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Two River Sites Lined Up For Restoration Work

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is moving onto another phase of a long-term plan to clean-up the Buffalo River. The newest work will see in-water and shoreline restoration at River Fest Park and the Blue Tower Turning Basin.

The two projects were identified in the Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan (RAP) that seeks to restore at least 19,941 linear feet of shoreline to natural slope, shallows, and aquatic (emergent and submerged) native vegetation, including naturalizing areas of the City Ship Canal shoreline.

The River Fest Park site is located along the right bank of the Buffalo River, south of the Michigan Avenue lift-bridge, and west of, and immediately adjacent, River Fest Park which is located on, and west of, Ohio Street. It is approximately 1.1 miles upstream of the mouth of the river. It is immediately adjacent to the park which provides a dock network for the hand-launching of paddlesport craft. It is also located across from Buffalo RiverWorks, another project capitalizing on the success of the renaissance of the Buffalo River.


The Blue Tower Turning Basin site is located along the left bank of the Buffalo River, east of Katherine Street Peninsula and due west of an active CSX rail line. It is approximately 3.1 miles upstream of the mouth of the river. The basin was created for ships loading and unloading freight to stage and make their turning movements. Adjacent land uses include the active railroad, as well as abandoned industrial land.


In 1987, the Buffalo River was identified by the USEPA and the International Joint Commission as one of the 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC). Currently, nine of the fourteen designated beneficial uses of the Buffalo River AOC are listed as “Impaired” mainly due to contaminated bottom sediments and loss of habitat. In order to address one of the delisting criteria for BUI #14 “Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat” the Buffalo River Habitat Action Plan was developed in 2013. This Action Plan identifies 13 sites within the Buffalo River AOC that require restoration and/or enhancement in order to reach the goal of softening/restoring 25 percent of the AOC shoreline.

The Blue Tower Turning Basin and River Fest Park are two of the thirteen identified sites but are also the only fully in-water projects. An effort is currently under way by the Buffalo River Restoration Partnership to remediate contaminated sediments. As of December 2014, nearly 1 million cubic yards of sediment have been dredged from the River with additional areas being capped. As part of this sediment project, in-water habitat restoration is being performed at five sites within the Buffalo River and City Ship Canal which includes the installation of hard structures, placement of backfill and planting substrate, and installation of submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation. The installation of these habitat restoration projects are anticipated to be completed in 2015.

Riverkeeper is currently seeking proposals for professional design services for the River Fest Park and Blue Tower Turning Basin projects.

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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