Wetland Restoration Near Buffalo, NY,

to Improve Fish and Wildlife Populations

Removing invasive plants and restoring a 15-acre oxbow wetland on Buffalo Creek, a natural feature rarely found in urban stream, dramatically improved fish and wildlife populations in the creek. Those improvements will bolster the larger effort to restore the Buffalo River Area of Concern.

Description

Protection and restoration of the Oxbow Wetland was an effort to return native plant and animal species to a 15-acre site located at an oxbow in the Buffalo Creek. In the 1950s, the oxbow wetland was cut off from Buffalo Creek as part of a flood control project designed to protect farmland. The alterations allowed Japanese knotweed and other invasive plants to colonize part of the oxbow, driving out native species and reducing habitat for several species of fish and wildlife. As early as 1975, the site was identified as a unique and critical Buffalo River habitat in need of protection. Replacing invasives with native plant species here helps re-set the successional trajectory in support of downstream habitat restoration efforts. The site supports several New York State “species in conservation need,” including red-headed woodpeckers and snapping turtles, as well as many wetland plant species. The project part of larger work to restore and protect 34 acres of floodplain and wetland habitat along Buffalo Creek, in the Town of West Seneca. The restored oxbow will play an important role in increasing fish and wildlife populations in the Buffalo River Area of Concern.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Lack of native habitat
  • Invasive species

NEW YORK OXBOW WETLAND RESTORATION

Oxbow wetland

Oxbows, like the one shown above, form when rivers change their course. The urban oxbow near Buffalo, not pictured here, was restored for fish and wildlife. Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region.

Results and Accomplishments

Work crews removed thousands of knotweed plants and other invasive species from 12,000 square feet of land on the oxbow and replanted several areas with native plants, greatly increasing species diversity on the site. The Riverkeeper organization facilitated the transfer and conservation easement on the original 14 acres from a private donor to the town of West Seneca and is currently working on a second land transfer that will protect a total of 30 acres in perpetuity. They also developed booklets that have prepared government officials and property owners better protect their stream corridors within the Buffalo River Watershed.