Erie County is fortunate to have four natural habitat “pocket parks” located in downtown Buffalo. Each habitat park is unique in its setting, providing a natural sanctuary for native plants and animals to thrive among urban surroundings. The parks are situated along the Buffalo River, which is designated as a toxic water body, or “Area of Concern” (AOC). The river has undergone extensive cleanup over the last several years. As part of the recovery effort, US EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has invested millions of dollars in shoreline and habitat restoration to revive a healthy ecosystem.
This video explains more about AOCs and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
A lot of progress has been and will continue to be accomplished, but the work at the habitat parks is never finished. Check out our park pages to see future plans and changes that have been made in recent years:
- Thomas Higgins Natural Habitat Park (Bailey Peninsula)
- Red Jacket Natural Habitat Park
- Seneca Bluffs Natural Habitat Park
- Times Beach Nature Preserve
Thomas Higgins Natural Habitat Park (Bailey Peninsula)
- Erie County Natural Habitat Park located at South Park and Bailey Avenues, Buffalo NY.
- Erie County Parks & Recreation: Thomas Higgins Natural Habitat Park (Bailey Peninsula) page
- As part of the US EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Thomas Higgins Park went through an extensive shoreline and habitat restoration from July 2016 through May 2017.
- The restorations included:
- creation of a seiche wetland,
- turtle habitat feature,
- Future restorations include:
- shoreline improvements
- fishing access upgrades
- walking trail finishing
Finished in October 2017, the City of Buffalo relocated the Bailey Avenue Bridge, which now intersects through Erie County’s previous site, Bailey Peninsula Natural Habitat Park. Since completion, Thomas Higgins Park is receiving a lot of time and dedication to restore it to its natural state. With the relocation, Erie County gained land on the east side of Bailey Avenue where the old bridge used to be located.
Red Jacket Natural Habitat Park
- Erie County Natural Habitat Park located at the foot of Smith Street, Buffalo NY.
- Erie County Parks & Recreation: Red Jacket Natural Habitat Park page
- This is a popular fishing and hiking location for many Erie County residents.
- As part of the US EPA Great Lakes Restoratin Initiative, Red Jacket Natural Habitat Park underwent an extensive restoration from July 2016 through May 2017.
- The restoration included:
- shoreline and near-shore habitat restoration for fish and wildlife enhancement
- upgraded trails and informal kyak launch access
- enhanced green infrastructure parking area
Seneca Bluffs Natural Habitat Park
- Erie County Natural Habitat Park located at 1670 Seneca Street, Buffalo NY.
- Erie County Parks & Recreation: Seneca Bluffs Natural Habitat Park page
- As part of the US EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Seneca Bluffs underwent restoration work from July 2016 through May 2017.
- The restorations included:
- extensive bank stabilization and reshaping
- widespread native planting of the approximately 3,500 linear feet of shoreline and Riverine Island.
- Future plans for Seneca Bluffs:
- Installing community gardens with public access
- Removal of invasive species
- Erie County residents have a remarkable 20+ acres of natural habitat and shoreline access in an urban South Buffalo neighborhood. Watch for additional future improvements to this spectacular downtown nature park.
Times Beach Nature Preserve
- Erie County Natural Habitat Park located at the Outer Harbor next to the Coast Guard Station on Fuhrmann Blvd., Buffalo NY.
- Erie County Parks & Recreation: Times Beach Nature Preserve page
- Times Beach is a globally significant important bird area and home to many native plant and wildlife species.
- With the expanding activities at the Outer Harbor including bike ferry and other venues along the waterfront, it is important to note that Times Beach is a bird and nature sanctuary. Please do not bring pets and bicycles into this natural habitat preserve!
For more information about Erie County's Habitat Restoration efforts, contact Vicki Haas at Vicki.Haas@erie.gov
Last updated: April 16, 2019 10:04am