Important Bird Areas

Spotlight on Onondaga Lake

A story of recovery and renewal.

Onondaga Lake's recovery is a story of successful partnerships, and the transformation of an entire community. As a member of the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps, Audubon New York is helping to restore this unique habitat.

Located near the major urban area of Syracuse, Onondaga Lake is undergoing an extensive cleanup to remove contaminants and rebuild natural habitats along the Lake’s tributaries and southwestern shoreline. Dozens of acres of wetlands have already been restored, allowing for the return of more than 50 species of wildlife.

Honeywell, the party responsible for the cleanup process, is planting more than a million plants, shrubs, and trees on 50 acres along the Lake’s shoreline. Additional environmental improvement projects include Onondaga County upgrading its municipal wastewater treatment system.

These efforts have resulted in the most significant improvement of the Lake’s water quality in decades, with up to a 95% reduction in certain contaminants. As Common Mergansers and Bald Eagles return to winter at Onondaga Lake, hundreds of community volunteers surrounding this Audubon IBA have joined the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps to act as environmental stewards and advocates. They perform vital planning and hands-on activities, including extensive habitat restoration projects.

The Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps, headed by the Montezuma Audubon Center, recieved an Environmental Champion Award (EPA) in May, 2015.