Cayuga Wetlands Restoration Project

The Cayuga Wetlands Restoration project was born in 2016 based on the initiative of students in a senior science class and wisdom shared by Sachem (Chief) Samuel George of Cayuga Nation. After piloting sustainable indigenous practices, New Roots was awarded $48,745 in grants from the Park Foundation ($10,000) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ($38,745) in 2019. The grants stem from New York State’s clean water initiative and are intended to empower students, hired for our Wetlands Restoration Corps, to restore and expand wetlands in the Cayuga Lake watershed by planting and maintaining native wetland plant species. In response to water quality testing and research about indigenous land and water management practices, students petitioned the City of Ithaca for permission to establish a pilot wetlands site by planting cattail, calamus, and arrowhead. Subsequent water testing by science classes at the test site demonstrated improved water quality due to biofiltering of harmful pollutants, including phosphorus that may lead to harmful algal blooms. Today, students can apply for summer jobs, funded by the grants to learn ecosystem restoration and bioremediation skills while providing the labor to expand the wetlands sites as part of the DEC’s initiative to protect and improve our waterways in New York State. Puddledocker’s Kayak Shop, shares their boats and docks with students and staff through a partnership that was established in the summer of 2019. Give thanks for each and every community partner who has helped launch this essential project! Water is LIFE!