Habitat Restoration at RiverBend

Habitat Restoration at RiverBend

Riverbend Phase I Design Drawings Approved
The City of Buffalo Planning Board motioned to approve the Riverbend Phase I Habitat Restoration Project and accept Negative Declaration for State Environmental Quality Review on Tuesday, February 12, bringing Waterkeeper one step closer to implementing the Project.

Phase I Design Concepts:

RiverBend Site History

The habitat restoration site is comprised of two phases totaling 4,320 linear feet and 9.79 acres of shoreline area located at the RiverBend Commerce Park property within the City of Buffalo, Erie County, NY. The property is located along the Buffalo River within the RiverBend Commerce Park and greater South Buffalo Brownfield Opportunity Area.  The project site includes property owned by the City of Buffalo, Buffalo Urban Development Corporation and the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation. The South Buffalo Brownfield Opportunity Area has been classified by the NYS Governor as one of the only three “Smart Growth Spotlight Communities” in New York State.


The RiverBend site was home to heavy industries, as seen in this 1973 photo.

The project area was formally the Republic Steel and Donner Hanna Coke Facilities in South Buffalo. The site was the subject of Voluntary Cleanup Program through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC) and remedial work was completed in October 2007.  Remediation of the site largely consisted of the removal of underground storage tanks and contaminated soil.

The RiverBend site provides one of the longest stretches of undeveloped shoreline in the Buffalo River Area of Concern and was identified in the original Buffalo River RAP (1989) as well as the Framework, as a high priority restoration “Habitat Restoration Opportunity Area” site.

Project :

Waterkeeper received grant funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration to complete a 4,320 linear foot/ 9.79 acre riparian habitat restoration. The project will include the development of detailed engineering and design plans, as well as implementation of Phase I riverbank enhancements which include the planting of native trees and vegetation for habitat. Phase I will also include the removal of invasive species.

The following objectives have been identified for the RiverBend project:

1. Design a habitat restoration project for 4,320 linear feet and 9.79 acres of Buffalo River riparian zone.

2. Integrate the restoration project with parallel efforts at this site.

3. Implement the RiverBend riparian zone restoration project.

4. Evaluate and monitor the project for 2 years to measure success.


Date Task
June, 2010 Grant awarded from USEPA
June, 2010 – July 2011 Project Planning and QAPP development
Current Release of Engineering & Design RFP

Importance of Habitat Restoration in Urban Areas

Restoration of damaged habitats is a growing field of conservation science that works towards the restoration of degraded and fragmented ecosystems. The primary goal of restoration ecology is to return a community or ecosystem to a condition as similar in ecological structure and function to that which existed prior to the site disturbance or degradation.

Urban habitat restoration deals with areas that are heavily stressed by habitat loss and alterations associated with development from past and present population increases, heavy industry and various types of pollution.

Goals for urban habitat restoration projects must have realistic and multi-functional goals that address past development mistakes or pollution issues onsite while being flexible to accommodate potential future site revitalization for economic development, multi-functional recreational uses while improving ecological system functions.