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North Tonawanda Botanical Garden

Building a diverse mosaic of habitat zones while improving public access and expanding educational opportunities.

The North Tonawanda Botanical Garden Living Shoreline Project aims to restore the former landscape to a more natural and self-sustaining form, utilizing a combination of natural materials, native plants, and bioengineering techniques. The restored condition achieves a seamless transition between the land and water and builds valuable aquatic, riparian, and upland habitats. This project restored about an acre of land, including reclaiming a portion of the parking lot to reduce the amount of impervious surface on site.

Restorative Efforts

Funding for this project was awarded in 2019, and final restoration work was completed at the end of 2021.

The shoreline was pulled back to create a cove along the waterfront.

This important shallow water area now has submerged and emergent aquatic plants that are thriving. Recycled Ash trees from the golf course across the street were placed along the shoreline to help shield the restored area from boat wakes and other erosive forces. In addition to protecting the shoreline, the recycled trees provide basking areas for turtles, perching areas for birds, and in-water habitat for fish and aquatic organisms.

A swale or low-point in the landscape was incorporated in the project design to funnel and drain runoff flowing from the parking lot into the swale areas which were planted with moisture-loving plants.

These plants will absorb and filter nutrients and runoff from the surrounding landscape, improving water quality in Tonawanda Creek.

Much for the former lawn area was transformed into valuable pollinator meadow habitat.

This area was seeded with a variety of native species that will provide blooms throughout the growing season. Native wildflower meadows are not only an attractive component of a Living Shoreline, they also play an important role in the recovery of native bees and other pollinator species by providing pollen sources which are free of pesticides.

In addition to the ecological improvements and restoration, the project improved public access at the site, with educational signage, fully accessible trails and a bridge.

New York Power Authority Greenway Ecological Fund (GEF)
Funder- Living Shoreline Restoration
East Hill Foundation
Funder- Public Access
Canal Corporation
City of North Tonawanda
Collaborator & Land Manager
North Tonawanda Botanical Garden Organization
Project Partner & Steward
Wendel Architecture & Engineering
Design Consultant
Ecological Restoration Inc
Restored Conditions
Provide for more natural shoreline protections to reduce erosion.
Establish much-needed fish spawning and resting habitats along Tonawanda Creek, supporting such species as walleye and northern pike.
Create an adequate riparian buffer environment that supports lower water temperatures and native habitat for numerous wildlife species.
Provide natural green infrastructure that improves water quality in the creek.
Allow for public access within the project area.
Improve the sustainability of the shoreline environment.
The Place

The project area is located at the North Tonawanda Botanical Garden – 1825 Sweeney Street, North Tonawanda, NY.

This 11-acre park includes specimen trees, shrubs and flowers, along with a gazebo for lease and a public boat launch on the western banks of the Erie Canal/Tonawanda Creek just north of East Robinson Street.

Tonawanda Creek serves historical importance as well as ecological significance in our watershed. When the Erie Canal was built, the last 11.6 miles utilized Tonawanda Creek to chart its path from Pendleton to the Niagara River. The Creek was dredged, channelized, and berms built on either side to allow for navigation of animal-drawn boats. In the process much of the aquatic, shoreline, and floodplain ecosystems along this stretch of the creek were degraded or removed. The work completed through this project will restore the natural ecology of the area to what existed before these anthropogenic changes occurred.

The project focuses on an area of land about an acre in size located immediately north of the boat launch. Prior to restoration, this section of the property was void of functional riparian vegetation with only a few trees located within a lawn area that was mowed directly down to the water’s edge.

The land that makes up the Botanical Gardens is owned by NYS Canal Corporation, and is operated and maintained by the City of North Tonawanda. The North Tonawanda Botanical Garden Organization (NTBGO) has been working to revitalize the property since 2018. For more information and updates on the work going on throughout the property, visit the North Tonawanda Botanical Garden Organization website.

Our Botanical Gardens have needed some tender loving care for a while, and now we have a group together that’s dedicated to do that. We have a parks department that is cooperating with us, also our city government cooperating with us, so it’s very exciting to get a project like this off the ground.

Dave ContiChairman, North Tonawanda Botanical Garden Organization
Latest Projects
Purple Martin habitat construction in May 2023

Planting in the Meadow June 2023


We're at it again, planting meadow plugs to establish native plants in our project areas. Here we went to North Tonawanda Botanical Garden along Tonawanda Creek to plant 550 plants, including many to attract pollinators. The work was completed alongside our RECO RAMPS (RestoreCorps Restoration and Adaptive Management Program Stewards). The stewards are helping at a variety of sites this summer as volunteers, and will receive a stipend for their work after so many hours are finished. This program gives mentorship opportunities in ecological services and community engagement to the volunteers. Still lots more to do this summer! Stay tuned.

♬ Plant Trees and Flowers

Press Links
New restoration area transforms banks of Tonawanda Creek 

Buffalo News – 2021

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper completes transformation of shoreline at North Tonawanda Botanical Gardens

WIVB – 2021

Getting Back to Nature: The North Tonawanda Botanical Garden Living Shoreline Project

Buffalo Rising – 2021

Shoreline Set for Beautification

Spectrum News – 2019

Botanical Gardens Shoreline Restoration Kickoff

Buffalo News – 2018