The following is a Q&A with members of Erie County department of Environment & Planning regarding the remediation and restoration of Red Jacket Park along the Buffalo River.
How is progress going to date on this shoreline remediation project?
Hardscape Elements (ex: rock weirs, woody debris ) have been installed in the river and have performed well through high water levels this winter and spring. A natural trail was added near the wetland on-site and additional woody debris was added to the wetland to increase turtle habitat in the park. This site had large amounts of invasive plants throughout. Treatment to remove these invasives has been completed over the past year and with this treatment complete, plantings of flowers, shrubs, and trees can occur on the shoreline and upland portions of the site this fall.
Can you describe the process? What sort of indigenous plants are growing in the river pens?
Placement of submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation is a difficult process. First, the plants must be placed in locations with the correct amount of water. Too much water depth and the plant can drown, too little water and the plant can wither and die. This planting must be done by hand and is a very labor intensive process. After the plantings are completed, a cage is placed around the plantings to prevent carp from eating the plants before they are fully grown. Examples of the types of plants seen in these areas include waterwillow, pondweed, water lilies, and bulrush. A large palette of different plants has been used to promote diversity of the landscape.
Have you seen any wildlife return due to the restoration?
Too early for a final answer, but we know that the turtles are happy – the logs are often full of turtles enjoying their new habitat.
There is a giant pile of garbage/debris, including discarded TVs and computers at the site. It seems weird that with such a cleanup effort at the river, that this garbage would remain… and it’s getting worse (more computers and TVs are showing up). What group is responsible for cleaning Red Jack Park?
While construction is still taking place through 2017, there are no organized cleanups happening at Erie County’s Red Jacket Natural Habitat Park. Erie County staff and local neighbors currently pick up trash at this site. Once restorations are complete in 2018, monthly Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper shoreline cleanups will begin again, and Erie County will engage various schools and community stewardship groups to help perform additional site activities.
The larger pile of debris is at the 61 Smith Street restoration site, adjacent to Erie County’s Red Jacket Natural Habitat Park. While Erie County is managing the shoreline restoration construction and plantings through 2018, the property is owned by NFTA. Trash dumping is a recurring problem here, with the general public using the secluded area near the railroad tracks for trash and debris disposal. Currently arrangements are being made to remove the trash pile.
I see that there are metal mesh wraps around the trees – beavers are making a comeback. Has anyone ever thought of creating artificial dams for the beavers? Please reference this Buffalo Rising article: www.buffalorising.com/2017/04/dam-beavers/. How do you successfully balance the reintroduction of nature, with a growing hotspot for humans?
Artificial dams have not been discussed with EC DEP. We presently utilize fencing to protect trees, and will monitor and address protective measures while engaging community stewardship groups to as needed. Additional planting will take place as needed to support habitat restorations.
Has anyone talked about taking water from the lake and aerating the river? Apparently this has been done elsewhere, to improve the water quality – the Buffalo River is very slow moving, and could use some aeration?
This idea has not been brought to the attention of EC DEP. This type of initiative would have to involve US Army Corps. of Engineers and NYSDEC relative to design, permits and water quality regulations.