Islands crumbling in Irondequoit Bay

(WHAM photo)

Webster, N.Y. - The flooding along the shoreline of Lake Ontario is speeding up erosion on the islands of Irondequoit Bay.

The two islands in Webster, in the Devil's Cove area of the bay, are crumbling. And the high waters are only part of the problem.

“It's probably accelerating erosion way beyond anything we've seen in the last 100 years,” said Webster Commissioner of Public Works Geoff Benway.

Birds have been damaging the structure of the islands for years.

Thousands of cormorants have made the islands home. These birds are an invasive species, but they're protected.

Benway says the birds' droppings are acidic and are killing the trees and their roots.

“As the trees die, we lose the erosion control measures the roots provide,” said Benway. “And the waves, the high water, erode these banks even more than they have in the past.”

Benway says the trees were all green just two years ago.

And as they die and the islands crumble, part of what makes the bay a great spot to fish is threatened.

“[The islands] provide some great refuge for some of the fish, the habitat of the Irondequoit Bay. This is a great fishing spot, and I would hate to lose the prime fishing that Irondequoit Bay provides," he said.

Benway says it's why he and citizens in other towns bordering the bay are turning to the state for help, to find a way to combat these birds - and now, the rising water.

They hope to slow down the erosion before these islands disappear.

“We're pushing hard for assistance, whether it's financial assistance or regulatory assistance to help with this problem," said Benway.

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