Cayuga Creek Flow Restoration
Located in Western New York, Cayuga Creek flows into the Niagara River just above the iconic Niagara Falls. Historically, the Western New York region grew into an industrial hub due to its geographic location within the Great Lakes and access to cheap hydroelectric power. With decades of industrial activity came the degradation of environmental assets and the disconnection of the community to these resources. Over the years, Cayuga Creek has been subject to a number of anthropogenic alterations that have led to frequent and severe flooding, degraded water quality, habitat loss, and impacts to the surrounding community.
Over the past decade, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has led efforts to acquire, protect, and restore one of the last remaining natural areas along the Cayuga Creek corridor, colloquially referred to as the “Weber Property.” With over a quarter mile of the creek running through the property and 30 acres of floodplain and riparian habitat, this property provides significant opportunity to help restore Cayuga Creek and community access.
The restoration of Cayuga Creek will provide the opportunity to implement living infrastructure techniques to restore natural hydrology which will not only help address flooding in the adjacent low- income community, but simultaneously provide critical wetland habitat. By restoring the original creek channel, which was straightened in the 1970s, to a more natural state and reconnecting the stream to its floodplain, benefits such as reduction of flooding, improvement of water quality, creation of important breeding habitat for fish species and amphibians, and overall increased stream function will be achieved. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper will work closely with the Town of Niagara, US Fish and Wildlife Service, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, SUNY Buffalo State, and other local partners to complete restoration of this valuable property.
A restoration master plan, including a recreational trail network, public access points, and long-term stewardship and maintenance plans, will be developed in tandem with flood mitigation activities. The master plan will engage the community and surrounding businesses in ongoing stewardship and maintenance of the site. Restored conditions will not only reestablish natural hydrology and improve ecological conditions, but will provide the community with a unique space to enjoy and connect with the significant natural resources in their back yards.
* Project restores natural hydrologic conditions to facilitate improved capture and infiltration of surface water and groundwater recharge