In 2010, the Obama administration established a plan to systematically clean the Great Lakes. The initiative continues to have tremendous effects on Buffalo’s waterways, including the Outer Harbor. Currently, at Times Beach Nature Preserve, Ecology & Environment, Inc. crews are in the process of removing a number of aquatic invasive plants that have managed to maintain a stranglehold on the area for years. The invasive species include Japanese knotweed, common buckthorn, mugwort and Phragmites australis (common reed). The effort is being led by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District, in conjunction with the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC).
In order to control the invasive aquatic plants, the plan calls for mechanical removal, chemical treatment, and habitat modification (restoration). Since the inception of the five-year contract, 250 tons of invasive biomass have been removed from the 31 acre site, along with other treatment measures being taken.
“Observations after the first mechanical cutting and herbicide treatment show a noticeable difference at the site,” said Kris Erickson, Ecology and Environment Inc. “As this project continues, we should see an increase in native plants and a reduction of biomass being removed from the site.”
Moving forward, the plan will continue to be in effect, though there will alterations depending on the ecosystems ability to maintain balance. Since its restoration from a hazardous steel making slag and coke waste site, Times Beach has become a haven for migratory birds. The turnaround has proved to be one of the greatest environmental success stories in Buffalo. “The USACE Buffalo District, ERDC, and the contractor were very cognizant of the important role Times Beach plays in regards to the bird population,” said Craig Forgette, USACE Buffalo District project manager. “Before work was started, and during, bird surveys were completed to ensure the bird population was not harmed. Birds surveys will also be indicators of change in ecological function of the site as the project progresses.”
Inset image: Invasive Phragmites mowing, November 2012 – Friends of Times Beach | Lead image: Friends of Times Beach