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Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Higgins: Ohio Street habitat restoration project underway along Buffalo River

Tue, Oct 17th 2017 08:40 pm
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Ohio Street boat launch. (Submitted)
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Ohio Street boat launch. (Submitted)
Federal, state & local partnership on restoration spurs economic renaissance, recreational opportunities along Ohio Street Corridor
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Congressman Brian Higgins and state and federal partners provided an up-close look Monday on the quickly progressing habitat restoration at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Ohio Street boat launch. Through the investment of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding, this popular park is being enhanced to include improved wildlife habitat and public access to the Buffalo River along the Ohio Street corridor.
"Remediation of the Buffalo River has been active for nearly a decade, however we are finally at the stage of this effort where the restoration work is becoming more visible," said Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. "Not only are we physically improving the landscape and aesthetics of the riverfront, but the shoreline restoration and upland meadow habitats will bring new life and health to this once-dead river. None of the work at eight different sites would have happened if it wasn't for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the dedicated local, state and federal partners."
Higgins said, "Ohio Street is a national example of the economic opportunities that come with federal investments in infrastructure and clean water. Just a few short years ago, there was very little activity on this section of the Buffalo River. Today, thanks to Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper's leadership in river restoration, and an $11 million investment that transformed Ohio Street from a crumbling industrial roadway into a beautiful riverfront parkway, we have new restaurants, residential living and public parks and paths up and down Ohio Street. This project continues investments in natural resources driving private sector investment and public enthusiasm along Ohio Street."
The habitat restoration project at boat launch will transform the flat, mowed grass areas into a better-structured pollinator meadow for wildlife to thrive. The site design is intended to enhance fishing access and picnic areas with seat walls and plantings for the public to enjoy. The area will be planted with basswood trees, an ecologically and culturally important tree species to the region. In addition, dogwood, milkweed, beebalm and asters will be planted to support stressed pollinator species. Pollinator plants are currently rare along the Buffalo River, so increasing their presence will naturally attract more butterflies, birds and bats into the area.
"This innovative project is another important piece in the continued revitalization of the Buffalo River," said Abby Snyder, regional director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. "DEC applauds Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper's efforts and we look forward to continued collaboration with all partners to restore this important resource."
Beginning in 2013, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has partnered with the Great Lakes Commission in order to administer funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to restore habitat along nearly two miles of shoreline and 20 acres of habitat at eight project sites along the Buffalo River. The goal of the GLC/NOAA partnership is to restore habitat in Great Lakes areas of concern - toxic hotspots in the Great Lakes. Up to $70 million from GLRI is being directed to key sites needing restoration across the Great Lakes Basin.
"We are proud to work with local, state and federal partners to restore areas challenged by historic pollution across the Great Lakes, including Buffalo River," said Tom Crane, interim executive director of the GLC. "Restoration generates both environmental and economic benefits by creating jobs, providing new recreational opportunities, and improving quality of life."
GLRI is a multiyear, multiagency effort to clean up pollution, improve shorelines, combat invasive species and restore fish and wildlife habitat in the Great Lakes basin. Since the program began, the federal government has invested nearly $40 million in Great Lakes funding into the Buffalo River corridor in a variety of projects that will help to remove the area from the list of Great Lakes areas of concern.
The Great Lakes Commission is an interstate compact agency that represents, advises and assists its member states and provinces by fostering dialogue, developing consensus, facilitating collaboration and speaking with a unified voice to advance collective interests and responsibilities to promote economic prosperity and environmental protection, and to achieve the balanced and sustainable use of Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin water resources. For more information on the Great Lakes Commission, visit http://www.glc.org/about/
The GLRI was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world: the Great Lakes. For more information on projects and priorities, visit https://www.glri.us/
For more information about Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, visit www.BNWaterkeeper.org or contact Jennifer Fee at [email protected], or 716-852-7483, ext. 13.

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