“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”  – Native American Proverb

A forest canopy can help reduce stream temperatures. Trees help hold banks in place during rising winter waters.Leaf litter helps re-fuel the ecosystem.

For millennia our planet has relied upon towering forests for sustaining bio-diversity and maintaining clean water.  Forests have been a leading force in perpetuating earth’s water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles.  These balanced cycles are crucial for the prosperity of terrestrial organisms and for the survival of fertile, clean waterways.  Without forests, earth’s climatic systems, which rely upon specific amounts of water and carbon dioxide, become unstable.  One result of this unbalance can be climate change that can lead to the extinction of some of plants and wildlife species.  Human activities cause changes to these natural cycles.  Since the onset of industrialization, our environment has been slowly degrading from a lush and verdant system of checks and balances, into a polluted, infertile, mismanaged, and unsustainable series of waste dumping channels scattered throughout concrete jungles.  The main reason for this catastrophe is the widespread removal of forests, especially within riparian areas.  A waterway without surrounding vegetation never fulfills its productive potential.  Now that populations are realizing the holistic benefits of clean waterways, people are restoring our forests by planting trees and conserving existing timber resources.  Continuous forested areas are required to restore our planet back to its former grandeur, and waterways back to their life-creating splendor.

Do you want to help restore our planet back to its former grandeur? Do you want to help our local waterways fulfill their productive potential?

Come and join the RestoreCorps volunteers, a group dedicated to the restoration of natural riparian habitats. This is your opportunity to contribute your time and skills working towards a more prosperous and sustainable environment. Between April and November 2011, RestoreCorps volunteers will be involved in a combination of the following activities at 16 different waterfront sites through Buffalo Niagara:

  • Planting native grasses, trees and shrubs.
  • Removing invasive species.
  • Creating more desirable natural habitats for local wildlife.
  • Removing accumulated debris and trash.
  • Stabilizing shorelines to prevent further erosion.
  • Building rain gardens.

    RestoreCorps volunteers worked hard at the habitat restoration on Tonawanda Island in 2010.

Come and meet like-minded people, get outdoors and get some exercise, all while making a lasting contribution to one of our region’s greatest natural resources, our water. No experience necessary, we will teach you everything you need to know on the day!

Some items you may wish to bring:

  • Work boots
  • Long pants (preferred)
  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Jacket (optional depending on temperature, wind and chance of rain)
  • Hat
  • Change of clothes
  • Snacks
  • Sun Screen
  • Camera

Volunteers should not bring any type of power tool.

We will provide:

  • All training and technical knowledge
  • Tools
  • Plants
  • Gloves
  • Drinking water
  • Snacks

Volunteers are required to complete a Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper waiver form prior to any restoration work.  Forms will be provided on the day of the planting. The information completed on the volunteer forms will be kept confidential.

Anyone can enjoy this habitat restoration experience:

  • Families (children can participate with adult supervision)
  • Corporate Volunteers
  • Students (UB CORE members)
  • Community Service
  • Service Learning
  • Scouts
  • Fraternities and Sororities
  • Retirees
  • Anglers
  • More!!!!

We can’t wait to see you out with us, working to restore Buffalo’s green infrastructure!!


Your Restoration Experience…

Sun setting over the Niagara River

Sun setting over the Niagara River

Volunteers will be needed for about 4 hours for each RestoreCorps planting event.

Prior to a RestoreCorps event, all volunteers are required to fill out an application form and will be contacted for events based on their availability as indicated on the form. Directions will be provided to the restoration site.

The morning of the scheduled volunteer day we will meet at our designated site to begin restoration work.  These sites will vary, as they are located throughout the Buffalo Niagara region.  Once volunteers have completed their Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper waiver forms, we will begin a brief orientation of the days work.

Orientation will include our objectives and techniques often used in restoration work.  A clear set of goals will be laid out for what RestoreCorps intends to accomplish by the end of the day.  We will then break the group into smaller teams and begin working.  Each team will be a crucial part in the overall success of the habitat restoration.

Volunteers will typically be involved in planting, pruning, mulching, tree wrapping, and watering.  Native plant species will be planted; invasive plant species will be removed.  Clearing the land of all noxious and invasive plant species is a crucial step.  The RIVERKEEPER staff will help volunteers identify specific plant species to be eradicated, to safely promote the healthy growth of native vegetation. Volunteers will also be building rain gardens and helping to stabilize riverbanks. Contractors, together with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Erie and Niagara counties will do heavy landscaping.

Eventually these small plant installments will grow into varying layers of vegetation, including a large forest canopy, defined understory, and meadow.  Waterways surrounded by native vegetation are healthy and productive ways to promote diverse animal, plant, and fish species.  Initially, the trees we plant may not appear large, but within a decade they will begin to take hold and provide noticeable benefits to the waterway ecosystem.  Small steps taken today can lead to great success in the future.

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For more information, please contact Jarrett Steffen, our Volunteer Coordinator, at or call (716) 852-7483 ext 19.

Trees are a crucial part of a healthy waterway

Trees are a crucial part of a healthy waterway

Why Restore?

Without efforts from RestoreCorps volunteers like you, the following can happen to our waterways:

  • Excess sediment and toxins enter our waterways.  This can have a profound impairment on local wildlife, and can have lasting effects on municipal drinking water consumption and human health degradation.
  • Water temperatures can increase, which decreases the capacity of water to hold oxygen.  Warmer water also increases the solubility of nutrients such as phosphorus, which can lead to eutrophication and toxic conditions.  Large established trees cool water temperature through shade.  Trees also intercept nutrients and sediment that cloud the water. All improve water flow and quality.
  • Stormwater runoff is never able to recharge underground aquifers through slow percolation.  The water remains on the surface and often finds its way into storm water sewer systems.   When combined sewer systems get inundated with excess storm water they are forced to release contaminated water back into local waterways.  This contributes to both greater amounts of pollution in our waterways and increased costs of storm water management.
  • The onset of Global Warming is sped up.  Trees and other vegetation can mitigate the urban heat island effect because they intercept solar radiation (provide shade), and cool the air through evapotranspiration.  By cooling, trees reduce evaporative emissions from vehicles and other fuel storage, and by cooling homes and offices trees reduce power generation emissions.  Forests also remove and store vast amounts of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas contributor.

    Fresh water pours through forests and over rocks.

    Fresh water pours through forests on its way to the sea

  • Specific species populations can grow out of control.Without balanced food webs, which keep many species in check from becoming too abundant, certain organisms can become disastrous for the ecosystem, especially insects.  Forest buffers, when properly installed, lead to varying layers of vegetation.  This results in greater habitat for many forms of wildlife, especially birds.  In an Integrated Pest Management system insectivorous birds are used in an ecologically sustainable way to manage pests.
  • Human populations can become disconnected from their natural ancestry.  A picturesque riparian nature scene can help with stress reduction, and can help lead to a well-balanced sense of being.  Individuals and community groups who work together to plant trees and restore riparian forest buffers develop important conservation values and foster community spirit.
  • Riverbank erosion will be sped up, which leads to further soil erosion and greater in-stream sediment loading into the waterway.  Large trees however, slow erosion by stabilizing riverbanks.
  • Fish populations dwindle.  This negatively affects the fishery industry and also recreation for anglers.  Forest buffers enhance fish habitat as water quality improves.  Leaf litter positively affects the quality and diversity of macro-invertebrates, which are a crucial link in fish food webs.



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