Canal Forest Restoration Project

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn” 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Canal Forest Restoration Project (CFRP) is on a mission to restore the presence of white oak and white pine trees in New York State’s Canal Regions.

The forested landscape of New York State was significantly changed with construction of the canals. Forests were felled for excavation of the canals and grading of their towpaths, which subsequently increased the amount of forested land that was converted into farmlands, industrial sites, and cities. This left the region devoid of forested landscapes, but white oak and white pine trees were of special importance to the canal system because they produced lumber ideal for ship and barrel building.

Certain areas along the canals have begun their return towards a natural state, providing aesthetic characteristics, environmental benefits, and habitat for plants and animals. As this natural succession progresses, it is imperative that CFRP assist to ensure regeneration of white oaks and white pines.


1) The overarching goal of CFRP is to replenish the region with a future of white oak and white pine trees of ecological proportion and cultural significance. In three hundred years, there will be a representative presence of self-propagating white oaks and white pines of great stature serving as a stable source of carbon capture. They will hold a special place not only in the forested landscape, but within human culture and health, as well.

2) In ten years, CFRP should foster strong awareness and appreciation of the unique characteristics and indispensable value of white oaks and white pines among residents and visitors of the canal region. Stewardship of these tree species in the canal landscape will be organized by CFRP and assisted by volunteers who will plant and care for young trees and share their appreciation and knowledge of the importance of these trees as a component of the forest and future.

3) In the coming years, CFRP will collect seeds, produce seedlings for plantings, and engage the support and collaboration of individuals and organizations in the canal region. This will occur largely through educational outreach about the canal’s history, the tree species prominent role in that history, and how our future will benefit from the presence of this tree.

Contact Information

Website: “”

Oswego Rice Creek Field Station Site: “”


Program Director: George Pauk