River cleanup fueling Buffalo’s revitalization

The Buffalo Bills aren’t the only thing making a comeback in the community once known as the “Queen City” of the Great Lakes.

The Buffalo River is also making a dramatic comeback, thanks to the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, community groups, government agencies and local corporations.

The Buffalo River, like the Cuyahoga River in Ohio and the Rouge River in Detroit, was once so polluted it caught fire.

Today, the Buffalo River is the centerpiece of the city’s downtown revitalization effort. Thirty species of fish now live in parts of the river that were once too contaminated to support any fish and an area of the river referred to in the past as a “repulsive holding pond” is now home to marinas.

The Buffalo River is far cleaner today than it was in the 1960s, but river advocates aren’t stopping there. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will spend $50 million to dredge 1.1 million cubic yards of contaminated sediments from the lower river.

That work is expected to further improve the river’s health and advance efforts to restore some of the luster to the “Queen City.”

Jill Spisiak Jedlicka, Director of Ecological Programs & Buffalo River Remedial Action Plan Coordinator for the Buffalo Niagara RiverKeeper, said the community is rediscovering the river because people are thinking about it differently.

Instead of dismissing the river as a polluted mess, the community has rallied around efforts to restore it. Celebrating the improvements has helped generate more public support and interest in the river, Spisiak Jedlicka said.

That’s good for the river and the city of Buffalo. “The health of a waterway is absolutely linked to the health of a community,” Spisiak Jedlicka said.








The Bills aren’t the only thing making a comeback in Buffalo — the long-maligned Buffalo River is also

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One Response to River cleanup fueling Buffalo’s revitalization

  1. John Hartig says:

    The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is an excellent example of an organization making a huge difference. The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is the first nonprofit organization to fulfill the role of local project sponsor for a sediment remediation project under the Great Lakes Legacy Act. They are a model for other Areas of Concern and watersheds throughout the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.