Restoring the Buffalo River.
West Seneca’s oxbow wetland on Buffalo Creek is just a few miles upstream from the industrialized Buffalo River.
As one of only three major wetlands in the lower Buffalo River watershed, it is considered a source area for future habitat and species restoration in the AOC. Planning studies over the past 40 years have recommended that the oxbow site be protected.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Town of West Seneca
West Seneca Environment Commission
Ecology and Environment, Inc.
SUNY Buffalo's Erie Graduate Program
a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) enabled Waterkeeper to embark on a program to begin protecting and restoring the oxbow wetland and adjacent habitat in the stream corridor.
Waterkeeper successfully petitioned New York State to regulate the wetland portion of the site, and helped facilitate the transfer of the central 14 acres from private ownership to the Town of West Seneca, with a conservation easement protecting it in perpetuity as a nature preserve.
In partnership with the West Seneca Environmental Commission, SUNY Buffalo’s ERIE (Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange) graduate program, and Ecology and Environment, Inc.,
Waterkeeper developed a restoration plan available for download here focused on controlling invasives and reintroducing native plant species to the site. To date over 12,000 square feet of Fallopia japonica (Japanese knotweed) and Phragmites australis (Common reed) have been removed using a variety of mechanical methods including digging, repeated cutting, and over-planting with trees, shrubs and wetland grass/wildflower seeds selected for high wildlife value and historical presence at this site.
Six ERIE (Ecosystem Restoration through Interdisciplinary Exchange) students and their program director donated over 1000 hours in field work and analysis of flora, fauna, soils and groundwater. They helped develop a restoration framework based on adaptive management to control invasive plant species and reintroduce native plants to the site in the context of historical and surrounding reference communities. They made several public presentations, including one to a neighboring high school demonstrating the oxbow’s potential contribution to the science curriculum. The West Seneca Environmental Commission arranged informational meetings with Town officials and residents and will be responsible for monitoring and management of the oxbow restoration plan over the long term.
Waterkeeper prepared a “Watershed Owners Manual” to better prepare Town officials for stream corridor stewardship, and helped the Environmental Commission secure another NFWF grant for the Town to continue implementing the restoration plan. We also produced and distributed a booklet you can download here, “Know Your Backyard,” to educate interested citizens in the Town and in the Buffalo River Watershed on the natural and cultural legacy that is now in their hands.
Buffalo River tributaries and their associated floodplains and wetlands in the Town of West Seneca are unique in Erie County because of their relative connectivity and the diversity of habitats and native species they support. Protection and restoration of these creek corridors are key to conserving an irreplaceable natural and cultural heritage. In addition to providing important contiguous habitat for fish and wildlife, these undeveloped floodplains and wetlands play an increasingly critical role in absorbing and storing stormwater, filtering out nutrients and pollutants, moderating stream temperatures, and generally improving stream water quality.