9/13/14: Poloncarz, Higgins Join Officials in Times Beach Nature Preserve Dedication

Modified: January 23, 2015 3:13pm

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Four Commemorative Areas are dedicated to Preserve’s Creators, Advocates

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), representatives of the City of Buffalo and elected officials, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Lt. Colonel Karl D. Jansen, Erie County Commissioner of Parks, Recreation & Forestry Troy P. Schinzel, members of the Friends of Times Beach and their family members, and community members to dedicate four commemorative areas of the Times Beach Nature Preserve in honor of four devoted citizen activists whose expertise, time and commitment were invaluable to the creation of the Preserve. The individuals being honored include Dr. Robert Andrle (Ornithologist, Buffalo Ornithological Society, Buffalo Museum of Science), Michael Hamilton (Architect, Hamilton Houston Lownie), George K. Arthur (President, Buffalo Common Council 1984-96), and Paul MacClennan (environmental reporter, Buffalo News). Each will have a section of the Preserve named after them in recognition of their tireless advocacy efforts on the Preserve’s behalf.

“It is an honor to be here to dedicate these areas of the Preserve in recognition of the effort these individuals have invested to aid in the creation of the beautiful, tranquil setting we are enjoying today. The community stewardship demonstrated by these men and others like them plays a major role in protecting and enhancing the long-term investments made by Erie County and other partners in our fresh water resources,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “As I said in my ‘Initiatives for a Smart Economy’ address, my administration will continue to identify strategies and projects that will enhance, protect, and better maintain Erie County’s precious natural resources and habitats. Times Beach is one of those places, and today we are celebrating a partnership that is working for all Erie County residents and visitors to Times Beach Nature Preserve.”

Along with Jay Burney, the four individuals honored at the dedication established the Times Beach Advisory Committee in 1992 to promote the establishment of the 53-acre parcel as a nature preserve. The Advisory Committee, chaired by Burney and MacClennan, was recognized by and worked with Erie County, the City of Buffalo, New York State, and the federal government to identify funding sources and also to design and promote the Nature Preserve. In 2008, the group changed the name from Times Beach Advisory Committee to “The Friends of Times Beach Nature Preserve”, which remains today as the primary advocacy voice for the Times Beach Nature Preserve.

“Just 40 years ago this location was quite literally a dump, but today it is a destination,” said Congressman Higgins. “Times Beach serves as an environmental sanctuary in Western New York’s urban core and Buffalo’s front lawn thanks to the foresight, leadership and hard work of those we recognize here today.”

A former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”) confined disposal facility created to hold sludge and materials dredged from the Buffalo River and Buffalo Harbor, the Times Beach Nature Preserve today provides a lakeside oasis and essential breeding habitat to a wide variety of wildlife, including both migratory birds and native avian species. USACE discontinued use of the location as a disposal facility in the mid 1970’s, and as the site was closed and abandoned nature stepped in to begin reclamation of the property. That reclamation was embraced, enhanced, and invigorated by the Friends of Times Beach. To date, more than 240 species of birds have been observed at this “globally significant” site, which is optimally located on the Niagara River Corridor and boasts observation blinds, overlooks, trails, and boardwalks.

Jay Burney of the Friends of Times Beach added, “We are pleased to join our partners in honoring four of the founders of the Times Beach Nature Preserve.  Without the profound advocacy of these gentlemen, Times Beach Nature Preserve would never have become a reality. Now their legacy will live on at special places at Times Beach Nature Preserve that will bear their names so that future generations will remember how this place was made.”

Small signage installed at the Preserve will honor each of the individuals being recognized for their work with the Friends of Times Beach. These will include: the Robert F. Andrle Trail, located from central entrance to the Nature Blind adjacent to the Coast Guard Station; the Paul MacClennan Overlook, located at the Central entryway and overlooking wetlands; the Mike Hamilton Overlook, located at west end trail just beyond the original entryway near Wilkeson Pointe Park; and the George K. Arthur Nature Blind, located at west end trail, almost at the beginning of the original dike wall. Open to the public, the Times Beach Nature Preserve is a hidden gem that offers unparalleled natural beauty, abundant birds and wildlife, and unmatched river views just minutes from downtown Buffalo.