Conserving an Oxbow Wetland; Restoring the Buffalo River
West Seneca’s oxbow wetland on Buffalo Creek is just a few miles upstream from the industrialized Buffalo River, a Great Lakes “Area of Concern.” Download the map here. As one of only three major wetlands in the lower Buffalo River watershed, it is considered a source area for future habitat and species restoration in the AOC. Planning studies over the past 40 years have recommended that the oxbow site be protected.
In 2008, a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) enabled Riverkeeper to embark on a program to begin protecting and restoring the oxbow wetland and adjacent habitat in the stream corridor. Riverkeeper successfully petitioned New York State to regulate the wetland portion of the site, and helped facilitate the transfer of the central 14 acres from private ownership to the Town of West Seneca, with a conservation easement protecting it in perpetuity as a nature preserve.
In partnership with the West Seneca Environmental Commission, SUNY Buffalo’s ERIE (Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange) graduate program, and Ecology and Environment, Inc, Riverkeeper developed a restoration plan available for download here focused on controlling invasives and reintroducing native plant species to the site. To date over 12,000 square feet of Fallopia japonica (Japanese knotweed) and Phragmites australis (Common reed) have been removed using a variety of mechanical methods including digging, repeated cutting, and over-planting with trees, shrubs and wetland grass/wildflower seeds selected for high wildlife value and historical presence at this site.
Riverkeeper prepared a “Watershed Owners Manual” to better prepare Town officials for stream corridor stewardship, and helped the Environmental Commission secure another NFWF grant for the Town to continue implementing the restoration plan. We also produced and distributed a booklet you can download here, “Know Your Backyard,” to educate interested citizens in the Town and in the Buffalo River Watershed on the natural and cultural legacy that is now in their hands.
For more information:
Oxbow Project Director