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On Air: NY Sea Grant Publishes New Erosion Guide
Great Lakes Coastal Processes and Erosion - News

Photo: Bluffs like the ones at Sterling Nature Center line Lake Ontario. The New York Sea Grant published a guide to understanding Great Lakes bluffs. Credit: Abigail Connolly / WRVO


Roy Widrig, Great Lakes Coastal Processes and Hazards Specialist, E: rlw294@cornell.edu, P: 315-312-3042

Published by Abigail Connolly for WRVO FM

Oswego, NY, June 19, 2023 - New York Sea Grant is offering new assistance to bluff and coastline erosion.

Sandy beaches and gentle shorelines are not the typical landscape for Great Lakes shores. Instead, rocky terrains and bluffs line the lake. For Roy Widrig, a Great Lakes Coastal Processes and Hazard Specialist for New York Sea Grant, these bluffs represent a larger historical process — erosion.

“These bluffs have been continually eroding for a very long time, I mean we are talking thousands of years here,” Widrig said.

Widrig said even if properties are experiencing erosion, owners should not be too worried.

“We don’t want people to panic when they do see erosion happening,” Widrig said.

Widrig and his colleague Kathleen Fallon recently published a new guide aimed at bluff formation and erosion processes and how to monitor and report bluff erosion. Widrig said the guide was the result of an influx of erosion-related inquiries following increased erosion during harsh flood years in 2017 and 2019.

“So we received a lot of questions from people,” Widrig said. “How can we kind of temper this erosion, how can we slow it down, or how can we use this process as a way to conserve shoreline instead of continuing hardening them with rock riprap walls and cement seawalls?”

While it is not possible to reverse the erosion process, Widrig said this is not all bad.

“We are probably not going to get the bluffs back in any way, there is no process for that to happen,” Widrig said. “But the loss of those bluffs is actually sustaining other coastal features like wetland barrier bars and beaches.”

New York Sea Grant offers in-person and virtual assistance for inquiries regarding coastline concerns. The new guide can be found here: Erosion and Recession of New York’s Coastal Bluffs (pdf).

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University and with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County on Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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