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Rising Lake Ontario threatens New York state parks

Payne Horning
The New York State Office of Parks is working to stabilize the Sandy Island Beach State Park sand dune, which is eroding from the historic water levels in Lake Ontario.

Summer is approaching, but many of New York state's beaches along Lake Ontario are closed.

The rising water levels in the lake are threatening the state's parks, including the Sandy Island Beach State Park in Pulaski. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is trying to save this 17-mile-long sand dune, which is giving way to the battering of historically high water levels. It's also a threat to the private community of about 30 homes located at the end of this sand dune, including resident Margot Wibbe.

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News
This private road by Sandy Island State Park is being threatened by the rising waters of Lake Ontario and Sandy Pond

"This is a historical area that is so beautiful and we’re losing it," Wibbe said. "We’re losing it."

Robert Hiltbrand with the state parks office says they are deploying large sand bags along sandy island beach called trap bags to stabilize the sand dune.

"As far as the state parks that have been impacted, this would be the biggest impact," Hiltbrand said. 

Elsewhere, Hiltbrand says New York state has lost campsites in a couple of parks and some ground around the Thirty Mile Lighthouse at the Golden Hills State Park in Niagara County.

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News
The beach at Selkirk Shores State Park is closed due to the bloated Lake Ontario.

The state's parks are open, but a majority of their boat launches and beaches are currently closed due to flooding. Mexico resident Tom Smith is lamenting that fact as he fishes from shore at the Selkirk Shores State Park in Pulaski.

"Fishing is really good, but you can’t launch your boat anywhere to go out you know," Smith said. "Crazy."