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Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Launches New Effort to Protect Over 400,000 Acres of Headwater Lands

“Circuit rider” program will benefit nearly 80 communities in the Niagara River Watershed by accelerating protection and management of critical headwaters.

Buffalo, New York – Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) through the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program, a partnership that also includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as funders. The partnership’s goal is to accelerate the pace of proactive watershed protection in the United States through conservation and projects that provide drinking water, flood risk reduction, and an array of economic and environmental benefits. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper received the top award of $300,000 over three years and will benefit numerous communities in Western New York. Sixteen total awards were given across 18 states totaling $2.75 million.

The project will create a regional “circuit rider” program, a model that has been successfully implemented in other communities around the country. This will allow Waterkeeper to engage up to 80 communities in Western New York, accelerating protection and management measures on nearly 433,000 acres of underdeveloped headwater lands, and advancing regional priorities. The Niagara River Watershed is over 1,400 square miles, contributes to the drinking water supply for 11 million people along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and supports significant water-based economies and quality of life amenities.

Deputy Executive Director Kerrie Gallo said “This significant investment from the Endowment presents a first-of-its-kind opportunity to protect Western New York drinking water supplies at their source. This unique program will provide assistance to municipalities, at no cost of their own, in order to accelerate the pace of regional watershed protection. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper will be working closely with many municipal leaders and agencies to make progress on protecting our region’s fragile headwater communities.”

“Local partners such as Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper know best how to work with their communities to protect their water sources and watersheds” said Carlton Owen, the Endowment’s President and CEO. “We and our partners at USEPA and NRCS are very pleased to be able to support their work, which will benefit the people, economy, and environment of Western New York.”

Work on the project is expected to commence in early Fall. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is currently in the process of coordinating with municipalities. Any municipality or agency in the Niagara River Watershed that is interested in learning more about this program should contact Jeanne Beiter through email at or via telephone at 716-852-7483 ex. 17.

Click here for more information on the Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Program.

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-reliant communities –

Buffalo Niagara WATERKEEPER’s mission is to protect and restore our water and surrounding ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations. We PROTECT clean water. We RESTORE the health of ecosystems. We CONNECT people to the water. We INSPIRE economic growth and community engagement.

CLICK HERE – for full press release