A three-year long Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Strategic Initiative assessing and identifying the critical habitats for our 900,000+ acre Niagara River watershed was recently completed through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The completed Strategy serves as a regional blueprint for habitat restoration and conservation, identifying best-bet opportunities to positively impact water quality. Read press release.
Scope. Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is currently developing a fish and wildlife habitat conservation strategy for the Niagara River watershed. The geographic scope of this two-year project is the tributary area of the Niagara River within Western New York – an area of about 900,000 acres. Click here for a map of the watershed. The effort is supported by a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant.
Mission Statement and Goal. “Building upon completed and ongoing regional habitat conservation work, restore and conserve native ecological communities and biological integrity by promoting healthy, self-sustaining aquatic ecosystem functions within the Niagara River watershed.”
Download here a summary of goals from existing programs, including the Niagara River Remedial Action Plan, the Niagara River Greenway Plan, and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission objectives for the upper and lower river.
The emphasis on aquatic ecosystem functions focuses our watershed analysis on the tributary corridors, using the “active river area” model developed by The Nature Conservancy. We are developing this base map now.
In connection with the Niagara Regional Habitat Conservation Strategy, the project team has finalized a draft map of the Active River Area (ARA) of the Niagara River watershed. The ARA map visually displays the land areas within the watershed that are necessary to accommodate the physical and ecological processes of river and stream function. An important tool in the habitat restoration planning process, the project team will use the ARA map to identify opportunities for habitat conservation and restoration on the land which can directly contribute to overall tributary and river health. A copy of the draft ARA map can be found here.
Project Team. The effort is led by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and includes a Technical Advisory Committee of Niagara region habitat and wildlife experts and a Stakeholder Group of municipal officials, resource-based groups (anglers, botanists, birders), and citizen groups. Click here for a list of technical advisers.
How will this be done? The Niagara River Habitat Conservation Strategy will use a Conservation Action Planning (CAP) process similar to those utilized for the Lake Ontario Watershed, the Lake Erie Watershed, and the Niagara River Watershed in Canada. The CAP process uses a science-based model for evaluating biodiversity features in terms of landscape context, condition, size, and other variables to help rate the health status of each feature. An overview of the CAP process can be read here. Download an overview of the active river area and draft biodiversity features here.
For more information:
Habitat Project Director
Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER