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Native Niagara: Ready! Set! Grow!

plants_photoThrough our Native Niagara program, Waterkeeper is furthering habitat conservation by collecting seeds of native plant species for propagation and planting in the watershed. This project improves wildlife habitat by encouraging the growth of native genotypes of plants that are best adapted to local conditions. These native plants provide the highest value food and shelter to native wildlife.

This program includes assessment of local collection sites, coordination of volunteer seed collection events, and propagation of seeds for future plantings. As of July 2015, Waterkeeper has created over 2,000 geotags for mature seeding plants in the Niagara River Watershed. Assessment efforts completed through this project have led to the development of an expansive database of sites, species, and seeding times that includes information for over 80 native plant species. Volunteer seed collection events engage small groups of 6-20 individuals led by Waterkeeper staff trained in low-impact, manual seed collection techniques. All groups follow careful seed collection protocol, taking no more than 10% of the available seeds from any one plant per seeding season.

Seeds collected will be propagated both locally and in partnership with the NYSDEC’s Saratoga Springs nursery for use in local stream plantings and habitat restoration projects. To date, Waterkeeper staff, interns, and volunteers have collected seeds from 19 different native plant species at 11 sites throughout the region. For further information on the Native Niagara program, please contact Robbyn Drake, Director of Education and Training, at (716) 852-7483 x 12 or rdrake@bnwaterkeeper.org. More information on local native plants can be found here.