Earlier today I received an inquiry from a reader who wanted to know what the “poles with white pods” were along the Niagara River at Black Rock Canal Park (BRCP), visible from the 190. Not knowing what to tell him, I reached out to a friend of Black Rock, who pointed me in the direction of Margaret Szczepaniec, from the Black Rock Canal Park Steering Committee. In turn, she reached out to Dan Rizzo, Commissioner of Parks, Recreation & Forestry at Erie County, who explained that US Fish and Wildlife Service purchased purple martin nesting poles for a number of locations along the Niagara River. BRCP is one of those spots. Apparently, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will be providing informational signage (wayfinding materials), which will explain the presence of the wildlife conservation installations.
This is a wonderful addition to the waterfront. Not only are these eco-installations visually appealing, they are important for helping to create habitats for the birds that once nested in great numbers along the river until the 190 highway was built. Just standing next to the installations, it is easy to see (and hear) just how disruptive the 190 is to the Niagara River. To this day, there are very few talks about removing/rerouting the highway that separates Black Rock and Riverside neighborhoods from the water, not to mention the natural habitats that have been sacrificed at the hands of expediting traffic along the waterfront.
Thankfully, there are a few incremental advancements that are being made to create aesthetically pleasing habitats for migratory birds (purple martins winter in South America), such as this latest effort that we are seeing put forth at Black Rock Canal Park.