temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen (DO), and acidity (pH).  On shore, other scientists provide interactive presentations of fish and macroinvertebrates (with both live and fixed specimens), teaching small groups of students about key concepts of habitat, food chains, and other aspects of stream ecology.  The classroom teachers circulate, observe, and take away a box of supplies to expand on the lessons provided at the event.

Students have the rare opportunity to meet full time practicing environmental scientists whose depth of knowledge is ready for their questions. The program stimulates students to be better citizens regarding protection of water quality and learn more about the parameters of water quality. The one-day event provides an intense and compact experience. As one teacher noted, “The students will talk about it for weeks.”