A landmark habitat restoration project will continue at Joseph Davis State Park in Lewiston.
Supported by more than $350,000 in grant funds from federal programs and national funders, the work will provide high-quality habitat for resident and neo-tropical migratory birds.
With its natural shoreline along the Niagara River and diverse terrestrial habitats, Joseph Davis State Park has long been identified as a key target for preservation and management. The 320-acre park stands out as one of the few large, relatively undeveloped open spaces along an otherwise extensively developed river corridor. Its undeveloped nature and locations along an established migratory corridor between lakes Erie and Ontario also make the park stand out as an important stopover habitat for migrating birds seeking a place to feed and rest.
"Joseph Davis State Park is part of the Niagara River Corridor Important Bird Area," said Loren Smith, executive director of the Buffalo Audubon Society. "It is a stopping point for birds as they fly from their winter habitats in Central and South America to their nesting grounds in the northern hemisphere." Birds such as American Woodcock, Willow Flycatcher, and Blue-winged Warbler depend upon the habitats found at Joseph Davis State Park as they feed, breed, and migrate across the Americas.
Buffalo Audubon notes the project will:
•Enhance and protect approximately 130 acres of critical shrub land and wetland bird habitat along the lower Niagara River corridor and restore sensitive bird habitat that further improve the ability of the corridor to attract resident and migratory bird populations;
•Enhance and perpetuate the site as a bird conservation area by providing habitats for breeding, shelter, migration, and sustenance of resident and neo-tropical migratory wild bird populations;
•Implement an invasive species control and management plan based on site surveys and mapping;
•Benefit priority bird species by improving forested wetland, shrub-wetland and shrub-early successional habitats.
The first phase of the project involves the removal of invasive plant species including honeysuckle, common reed (Phragmites), and buckthorn, which provide low-quality habitat for birds, along with the selective removal of younger trees to promote the development of valuable shrub habitat. As fields turn into forests, important grassland and shrub habitat is lost. Subsequent work will plant native shrubs and grasses in order to provide high-quality food, nest sites, and habitat for birds.
The initial phase of this project will involve the removal of invasive species from large areas within the eastern portion of the park. This will be followed by over-seeding with native grasses before native shrub species are planted in the fall of 2013. Work on the project will be halted from June 1-15, to correspond with the primary breeding season of shrub land bird species.
Initial mapping of plant communities, invasive species, and the development of the habitat restoration plan are supported by a $195,550 grant from the Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee to the Buffalo Audubon Society. Subsequent funding for invasive species removal and habitat restoration comes from two sources: $197,585 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Sustain Our Great Lakes Stewardship Grants program and $160,031 from the U.S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service Joint Venture Habitat Restoration and Protection program - part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.