Residents rally against plan to cut down trees along the Erie Canal

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Several communities along the Erie Canal are once again pushing against a renewed plan to cut down trees along the canal.

The group Stop the Canal Clear-Cut held a rally Sunday at Great Embankment Park in Pittsford. Members are opposed to a plan by the state Canal Corporation to clear vegetation along the canal.

The plan started four years ago but was stopped in 2018 to allow for an environmental impact study. Now that the study is complete, the plan is largely unchanged, and the public has until Sept. 5 to submit written comments.

Critics say the cost of clear-cutting to the community is too high.

"There is wildlife that relies on these trees because this is a very urbanized environment, especially around here," Ginny Maier, co-founder of Stop the Canal Clear-Cut, said. "They help fight global warming. They provide a barrier for noise for people who live below the canal. They provide a privacy barrier for people who live along the canal. There are lots of value to those trees, and we think they’re worth saving and protecting."

The Canal Corporation says clearing vegetation is necessary for safety, to let engineers inspect along the water, and to keep tree roots from undermining the banks of the canal.

People who live along the canal say the authority hasn’t explored enough alternatives to clear-cutting.

There are two ways to submit written comments before 5 p.m. on Sept. 5: