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2011 City Guide: Riverkeeper

This season Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper will be implementing a Habitat Restoration Program on the Niagara River in an effort to restore a riparian shoreline along much of the waterway. Their community-based program, funded by the Niagara River Greenway Commission, will work with private landowners in an effort to reinstate a widespread and ecologically beneficial shoreline.

Only thirty percent of the watershed is currently forested and just three percent is grass and shrub-land. Volunteers will plant trees and shrubs and build rain gardens on properties along the river, building a living buffer that will improve both water quality and quantity. “Our buffers intend to eradicate invasive species and plant native species, improve habitat for wildlife, and improve the health of the river,” says Larry Brooks, Riverkeeper’s Water Restoration Coordinator. “In many places the river is developed with hardened shorelines and invasive plants. The riparian forest buffers improve both the aesthetics of the river and community sentiment.”

The first of the habitat reclamation projects was completed last summer on Tonawanda Island in North Tonawanda. Volunteers planted ninety native trees and shrubs and 200 wildflowers and grasses, transforming the island into a rain garden, meadow, and forest area.

The Riverkeepers hope to complete sixteen more restorations this spring and summer, with the help of a small army of volunteers. If you’re interested in being part of the hands-on restoration project, they want you. The Keepers are currently in search of landowners interested in having their shoreline be a part of the project, as well as volunteers of all shapes and sizes to help with implementation throughout the spring and summer. Find out more about the program on RiverKeeper’s website: bnriverkeeper.org.

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