EPA Funding Supports Habitat Restoration, Continues River Remedial Action Plan
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced that Erie County (“the County”) has received a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to continue local coordination of the Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan (“RAP”) and for the implementation of habitat restoration projects in two Erie County Natural Habitat Parks. The grant will also assist in making progress toward delisting the Buffalo River as an Area of Concern (“AOC”), a designation it received in 1987 after the International Joint Commission identified possible impairments of fourteen beneficial uses of the river. The goal of the AOC program is to address the causes of the impairments and ultimately delist the area as an AOC.
“This grant will help greatly in advancing the progress that is being made in the remediation of the Buffalo River, which was considered biologically dead in the 1960’s. Today, we are restoring it to a healthy ecosystem that can support aquatic life and human health,” said Poloncarz. “With this funding Erie County will be able to continue the coordination of the Buffalo River RAP, making progress toward the delisting of the River as an AOC. As I mentioned in my ‘Initiatives for a Smart Economy’ address, the protection and enhancement of our Natural Habitat Parks is essential to proper stewardship of our water resources and contributes to the success of our Blue Economy. This grant will allow us to take a big step forward in that area.”
As part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan and Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, protection and restoration of habitat are priorities for restoring aquatic and upland habitats. These actions lead to a strong ecosystem that supports sustainable biodiversity and contributes to human economic and social vitality. Achieving corrective measures that will eliminate Beneficial Use Impairments and move toward delisting of the AOC is of utmost importance.
The Buffalo River RAP Project Management: Bailey/Smith Habitat Restoration Delisting Project targets two Erie County Natural Habitat parks within the Buffalo River corridor for aquatic and riparian habitat restoration work that conforms to the delisting criteria of the AOC. Control and management methods for invasive plants at the sites will be selected based on the likelihood they can meet restoration goals and objectives. Final design will involve a combination of treatment methods and techniques and will include monitoring protocols to measure results and document habitat outcomes and outputs. The Buffalo River Ecological Restoration Master Plan has identified these sites as candidates that can be restored to improve fish and wildlife habitat and eliminate Beneficial Use impairments.
Following approval by the Erie County legislature, the County will accept the grant funding, establish a budget, create an Environmental Specialist position which will be paid for by the grant, and execute a three-year contract with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper for Buffalo River RAP Project management. The Erie County Department of Environment & Planning will manage the habitat restoration contracts at the two Erie County Natural Habitat Parks, as well as oversee the contract with Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper for the Buffalo River RAP management.
For information on the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, visit http://bnriverkeeper.org/