Buffalo is finally starting to wake up when it comes to taking care of its environment and ecology. For years we stamped out just about every form of nature, especially along our waterways. As we built up our industrial landscape, we tore apart the natural landscape. Unfortunately, to this day, the landscape that exists is nothing like the natural environment that offered ecological sanctuaries to animal, bird, fish, and insect populations, all of which are critical to restoring nature’s delicate balance.
While we have certainly disrupted so much, there are thankfully groups out there that are helping to restore some of that balance. Groups like The Pollinator Conservation Association (PCA is a not for profit, 501c3) are not only educating the public about the importance of conservation, they are actually rolling up their sleeves to get things done. For example, the group is adding piles of sand to the Outer Harbor, to simulate the conditions that would have been there when the waterfront was a delta system, including sand dune and marsh.
Jay Burney, who is with the Pollinator Conservation Association, is one of the people heading up this important eco initiative. “The Pollinator Conservation Association has a mission to advocate for, educate about, and when possible, develop conservation projects in our region,” said Burney. “Since our inception in 2016 we have concentrated on the Niagara River Greenway although we are working on projects in the Adirondacks, and along the New York State Canal system (particularly along the Erie Canal). One of our primary educational initiatives has been to create the Niagara River Greenway Pollinator Partnership which consists of government, not-for-profit, and private sector stakeholders. The Partnership is an official roundtable recognized by the Niagara River Greenway Commission.
“Part of our early and ongoing advocacy initiatives have been to work with stakeholders on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor to help ensure appropriate green and climate resilient strategies on public properties affiliated with any and all development initiatives. We work with State Parks, Erie County, COB, DOT, the Our Outer Harbor Coalition, and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) regarding this and our efforts have paid off significantly with the recent ECHDC Outer Harbor activation initiatives.
“In 2018, the PCA obtained funding from the Niagara River Greenway to install a demonstration pollinator conservation site at the Buffalo Harbor State Park. We developed a site plan, native planting lists, target pollinators, other relevant target wildlife, (particularly birds) and have now begun to install the site. One of our fundamental strategies is to think of the outer harbor ecologically as it was when this was a delta system including sand dune and marsh. We are targeting related plant and pollinator species and species communities that are still present in some areas along the shoreline, were present in recent times, and or should and could be here. Another strategy is aesthetic. We are using sand to encourage a feeling of a coastal area. We think of Presque Isle in Erie Pennsylvania as both an ecological and an aesthetic model.”
Photos courtesy Jay Burney