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Great Lakes Commission, partners celebrate completion of Buffalo River habitat restoration projects

Jul 30, 2018
Press Release

Buffalo, NY – The Great Lakes Commission (GLC), U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (NY-26), Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, and others celebrated the completion of the Buffalo River Habitat Restoration Project at an event today. Eight project sites have been restored since 2013, enhancing nearly two miles of shoreline and 20 acres of fish and wildlife habitat along the lower Buffalo River. Work was led by the GLC in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), implemented by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, and funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

“The Buffalo River, which was once declared ‘biologically dead,’ is now thriving, thanks to this critical restoration work,” said Rep. Higgins, who serves on the bipartisan Great Lakes Task Force. “Congratulations to all the federal, state and local partners involved in this effort. In Buffalo, we’ve seen firsthand that Great Lakes restoration leads to economic revitalization. We must continue funding the GLRI to support communities like Buffalo across like Great Lakes basin.”

“We are grateful to all our partners for their work on this project,” said John Stine, chair of the GLC and commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “Together we’ve created more natural and stable shorelines and helped treat stormwater, control invasive species and reduce erosion and sediment into the river. This work is supporting the city of Buffalo’s incredible turnaround and we’re excited to see what’s next.”

“This work has been successful because of the strong partnership between NOAA, the Great Lakes Commission, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and our other partners,” said John Catena, regional supervisor for NOAA’s Restoration Center in the Northeast and Great Lakes. “NOAA is proud to continue supporting the environmental and economic revitalization of our Great Lakes.”

Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper stated: "For nearly 30 years, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has carried the community vision for the restoration and protection of the Buffalo River. Our organization was founded as a guardian of the Buffalo River, and from the beginning our mission has been dedicated to seeking out partners, projects and tens of millions of dollars to make the restoration vision a reality. The cooperative partnerships formed over the last decade with entities like the Great Lakes Commission, NOAA, EPA, NYSDEC, the Army Corps, Honeywell, and numerous private sector consultants, have allowed our community to begin to reclaim our impaired waterways. The international success story of our beloved Buffalo River continues to be written, and through the many years of dedicated service of the Waterkeeper team and these partners, together we mark another milestone in the restoration of this once dead river."

In 1987, following decades of heavy industrialization, the Buffalo River was declared a Great Lakes Area of Concern (AOC). Work to restore habitat along the river began in 1997. The eight restoration projects led by the GLC (Buffalo Motor and Generator Corp., NYSDEC Ohio St. Boat Launch, Toe of Katherine St. Peninsula, Blue Tower Turning Basin, Buffalo Color Peninsula, RiverBend Phase I and II, and Old Bailey Woods) are expected to address the fish and wildlife habitat related river impairments and contribute to the formal removal of the Buffalo River from the list of AOCs. All eight projects have been completed; monitoring and post-restoration management will continue throughout the summer with all project work anticipated to be completed by fall 2018.