It’s hard to imagine that Tifft Nature Preserve was once a dairy farm, then an industrial shipping facility, before it transitioned into a dump, before reemerging as a nature preserve. That ultimate success story has been told many times, but not many people are aware that the transition to a comprehensive sustainable nature preserve is still underway.
The Preserve is designated as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat by the NYS Department of State, and an Important Bird Area by Audubon.
The reason? Well, we know so much more today than we did back when the preserve first came about. For example, a 300 linear foot section of the shoreline surrounding Lake Kirsty is lined with boulders, which made sense when the preserve was created, but we now know that a more naturalized scape is… well… more natural. The boulders were an easy fix, yet they did nothing to promote the proliferation of wildlife.
Currently, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is working towards eliminating this “wall”, while removing invasive plant species such as Japanese Knotweed. In order to protect the fragile landscape, a fence will be installed until the natural scape takes hold. According to Waterkeeper, 90% of life found in fresh water ecosystems get their start from these types of water-land transition areas.
If you look at Buffalo’s waterfront, we have all but eradicated these types of natural settings by building walls and putting out giant boulders. That’s why these types of restoration programs are so critically important.
Today, thanks to the efforts of groups such as Waterkeeper, We are making headway when it comes to restoring our waterways, which were virtually vanquished decades ago. The more that we learn from our mistakes, the more we are attempting to be better stewards for future generations of humankind and wildlife.
Photos and images courtesy Waterkeeper