Our Story’s Overview
For the past 30 years, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has been the guardian of Western New York’s fresh water.
Our mission is four-fold: we PROTECT the water, we RESTORE both the waterways and the surrounding ecosystems, we CONNECT people to their waterways, and we INSPIRE both economic activity along the waterways and community engagement.
In the late 60s, the Buffalo River was officially declared dead. Fast forward to 1989, with not a lot of improvement, and Friends of the Buffalo River is formed. Our organization worked tirelessly for the last three decades, and with many partners, to bring the Buffalo River back to life. It’s a tremendous, largely untold success story that played a large part in the city’s resurgence and renaissance in recent years. The story of the Buffalo River is a tale of caution, determination, hope and resurgence, and our mission going forward is to work to achieve the same successes on our other waterways, as well, in addition to protecting our headwaters throughout the watershed.
Our Life’s Work
Our work covers the Niagara River/Lake Erie Watershed, which spans 1,440 square miles over five counties:
Erie, Niagara, Wyoming, Orleans and Genesee. With over 60 projects in a year, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper currently focuses its work across five initiatives:
Restoring the waterways throughout our watershed, as we have done for the Buffalo River. We want to continue to do the same good work for the rest of the waterways in our watershed, while opening up public access.
Over 80% of the shorelines in the Niagara River Watershed have degradation, and our Living Shorelines initiative restores vital habitats along our waterways, while reducing pollution and flooding concerns.
With nearly 3,000 community members volunteering annually we are actively engaging the community in taking care of its waterways! Our education programs such as Water Academy and Young Environmental Leaders Program are helping to build the next generation of stewards for our water and environment. Additionally, this initiative focuses on access and environmental justice issues for our community. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s success over the last three decades can be credited to our collaborative, partnership approach to the environmental problems our region faces. The people of WNY love their communities, and we’ve found that partnering to find sustainable solutions and restore the health of our waterways and ecosystems yields better results here than trying to force people’s hand. Part of our work is changing the paradigm and the way people think about conservation and sustainability. Looking at the success of the Buffalo River restoration, it is clear that clean water is an economic driver. It pays to invest in our environment.