© 2023 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Murphy's Island bike path project moves forward, out of Bald Eagle's way

Greg Craybas
A picture of a bald eagle above Onondaga Lake from a 2014 display at the Honeywell’s Onondaga Lake Visitors Center in Geddes.";

Onondaga County lawmakers have agreed to go ahead and spend $1.5 million building a bike trail extension on Murphy’s Island as part of the Loop the Lake trail project. Legislators have one request - that the county make accommodations for bald eagles that roost in the area.

Alison Kocek, president of Onondaga Audubon, presented lawmakers with almost 500 signatures from bird lovers worried about what a bike path would do to the eagles. She says it’s one of the only available spots in the immediate area that has large trees where the majestic birds can roost that’s also near an ice-free zone of the lake where they can forage for food in harsh winters.

"Our big concern is the trail causing disturbance to these birds, and harassed to the point where they are either unable to obtain food because they are disturbed away from their food source or they actually will leave the area," Kocek said. 

To appease these concerns, Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says lawmakers have agreed to ask the county to place the trail on the end of the island next to the CSX railroad tracks.

"It doesn’t really get into the heart of where the eagles like to roost, and we agreed that’s a legitimate concern," McMahon said. 

Kocek says Onondaga Audubon would prefer no trail be placed on Murphy’s Island, however, they say the compromise is acceptable.

The project can begin after state and federal environmental approvals, and will include remediation of some polluted areas of the island.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.