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Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 11:21 am

The Tonawanda Creek reaches minor flood stage

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek, weather

The Tonawanda Creek has reached a minor flood stage of nine feet high and is expected to crest this afternoon at 9.3 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

Photo from about an hour ago at the spillway behind the County Courthouse.

Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Photos: Snowy Egret, Tonawanda Creek

post by Howard B. Owens in Tonawanda Creek

Chris Hausfelder spotted this egret on the Tonawanda a few days ago and was able to snap a couple of pictures of this elusive bird.

Saturday, July 19, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Eagle Scout project nets 180 lbs of garbage hauled from the Tonawanda Creek

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Boy Scouts, Tonawanda Creek, troop 6069

More than 20 volunteers hauled out 180 pounds of garbage from the Tonawanda Creek this morning under the supervision of Boy Scout Alex Hansen.

The cleanup was the culmination of Alex's Eagle Scout project, which he said took a year to plan and execute.

It required the cooperation of Genesee ARC (who hauled away the garbage for free) and Sloat Tire to pick up the tires that were collected, and Alex had to coordinate the volunteers through the Tonawanda Watershed Committee and Troop 6069.

"The creek over the years has become really polluted with trash," Alex said. "People just throw tires and water heaters and even air conditioners right over the bridges in town. All this stuff gets washed to places, such as Kiwanis Park, and so we have people people cleaning because there's trash everywhere."

The 16-year-old scout said volunteers dispersed to Kiwanis Park, Kibbe Park, behind the courthouse and behind Valu Plaza.

"We think this will make a positive difference for the community because people want to enjoy the creek again," Alex said. "We want to make it a better place for people and wildlife."

Saturday, May 17, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Photos: A no-fish fishing derby on the Tonawanda Creek in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, outdoors, Tonawanda Creek

The fish weren't biting on the Tonawanda Creek today, but that didn't stop a group of Batavia residents from having fun during an annual fishing derby organized by John Lawrence.

The water was high and swift, which made it hard to even get a nibble, but the anglers, young and older, stuck with it.

Above, Brian Mruczek with is son Lakoda.

Giana Mruczek.

Nick Grasso puts on a show like he's really hooked something big.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm

A sunny morning along Tonawanda Creek

The sun had barely cleared the horizon when I pulled out of the driveway Tuesday morning. And with the camera case on the seat beside me, I really wasn't sure where I was going. The last thing I expected on a rather chilly morning was a bald eagle perched in a dead tree overlooking Tonawanda Creek.

Nearly an hour earlier, while watching the news and having coffee, I mulled over where I would go. At first I contemplated going either to the swamps, Genesee County Park or dragging the canoe out back and paddling upstream on the Tonawanda. These have all been productive in the past but this morning, for some reason, I opted for something different. But still, I couldn't make up my mind on where to go....so I just got in the truck and drove. There was also a catch....I didn't have great deal of time to kill as I had an appointment at 11 a.m.

The sun was making its way up the eastern horizon when I eased down a grassy bank of the Tonawanda where it flows along Stegman Road north of the Bushville bridge. Despite the bright sun on this morning, far less light penetrates shoreline canopy in this stretch. That would change farther downstream. The rock-studded shoreline is a good indication this is smallmouth territory.

Steam rising off the surface -- a good indication the water was considerably warmer than the chilly 45 degree air.   

Farther downstream is where I came across the bald eagle -- in surroundings more suitable for surveying its domain, scanning the creek and the surrounding area for a meal. Fish, muskrats, rabbits -- when you have a bill and talons that big and sharp, the menu is limitless.

Turning its head nearly 180 degrees enables him to watch his backside and prevent potential prey from slinking past.

Further upstream, blended in among fallen limbs, a trio of wood ducks are oblivious to the threat from above. 

Taking leave of their temporary haven, the woodies wisely head upstream -- toward the cover of the canopy.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 9:53 am

Volunteers install storm drain markers to remind residents about water quality for the Tonawanda

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek

Information and photos provided by Elizabeth Bentley-Huber.

Boy Scouts Tristan Korzelius, Jake Houseknecht and Ryan Missel installed storm drain markers in the City of Batavia on Saturday as part of an ongoing effort by the Tonawanda Creek Watershed Committee to remind people that what goes down storm drains has a direct impact on the quality of water in the Tonawanda.

A dozen volunteers installed 253 medallions over storm drain inlets throughout the city.

Tonawanda Creek committee members and local volunteers have also installed these markers in the Village of Attica, hamlets of Varysburg, North Java and Johnsonburg. Last year members installed medallions in the City of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda.

If you are interested in joining this effort or have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Bentley-Huber at Genesee County Soil & Water Conservation District at 585-343-2362 or at [email protected].

Kirk Peryea and Lucy Pietrzykowski

Kirk Peryea, Lucy Pietrzykowski, Greg Houseknecht, Jake Houseknecht, Tristan Korzelius, Ryan Missel, Robert Cassatt, Molly Stetz. Absent: James Tuttle, Les Winters, David Winters, Addison Winters. These volunteers installed 253 medallions over storm drains in the City of Batavia on July 27, 2013.

Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

Man rescued from the Tonawanda Creek off Walnut Street

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek

A person was rescued from the Tonawanda Creek at 9:30 a.m. in the area of 63 Walnut St., Batavia.

City Fire Department responded to the call and located a semiconscious man in the water who was being held by a bystander.

The victim was removed from the water by firefighters and transported to UMMC by Mercy EMS.

His name or condition has not yet been released.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 7:40 am

Batavia resident using the Tonawanda to prepare for historic canoe trip from Albany to NYC

Rick Levins says the Tonawanda Creek is a spiritual place. He's been drawn to it most of his life, he said. For more than 30 years, he's lived on its bank in a home on Walnut Street.

This spring, he started paddling it every day, finding a few moments of peace, but also preparing for a historic canoe trip next month from Albany to New York City down the Hudson River.

The trip is known as the Two Row Wampum Renewal Epic Canoe Trip and is being organized by a group of Native Americans in the Syracuse area to commemorate the first treaty between Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) and Dutch traders in 1613.

"Basically, the treaty said, 'we're in our canoes, you're in your ships, we're going down the same river together, but we won't bother you, you don't bother us,'" Levins said. "That didn't always work quite so well, but the Iroquois and Haudenosaunee have honored that treaty. This is a 400-year renewal. It's the basically indigenous person saying we're losing the path here and we need to get back to some of these old ways."

Levins is half Native -- his mother was from the Six Nations in Canada -- and his cousin from Six Nations introduced him to the trip.

The journey starts July 27 and ends Aug. 9 on the United Nations Indigenous People's Day. 

Along the way, there will be seminars and lectures. The trip is intended to promote peace, friendship and environmental sustainability.

Levins has been paddling on the Tonawanda every day since the start of spring preparing for the trip. Every day, he says, he has the creek to himself. He sees geese, ducks, herons, beavers and deer and listens to the birds tweet and twitter.

"I've even seen deer swimming in the creek," Levins said. "I was going up the creek, coming around the bend, and I saw something in the water. At first, I thought it was a beaver. There's a lot of beaver in here. Well, the beaver started to get up out of the water and it turned into a deer. A nice young buck with velvet."

Because of the historic meaning of the Tonawanda to both Natives and white settlers, Levins said he's always felt a special connection to the waterway that was once an important transportation link.

"The creek holds a lot of meaning to me," Levins said. "There's so much history here."

Links:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm

The white stuff falling from the sky isn't sticking much

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Tonawanda Creek, weather

It's been snowing in Genesee County pretty much continually since last night, but as you can see from the banks of the Tonawanda along West Main Street, Batavia, that there hasn't been much accumulation.

What accumulation there has been is pretty much just slush.

The Weather Service says expect more of the same through tomorrow.

Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 1:56 am

Photo: Swan on the Tonawanda

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, batavia, swan, Tonawanda Creek

A reader alerted us Saturday that she had seen a swan on the Tonawanda Creek earlier behind Settler's. Sure enough, we found this big white bird hanging out with the geese.

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