Author Topic: A reply to a Rochester Beacon posting from STCC  (Read 182 times)

Michael Caswell

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A reply to a Rochester Beacon posting from STCC
« on: August 21, 2021, 01:17:39 pm »
Here's the Beacon post!

Here's the ECNA reply.

* Maier reply.pdf (77.45 kB - downloaded 14 times.) Download to see andoperate all the links in the text below.

I find it incredible that the founders of the Stop The Clear Cut group, (STCC), Ms Agte & Maier, who have absolutely no credentials in Dam & Canal Maintenance, Dam & Canal Engineering, Hydrology or Forestry Management, can make these rash statements against the folks running the NYPA and Canal Corporation, who have a fist full of engineering degrees and titles to back up their positions.

To say there is ‘a nearly nonexistent risk’ is one of the biggest problems with this group. It’s like the people of Pompeii saying there was ‘a nearly nonexistent risk’ of Vesuvius erupting. Unlikely? Maybe. Impossible? No!  Dams fail, for many reasons. Do you want to risk it? Do you want to gamble with all those lives living below this dangerous dam?

The NYPA consulted with NYDEC and were told a SEQR study was unnecessary. The court thought otherwise because, in part, of the testimony of Prof Donald Gray , stating that trees stabilize embankments, (he was referring to Levees), but he was not told by the STCC that this was a dangerous badly maintained Earthen Embankment Dam. When we, the ECNA (Erie Canal Neighbors Association., informed him of that small detail, his answer was- “I know of no circumstances where trees were purposely planted, or allowed to grow on an earthen dam”.

Another ‘expert’ was found by the STCC, Dr David Rosgen (Wildland Hydrology) to back up their claims, and he thought he was discussing wooded slopes, (similar to Professor Gray) but when we explained to him it was a dangerous dam, he wrote to the STCC and recanted his testimony. He said, “Dam embankments of native fill represent different processes and as such, vegetation can represent a risk to stability due to water piping and positive pore water pressure failures.” He meant a dirt made dam and hydrostatic pressure from the water it was holding back.  The STCC group were well aware of this, but chose to pass it by.

To say there is no convincing evidence that trees have no place on these dams flies in the face of the many reports by. - (click on the links here)

Thomas. Grasso President Emeritus Canal Society of New York State
USACE - Army Corps Of Engineers,
ASDSO - Association of State Dam Safety Officials, Informative short movie
ASDSO - Association of State Dam Safety Officials, The phreatic line.
More FEMA,
United States Bureau Of Reclamation

Many people who live in dam breach inundation zones are completely unaware of the potential hazard lurking upstream. Millions of gallons of water are up that ‘hill’ with trees on them, most of those trees are old and tired, just waiting for a good wind to blow them down, breaching the dam.
The Rizzo Engineering Dam Report states, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Risk Category II - High Urgency rating. - unable to properly inspect due to overgrowth and trees. Much of the FOIL request we asked for regarding dam inspections for the past 20 years was redacted. NYPA lawyers told us it was a national security problem, sensitive material. One senator’s staff thought I was joking when I told them that.

The NYPA consulted with many experts in Hydrology, Dam Engineering, Forestry, Dam Maintenance etc. which is quite obvious if you study their report.  Their focus is on saving human life here, and rectifying a serious problem that the STCC make light of.  Many people living in Crystal Springs and Marsh Rd areas could easily be flooded out.
Ms Maier writes a good tale, but unfortunately, her group avoids the main objective of the NYPA, which is to bring a poorly constructed 100+ year old dam up to a safe condition. It was designed before much knowledge was gained from past bitter experiences, and has suffered complete neglect likely thanks to previous mismanagement, a lack of funds, and alternative modes of transport.
As for public dialog, there has been plenty of that going on over the past 4 years, and, I think the NYPA has now published all the answers in its new draft EIS, and have little else to say. It would appear they are no longer interested in talking to a group that has no evidence of an alternative plan.
The town of Perinton, the village of Fairport, Monroe County and us (ECNA)  have stayed away from discussions, despite offers from radio stations to enter into a banter with the STCC and company. We’ve come to the conclusion long ago, that trees don’t belong on an old, tired, badly designed  and dangerous dam.There is no point in listening to the STCC any more, we’ve heard it all before.
Unfortunately, two of the town supervisors who organised the court case, are trying desperately to justify their position. The other two instigators - one was voted out of office, the other leaving under suspicious circumstances.
Some senators have made comment on the group’s Facebook page, but several folks there have noticed the ambiguity in their statements. They are asking for a better plan. But there never has been a ‘better plan’ offered by the STCC, because you just can’t get past this - no trees on a dam!
Here are the real problems.
The slope angle is far too steep, a 1:1 base to height ratio, it should be 3:1. This needs numerous fixes to stabilize the slope - new toe drains, a berm at the toe of the slope, etc. etc. Huge gauges from crest to toe, some 12 feet wide and 6-8 feet deep, used by deer and people as paths. Hundreds of uprooted trees lie on the slope. Undergrowth so dense it is impossible to see further than a few feet, especially with foliage on.
Cottonwood trees, some 150 feet tall, weighing a couple of hundred tons each, are perched precariously on the steep slope. Many of them have bittersweet vines in their canopies, which catch the wind and pulls them over. Dozens of trees on this dam have suffered this fate over the past four years. See Huge Tree Blow Down in Fairport
In the event of a leak, how can heavy machinery get in to effect an emergency repair? It’s impossible.
Potential for loss of life and loss of's the same message from the NYSCC, and the same reaction from a Facebook group that won't accept it. It’s all a disaster waiting to happen, and this is being shrugged off with jolly talk of shady trees, oxygen making trees, and cute homes for burrowing animals.
The remediation process that has already been carried out west of Pittsford has been well received by the residents there. Plantings of screen trees on the crest, and rebuilding the slopes has made people feel safe from flood.
Residents living below the dam in Crystal Springs and Marsh Road areas are at serious risk of flooding. They need our support to quell the rhetoric spouted by folks who prefer trees to people, and who can't see the problem because of all the mis-information out there.
People could die here. You could be one of them unless you allow the NYPA to carry out their plan.
Please see our video of the undergrowth  and sign our petition supporting the Canal Corporation.
And see our web pages at  and
« Last Edit: August 25, 2021, 06:40:20 am by Michael Caswell »

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Doug K

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Re: A reply to a Rochester Beacon posting from STCC
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2021, 11:09:56 am »
Nothing more to say than this, because here we's Déjà Vu all over again.

Doug K

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Re: A reply to a Rochester Beacon posting from STCC
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2021, 06:20:56 pm »
Went back and read the title of Ms Maiers tree rant, and that may hold the key to what matters more to Ms Maier, Ms Agte, and this Facebook group.

Here's that Rochester Beacon Guest Opinion title: Trees on the Erie Canal are at risk again

Trees, it's all about trees to them. And the squirrels, and birds and that "shade" they seem to mention quite often... that's what holds the most "value" to his group.

Not the lives & property thousands of New York State Canal System "Neighbors ", who's families & homes are in jeopardy below these unsafe dams.

Not the tens of thousands of school children attending the schools located below these uninspected 100 year old earthen structures.

Not the millions of dollars that would be lost in lawsuits against the State of New York for damages from a flood caused by a Canal Embankment failure.

The Canal Corporation says TREES are the root cause of the dangerous conditions on 125 miles of the Canal System...

And this Facebook group forms to "root for the trees"...

This could happen only in Fairport, New York... a "not so fair" Village along the Erie Canal.

Glad that the Town of Perinton governing body has seen the light, and recognized the folly of this Facebook group's message.

« Last Edit: September 17, 2021, 06:25:49 pm by Doug K »