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Protecting water at its source.

We strive to protect the undeveloped headwater forests and wetlands that serve as a filter for drinking water flowing into Lake Erie, the Niagara River, and Lake Ontario. By preserving this critical acreage, the health of the entire region will be protected for future generations.

It’s imperative that we protect the BEST of what remains in the Niagara River Watershed.

What Are the Headwaters?

The source, or headwaters, of a river or stream is the farthest place in that river or stream from its beginning. The upstream region within a watershed and the source water for tributary streams.

Why Is Source Water Protection Important?

The greatest opportunities to preserve our fresh water are available where large areas of intact landscapes remain undisturbed — the headwaters.

As this water travels downstream, through our rivers and streams, towards the Great Lakes, it faces pollutants and barriers. It’s important to protect the area where water is least-impacted first to give it the best chance of maintaining its quality. These areas support a direct relationship between water quality and the overall health of local drinking water aquifers as well as the resiliency of the entire downstream Great Lakes watershed. Faced with uncertain climate change scenarios, we must be protective of those lands with potential to withstand additional climate pressures.
What are the Challenges in protecting headwaters?

A challenge facing the Niagara River Watershed is minimal land protection effort combined with a lack of awareness of the importance of source water protections at the local community level.

Currently, 60% of the watershed exists in undeveloped headwater forests and wetlands, yet only 13% of lands in the watershed are protected from future development. It’s imperative that we protect the best of what remains.

How can Communities help in conservation? 

Local communities play a major role in the implementation of land conservation initiatives. By building up community resources and supporting local leaders in land protection and restoration initiatives, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper aims to protect clean water at its source.

A community’s ability to access clean, fresh water is a critical driver to achieve sustainable community growth, well-being, and economic prosperity.

Explore the Headwaters

If you want to experience our local headwaters, consider visiting the below locations.

Eighteenmile Creek Park
Beaver Meadow
Erie County Forest
Sprague Brook County Park
Franklin Gulf County Park

We are grateful to the Erie County Parks and Forestry Department for their management and maintenance in these Headwater areas. Thanks to the Buffalo Audobon Society who has been a great steward of Beaver Meadow and the surrounding wetlands that make up that area.

The Latest

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is communicating with municipal officials and local leaders in the headwater forest communities to raise awareness of this challenge and discuss land protection strategies. Learn more about the Niagara River Watershed.

Interested in Supporting the Headwaters?

Donate to the Headwaters

Our initiative is to protect water at its source. Help us by donating.

Other Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Initiatives

Education & Engagement

Water Revitalization

Living Shorelines

Scajaquada Creek