Three years after installation, the Urban Habitat Project (UHP) is going strong and is an award winner. The UHP is a living ecological classroom and demonstration project on a 3-acre portion of the Central Terminal property at the intersection of Memorial Drive, Curtiss, and Peckham streets. Dave Majewski has been working with the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, neighborhood stakeholders, educators, and others to ensure the project’s success.
The UHP is meant to demonstrate biodiversity, native regional habitats, soil remediation, several plant communities, ecosytems that benefit birds, bees, various beneficial insects, and an array of resident mammals that exist near the site. There is a large grove of pine trees, hawthorns, native shrubs, and meadows of grasses and wildflowers that have been specifically designed and selected to meet specific site criteria.
A number of public and private funders have helped make the project a reality including theJohn R. Oishei Foundation, the Buffalo Green Fund, the Marks family, Baird Foundation, the Vogt family, Dore Landscape, and Councilmember Franczyk. Wendel Design contributed $3,500 in in-kind services. The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation also funded a portion of the project.
Storm water is kept on the site which also absorbs approximately 320,000 gallons of stormwater runoff from adjacent streets and redirects it to bioretention cells. Planted and seeded areas were specially selected for particular functions and benefits – while also demonstrating the plant communities that occur naturally in our region. The variety of native grasses is significant in that they develop deep fibrous roots systems that aerate the soil and aid in the absorption of accumulated runoff. These grasses are important in restoring long neglected soils. Moreover, they are a key winter food for birds and other wildlife as well as providing nesting sites and nesting materials for birds.
The project also serves as a living classroom to educate children and residents on the importance of natural habitats, ecology, and the environment. It has garnered a lot of attention during the regions garden walks and other events. It has even won several awards including the Nature Sanctuary Society of WNY’s 2013 Annual Award for Environmental Stewardship and a 2013 Environmental Quality Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is also a registered Monarch Way Station and Pollinator Conservation Site.
The UHP has been included on the Beyond Flowers Tour, one component of the National Garden Festival, and now in its second year. The focus of Beyond Flowers is to show off the new, smarter strategies for taking care of our environment and features seven stops.
“One of the comments I heard on the tour was ‘it looks better than last year!’ and yet, all we did in the intervening year was allow for natural growth and succession to take place,” says Yuri Hreshchyshyn, who helps coordinate volunteers and assists with grounds maintenance at the Central Terminal.
Additional work is planned for the site that will include an educational pavilion, more trees, an enhanced water component, and additional signage (below). That work could be underway next spring if funding is secured.