Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to host public walking tour of site
By Terry Duffy
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper continues to make progress on the Cayuga Creek restoration project in the Town of Niagara.
“We recently completed the restoration phase of the Cayuga Creek Stream and Floodplain Restoration project in the Town of Niagara,” it noted in a press release. “For over a decade, the site has been a regional priority for restoration and protection to help mitigate impairments along the creek, including water quality, habitat, and persistent flooding issues.”
The document continued, “Over many decades, a combination of water pollution, surrounding land use, and creek channel alterations have left the creek’s water quality and habitat in an impaired state, and the surrounding community with persistent and severe flooding issues. Prior to restoration, the section of Cayuga Creek that flowed through this site was channelized, and berms were built on either side of the creek, disconnecting it from its historic floodplain. However, as one of the last remaining undeveloped lands along the creek corridor, this site held significant potential for addressing these issues.”
The 30-acre parcel is located just south of the Niagara Falls Airport and Air Reserve complex. Joseph C. Weber Inc. donated it to the Town of Niagara in 2018, following nearly 10 years of coordinated efforts. The property has since undergone a three-phase rehabilitation intended to reduce flooding and improve community access. Restoration work included rerouting the creek through an entirely new channel to reconnect the stream with its floodplain, while incorporating valuable fish and wildlife habitat.
The property is now owned by the town as a permanent protected site.
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is working with the Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust on conservation easements and adding up to 11 acres of adjacent floodplain forest nearby to the Cayuga Creek footprint. Working with the town, flood mitigation measures and habit restoration are ongoing.
“The Cayuga Creek Stream and Floodplain Restoration project was finally implemented in spring of 2022, and is currently the only project in WNY of this kind seeking to mitigate flooding through channel reconstruction,” Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper said. “With designs now complete and permitting underway, we anticipate that restoration work will continue through the year.”
Project goals for the site include mitigation measures, enabling Cayuga Creek to better handle high-volume flooding events; ongoing habitat creation and improvement such as native planting and the monitoring of invasive species along the creek area; and community engagement, intended to provide public access and educational opportunities and stewardship opportunities.
“BNW is currently seeking funding to complete a full trail system that will provide formal access to this site for enjoyment, as well as educational and stewardship events,” Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper said.
Funding for the project comes from a number of sources, including: Environmental Protection Fund Title 15 – Climate Smart Community Projects, as administered by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Love Canal, 102nd Street and Forest Glen Mobile Home Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration Trustees; the New York Power Authority – Niagara Power Project relicensing settlement, and Fish and Wildlife Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Fund; the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation; Sustain our Great Lakes Program through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; the Host Community Greenway Fund Standing Committee; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the Coors Seltzer Change the Course Partnership.
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper will hold a public walking tour of the Cayuga Creek site from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17. To register for the event, visit https://bnwaterkeeper.salsalabs.org/CayugaCreekTour/index.html.