Restoration underway to save forest, wetland and recreation at Sandy Bottom Park

HONEOYE — A mess now with mud, fallen trees and stacks of mamouth neon-coded logs, Sandy Bottom Park is on course to become a restored wetland recreation area free of a tree-killing beetle. The 114-acre park at the north end of Honeoye Lake is infested with emerald ash borer, an exotic invasive bug destroying ash trees nationwide.

Just recently, one big infested tree between a garage and ball field in the park collapsed — luckily away from the building and away from the field where the kids play. Safety is a major reason for the project managed in accordance with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. 

During a walk in the park Monday, Richmond Town Supervisor Caroline Sauers showed the damage that has decimated the core of ash trees that make up the bulk of this wetland forest. With 70 to 80 percent of Sandy Bottom Park ash trees, it will take several years to complete the restoration that involves professionals and volunteers. But it will create a safe and habitat-friendly park, and one that will attract people across the region, Sauers said.

The logging operation underway now should be completed this spring. The stacks of marked logs will be hauled away, with most going intially to Pennsylvania and, from there, sold on the foreign market due to regulations and market demands, the supervisor said. Some logs are going for firewood.

A few of the healthier ash trees remain, having been inoculated against the ash borer. They are good shade trees, on the beach and over the shuffleboard court. Sandy Bottom Park offers a nature trail with boardwalk, foot path, snowmobile trail, ball fields and courts for shuffleboard and pickleball. The park will eventually have new signs with information about the history and wildlife of the park.

The DEC's Trees for Tribs Program will fund the planting of native trees to replace the removed ash trees, with new varieties including maples and sycamores among others. The town of Richmond received $18,598 from the Trees for Tribs Program that promotes streamside tree and shrub plantings to prevent erosion, increase flood water retention, improve habitat, and protect water quality in areas statewide.

In Honeoye, two additional related projects getting underway this summer involve bank stabilization and stream restoration on Mill Creek and shoreline work at Sandy Bottom.

The Mill Creek project, to start this June, involves the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ontario County Soil & Water Conservation District partnering to reduce sediment in the Mill Creek stream channel. This too, will promote wildlife habitat and safe walking trails.

In July, the shoreline adjacent to the swim beach at Sandy Bottom Park will get a lift. About 150 feet of shoreline will be stabilized through construction of a series of soil lifts, protected by erosion control fabric and native plantings. Large rocks will be placed in the water in front of these structures. The project will be administered through Ontario County Soil & Water Conservation District.

Sauers mentioned the hard work of volunteers who are helping with the transformation of Sandy Bottom Park. Upcoming events invite anyone who would like to join in planting activities.

Events include: Arbor Day, April 26; Love Your Park Day, May 4; National Trails Day, June 1; and Make a Difference Day, Oct. 26.

For details and updates, visit the town’s website: https://townrichmond.digitaltowpath.org:10135/content/