Creek project ready for 14th year

Pictured are the participants from last year’s Canadaway Creek Conservation Project.

The 14th Annual Canadaway Creek Conservation Project will be Saturday, June 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the pavilion behind the Fredonia Fire Hall which is located on Main Street. The event has traditionally been held the day before Father’s Day.

The project will include an educational presentation, a stream clean-up, invasive species removal and tree planting activities that have been set up to nurture and protect our local stream, Canadaway Creek.

Free lunch, caps, t-shirts and cake will be provided to all participants. This is a fun event that allows you to meet and work together with your community members while instilling the conservation spirit in our youth and revitalizing our energies as environmental patrons. We always enjoy seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Everyone is welcome!

The projected tentative schedule is as follows:

¯ 11:30 a.m.: Meet at gazebo behind the Fredonia Fire Hall on Main Street in Fredonia by the stream to sign-up, distribute maps of Canadaway Creek, participate in cook-out and select designate clean-up and planting sections.

¯ 12:30 p.m.: Educational presentation about Canadaway Creek.

¯ 1 p.m.: Move to designated sections and begin clean-up, remove invasive species and planting willow or dogwood whips.

3 to 3:30 p.m.: Return to Gazebo behind fire hall for a celebratory group get-together and cake.

Participants are encouraged to bring shoes appropriate for walking in the stream. Children must be accompanied by a relative.

Children in the Stream/4H is an not-for-profit volunteer educational program that, for the past 20 years, has been providing children with information and experiences related to aquatic resources, conservation, ethics, and flyfishing. The ethics of the program promotes “catch and release” as well as respect for fellow fisherman/woman and the land on which they fish. It is the goal of the program to protect the local species and the land for future generations. The program closely ties together the importance of understanding nature with the rewarding act of flyfishing.

The program meets every Monday from 7-8:30pm from September through early June in the Costello Room in the new addition to the Rockefeller Arts Center. It also periodically provides kids and community members with fly fishing field trips on Canadaway Creek. The program has also been trying to restore the brook trout population in the stream for the past 9 years. Participants can join at any time during the year. Children in the Stream/4H Youth Flyfishing Program works with the Cornell Cooperative, local schools and community groups. There is no cost to participate in this program.

The stream was originally settled by the Erie tribes and later by the Iroquois who called the stream “Ga-na-da-wa-o”, meaning “running through hemlocks”. The early European settlers from Eastern and Central Pennsylvania ended up pronouncing the name as “Canadaway”. The Native American name probably referred to the dense canopy that still covers the deep gorge at its headwaters. Early surveyors named the creek “Cascade” after the scenic falls (now called “Arkwright Falls” ) that are located in the town of Arkwright . The first non-native settlement along its banks occurred on 1804 and was called Canadaway.

This settlement later became the village of Fredonia. The mouth of Canadaway hosted the first naval battle in the War of 1812 where an American military company held off a British gunboat as it tried to seize a salt boat from Buffalo that had sought sanctuary in the creek. As the area became populated and settlements prospered along the stream, two preservations were created to protect the creek’s natural resources.

The first is the 33-acre Canadaway Creek Preserve is located at the mouth of the stream and is on a major flyway for migrating birds. During the fall and spring migration, the sanctuary protects around 140 species of birds. The second preserve is the Canadaway Creek Wildlife Management Area, which is located on a 2,180-acre tract of land that protects the headwaters. Its dense hardwood forest provides the nesting areas for a large variety of birds including the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Great Blue Heron.

The Children in the Stream/4H Youth Fly Fishing Program has spent the last nine years trying to restore the native brook trout population in this part of the stream. Due to their efforts the stream has seen brook trout in its waters for the first time in a century and have also been found migrating out of the Canadaway, into lake Erie and into other nearby streams.

The history of the introduction of steelhead (a rainbow trout originally from the Northwest) to Lake Erie is complicated. The fisheries in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York have, over the past 70 years, stocked many different strains of steelhead and salmon trying to find the right combination to insure the best returns during the spring and fall runs. As per DEC creel surveys, Canadaway Creek is now one of the most productive streams for steelhead fishing in the country and is a significant contributor to tourism dollars in the region. Canadaway Creek is a beautiful little gem in the Western New York area and the Children in the Stream/4H Youth Fly Fishing Program would like to work with the community to restore, nurture and preserve its natural resources for future generations. We hope you will join us and have some fun along the way.