As part of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s new awareness campaign for Scajaquada Creek – “Scajaquada September” – the organization held a press conference where they discussed a number of impressive goals, including reconnecting a wetland and floodplain. Waterkeeper has been working with public and private partners to restore the creek as much as humanly possible, despite the hurdles and roadblocks that the creek continues to face. It’s certainly considered an “upstream battle,” but a battle worth fighting all the same.
To date, upwards of $6 million has been secured for sediment dredging, wetland restoration, and creek rehabilitation. This is especially exciting because Waterkeeper is now able to look at the big picture – the restoration of the entire 13-mile creek corridor.
The Scajaquada Creek Watershed encompasses 29 square miles of urbanized land throughout four municipalities: Town of Lancaster, Village of Depew, Town of Cheektowaga, and City of Buffalo.
“Scajaquada Creek remains one of our region’s most historically polluted and altered waterways, impacting iconic cultural resources, and affecting communities and neighborhoods in Lancaster, Depew, Cheektowaga and the City of Buffalo,” said Jill Jedlicka, Waterkeeper’s executive director. “Restoring a waterway does not happen overnight, it takes years, and even decades – to secure the partners, the funding and the political will to achieve this vision. Against all odds, we accomplished what was once deemed impossible for the Buffalo River, and with community voices and support behind us, we can do it again for Scajaquada Creek.”
A decade ago, the plan of restoring the creek was first hatched. Today, we are seeing the fruits of that hard work come to pass, with the impressive stewardship of the creek at Forest Lawn Cemetery (lead image – learn more).
The waterway was once a celebrated part of the city, but over the years industry, pollution, and an expressway wreaked havoc upon the creek.
“Forest Lawn is proud to have partnered with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to be a catalyst in the restoration of Scajaquada Creek, starting with the section of the creek that runs through our grounds,” said Charles Kreiner, Jr., Chair of the Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation Board of Directors. “The impact of this effort has been profound. Nearly four new acres of wetland have been created within the gates of Forest Lawn, with walking paths and bridges that provide ready access for pedestrians. In the wetland we’re seeing the return of certain birds, fish and aquatic vegetation that have not been seen in Forest Lawn by anyone in decades – a sure sign of improved water quality and a healthy ecosystem. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are taking advantage of the unprecedented access to the creek to walk, jog, bird watch or simply relax in this wonderful new environment.”
Improvements to Scajaquada Creek channel include:
- Restoring the original course of the waterway
- Naturalizing shorelines
- Reconnecting floodplains
- Restoring historic Hoyt Lake wetlands
- Mitigating and stopping combined sewer overflows
- Support community and economic development in adjacent neighborhoods
During the press conference, Waterkeeper addressed the need to reconfigure and redesign NYS Route 198 – the Scajaquada Expressway – in tandem with the creek. The organization made it clear that the two projects would each benefit from a more comprehensive and inclusive plan. The proper downgrading of the expressway into a bike-ped friendly boulevard would naturally benefit the creek. There is limitless potential to create a transformational thoroughfare befitting this city’s heralded park system and precious fresh water resources.
Improvements to the Scajaquada Creek channel help drive the region’s ‘Blue Economy.’
Sign up for a cleanup on September 19, register for a silent auction on September 24, and follow Waterkeeper on social media.
- September 19 – Sweep along Scajaquada – sign up now
- September 24 – Virtual Silent Auction – register now
“Scajaquada September” is a month of outreach and education to reintroduce the community to this iconic and impaired Western New York waterway. Hosted by Media Chair Jeff Russo, in addition to a digital education campaign about the Creek, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper will present an online auction event on September 24th to benefit the work needed, as well as a morning and afternoon cleanup of the different sections of Scajaquada Creek on September 19. Buffalo’s local Orvis store is hosting a month-long benefit for Scajaquada September. Financial and in-kind support has been provided by Atradius, Labatt USA, Prizm Document and Technology Services, and Creo 451. Details about all Scajaquada September events and partners can be found at: www.bnwaterkeeper.org/scajaquada-september