The following piece was posted with the permission of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper:
When you think of walking along a typical body of water, you picture yourself at peace, on vacation, taking in the view. While Scajaquada Creek used to be a meandering waterway, over the last hundred years, it has been forgotten and hidden away little by little.
Lauren Darcy has been thinking about Scajaquada Creek since she started her career in Buffalo. As a graduate student at University at Buffalo, Scajaquada Creek was the site of one of her first projects. Lauren also focused on the Creek as an intern here at Waterkeeper. Lucky for us, she now works here full-time as the Senior Ecological Planner and will be leading the Scajaquada Initiative! Take a walk with Lauren along Scajaquada Creek – you might be surprised how many areas of WNY it connects.
When you think of walking along a typical body of water, you picture yourself at peace, on vacation, taking in the view. While Scajaquada Creek used to be a meandering waterway, over the last hundred years, it’s been forgotten about and hidden away little by little. Most of Scajaquada Creek has been altered by urbanization, channelized, buried and narrowed to make way for roadways and buildings. Did you know that over half of Scajaquada Creek runs through tunnels underground? The Creek flows through four municipalities and faces a number of challenges including sewer infrastructural problems and runoff pollution.
The Scajaquada Creek starts out in the town of Lancaster. There, the Creek is broken up into small ponds in the back of developed neighborhoods.
Traveling west towards Lake Erie, the Creek is covered by the Galleria Mall in the Town of Cheektowaga. If you were to shop at the Galleria, you’d never know Scajaquada Creek was running beneath your feet.
Further west, Scajaquada Creek passes through another residential neighborhood. This section of the Creek, traveling through Cheektowaga Town Park, is more picturesque.
Just before Villa Maria College, Scajaquada Creek travels back underground for a while, through the East Side of Buffalo.
As you walk through the East Side, if you listen closely, you can hear the flow of water underground. There are a few footpaths that people have created that travel directly over where the creek should be.
The Creek then goes underneath the expressway and comes back up in the iconic and historic Forest Lawn cemetery.
By the time Scajaquada Creek has reached Forest Lawn in Buffalo, it has traveled underground for miles with a negative impact on the water quality. One of our projects in Forest Lawn Cemetery was to create a wetland connecting the Creek back to its natural flood plain, which will mitigate flooding issues while preserving important natural habitats and providing additional access points.
From Forest Lawn, the Creek travels under Delaware Ave and alongside of Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park.
It then passes under the expressway again, although there are points where the highway is built directly into the creek. Finally opens up into the Creek’s mouth, where it enters the Niagara River.
Strolling along the Creek, it is easy to understand why Scajaquada Creek is stressed.
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s vision is to work with partners to complete more projects, like the one in Forest Lawn Cemetery, to restore the Creek back to its former glory and reconnect the communities in the Scajaquada Creek Corridor to their waterway.
To support this work, visit www.bnwaterkeeper.org/donate and type in the notes section “Scajaquada Creek.”
“Scajaquada Creek has been hidden from people for so long. By working on projects that restore the health of the Creek, we are also working to reconnect communities to one another and this amazing shared resource.”
Senior Ecological Planner