Waterkeeper has recently completed two planning efforts that serve as blueprints for habitat restoration and conservation in both the Niagara River watershed and Niagara River Greenway.
Both efforts followed the Conservation Action Planning (CAP) process similar to that utilized for the Lake Ontario Watershed, the Lake Erie Watershed, and the Niagara River Watershed in Canada.
The CAP process uses a science-based model for evaluating biodiversity features in terms of landscape context, condition, size, and other variables to help rate the health status of each feature.
Mapping analyses, data collection, existing regional documents, and stakeholder input are other elements that assisted in the development of both efforts. The results of both plans are intended for use by local stakeholders and municipalities. By reviewing the proposed conservation strategies and actions, stakeholders can identify areas of synergy with their goals and utilize the results to inform and refine those goals, support funding applications for conservation projects in an ecosystem or watershed context, educate constituencies, and strengthen and enhance local partnerships. More information about each of these efforts can be found below.
Niagara River Habitat Conservation Strategy
Completed in 2014, this document identifies critical habitats and priority actions for the 900,000+ acre Niagara River watershed. Funding for this effort was provided by the 2010 US Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The completed document serves as a regional blueprint for habitat restoration and conservation, identifying best-bet opportunities to positively impact water quality. A major priority action identified in the final document focuses on the protection of headwater forests along with the first and second order streams they nurture. Headwater forests are an essential part of a functional river landscape, which includes the aquatic habitats needed to sustain and rebuild our fresh water fisheries and improve the quality of our drinking water sources.