Canandaigua Lake has many different human dominated land uses and natural land cover within its watershed boundaries. Detailed land use/land cover classifications are available for the entire watershed as a result of the work of Dr. Bruce Gilman, Watershed Council and Ontario County Planning. Watershed land cover falls into the following categories: forest (41%), agriculture (27%), old field/shrub land (16%), residential (8%), wetlands (5%) and commercial (1%). The land cover map clearly shows that land use/land cover are a mosaic of patterns in the watershed.
Forested areas in the watershed are found primarily on steeper slopes in the southern half of the watershed. These areas also have shallow soils that are prone to erosion. Maintaining a forested cover is key to protecting water quality by reducing runoff and sediment. Today, little old growth forest remains in the watershed. The present forests consist of second and third-growth stands of the native tree species, and much is in an early stage of succession.
Agriculture is concentrated along the north and east sides of the watershed with pockets of agricultural land use throughout the rest of the watershed. The current higher profits for row crops such as corn and soybeans along with an influx of Mennonite farmers have opened up more land than had been used in recent years.
Photo: will send as a separate file called farmfield
Residential development is concentrated in the City of Canandaigua, Villages of Naples and Rushville, various hamlets and Bristol Harbour. In addition, a high density of residential development hugs the lake’s shoreline, creating a suburban corridor around the lake. Residential development continues to grow and development trends include the development of “difficult” sites (steep and wet), summer cottage conversion to year-round use, redevelopment of sites (demolish existing structure and re-build), and development of woodland and lake-view parcels. The Town of Canandaigua and to a lesser extent Gorham is experiencing substantial population growth extending from the City of Canandaigua.
Wetlands are a particularly important land cover due to their many beneficial functions, especially protection of water quality. Current wetlands make up approximately 5% of the watershed and are only a fraction of the historic extent in the watershed, as many were filled and/or drained for development and agriculture. The 1,500 acres of Hi Tor marshes at the south end of the lake are a significant resource to the watershed. The wetlands at the north end of the lake were lost to development in late 1800s and early 1900s.
Commercial/industrial development covers less than 1% of the watershed concentrated in the City of Canandaigua and the Village of Naples. However, these sites can pose significant threats if not managed properly.