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New York canals now open for recreational use

J. Stephen Conn
via Flickr
The Erie Canal is part of the 524 miles of canalways in New York State. Fairport sees recreational canal use during navigation season from May to October.

Boaters and water enthusiasts can look forward to new activities as the New York Canal system opens today.

Celebrating their 199th season of operation, New York's canals can now be accessed until October 11. Drawing boaters, paddlers and tourists, the canal system, including the historic Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca and Champlain canals, is operated by the New York State Canal Corporation.

Shane Mahar, the spokesperson for the Canal Corporation, said this is a great day for canal enthusiasts and communities.

“It’s an exciting time, it really is,” Mahar said. “The canal system is really the main street of many communities.”

While the canal systems were historically used for trade and commerce, Mahar said recreational use is now the driving force on canals. Powerboats, paddleboards, canoes, kayaks and jet skis are dominating traffic on the waterways, making canal communities more accessible.

“It’s bringing people to the trails, it’s getting them to experience the canal and visit local communities and downtowns,” Mahar said.

As traffic ramps up Mahar said it is important for boaters and canal users to remain safe and vigilant while on the canals.

“Certainly if you are going to get in a vessel or operate a vessel on a canal, please make sure you have got the proper safety requirements and have taken the courses and have that license to do so,” Mahar said.

Some returning canal users may notice a difference in operational hours on some parts of the canal system, Mahar said this is just a matter of available staff.

“We, like a lot of other trades and a lot of other industries, have been struggling to fill vacancies,” Mahar said.

Canal hours, operations and opportunities can be seen on the canal corporation's website: https://www.canals.ny.gov/index.shtml

Abigail is a temporary WRVO News Reporter/Producer working on regional and digital news stories. She graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2022 where she studied English and Public Relations. Abigail enjoys reading, writing, exploring CNY and spending time with family and friends. Abigail first joined the WRVO team as a student reporter in June 2022.