Date of Submission

Spring 2020

Academic Program

Environmental and Urban Studies

Project Advisor 1

Myra Armstead

Project Advisor 2

Robyn Smyth, Monique Segarra

Abstract/Artist's Statement

For decades after industrialization and urbanization in its vicinity, Onondaga Lake in central New York State was considered "the most polluted lake in America." Recently, however, the system was declared recovered and ready for human use. Honeywell International Inc. – supervised by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the United States Environmental Protection Agency – and their partners completed considerable clean-up in the last twenty years. Efforts included dredging, capping, and habitat enhancements. While these efforts have led to renewed ecosystem services, the endpoints of ecological restoration are inherently unclear. Prompted by inconsistent theory and practice of restoration, this study investigates how opinions among and within stakeholder groups – Honeywell and Associates, Non-Governmental Organizations, Academic Institutions, and Governmental Agencies – vary in the case of Onondaga Lake. Via analysis of qualitative and semi-quantitative data pulled from a series of interviews, this study examines the extent to which criteria of Onondaga Lake's restoration were met and recommends further management actions. Circumstances are complicated by Onondaga Lake's long history and this study found perceptions of ecological restoration were different according to personal and professional experiences with the lake over time, which rest upon diverse values and interests. Results show the complexity of ecological restoration procedures, including the determination of restoration targets and goals, success metrics, methods to be employed, and how to assess progress. An adaptive management approach is endorsed for future restoration work.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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