Landowners’ group joins West Canada defense

There is news from the West Canada Creek. A new streamside landowners’ association has asked for per

There is news from the West Canada Creek. A new streamside landowners’ association has asked for permission to join forces with the state Canal Corp. in its court battle with the local water authority.

The Mohawk Valley Regional Water Authority wants to help itself to more of the West Canada’s water — the equivalent of 75 cubic feet per second, about one-quarter of its flow under ideal summer conditions — to run water lines and encourage development in Herkimer and Oneida counties. The Canal Corp. and a company that owns hydropower plants on the creek aren’t inclined to give up any more water.

None of these entities cares about trout or trout fishing, but the landowners’ group, West Canada Riverkeepers, does. The potential for damage to fishing and other recreational enjoyment of the creek from the water authority’s plan is the group’s reason for joining the lawsuit.

“From my long experience fishing the lower reach [the creek below Hinckley Lake, where most of the trout fishing takes place], I believe its value as a leading brown trout fishery cannot be sustained if the normal levels of flow I have seen over the years are not maintained, especially during low-flow summer months,” said Riverkeepers member Randy Kulig in an affidavit. Kulig is a guide who used to run the Golden Drake fly shop in Middleville.

Thomas Zembrzuski of Poland, a retired hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, said in another affidavit that his “professional opinion” is that the water authority’s plans would impact the creek.

None of this will affect the aspect of the management of the West Canada that I complain about most — the way the power company abruptly increases and decreases the flow of the creek for power generation. And it feels weird to want to side with the Canal Corp., which almost ruined the creek in the fall of 2007 with reckless diversions of water for the Erie Canal.

But anything that prevents further exploitation of the West Canada is OK with me. You can always drill wells or build (or enlarge) reservoirs to provide water for drinking or boating. You cannot build a trout stream. The West Canada is an irreplaceable natural resource.

By the way, the lawyer filing the motion to intervene for the West Canada Riverkeepers is Thomas Whyatt of White Plains, the orig­inal Hudson Riverkeeper back in 1973.


The Fly Fishing Show returns to Somerset, N.J., this month. One of the biggest and best-attended (depending on weather and who’s in the NFL playoffs) shows on the eastern seaboard, it’s a humongous toy store for kids like us.

The show will run the weekend of Jan. 23-25: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Garden State Convention Center, Exit 10 of I-287.

A nice addition this year is that the Federation of Fly Fishers will offer free instruction in fly casting, knot tying and fly-tying at its booth. To see this year’s lineup of fly-fishing gurus, seminars, demonstrations and exhibitors, visit

Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at [email protected]

Categories: Sports


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