A two-year project to improve the ecological quality of a lake in the heart of Niagara Falls, New York, is at its completion, participants said Wednesday.
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper's Hyde Park Lake Living Shoreline Project included the planting of thousands of native plants to create habitats including a cattail marsh and a meadow. Trees damaged by Emerald Ash Borers were also put to new use, as Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper executive director Jill Jedlicka explained.
"Hyde Park lake is no stranger to that," she said. "But we were able to utilize some of the impacted trees and use them in the restoration project."
Last year, the presence of toxic algae was detected in the water, Jedlicka noted. Earlier this summer, the City of Niagara Falls was taking a step toward improving the water's quality by stocking channel catfish to help control other fish populations and form a renewable population that could attract anglers.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster spoke about the completion of the project and acknowledged the problems caused by storm runoff in the Niagara River earlier this summer, brought to light following a discharge of sewage that caused a black, foul-smelling pool in the Lower Niagara near the falls. While heavy rains may result in overflows that spill into the river, Dyster pointed out that storm runoff, such as dirt and road salts, also finds its way into the city's smaller tributaries.
"A lot of the same pollutants that find their way into the river, when the capacity of our wastewater treatment plant are exceeded by storm water flow, also find their way into the tributaries of the Niagara River," he said.
Hyde Park Lake sits in the heart of the city's premier park. A short walk away are tennis courts, picnic areas and the city's ice rink pavilion. On the other side of the lake are Sal Maglie Stadium and Hyde Park Boulevard. The mayor suggested that completion of the restoration project shows that his community can have both ecology and economy coexisting. Jedlicka agreed and explained that the restoration also creates spaces where people can enjoy the natural habitats up close.
"We are enhancing the adjacent paths, and the views of the water in recreational opportunities," Jedlicka said. "It's one thing to restore habitat and ecosystems but we also want to restore these for the human enjoyment and the public that utilizes these resources."
Jedlicka said future work will focus on improving the quality of Gill Creek, which runs through the heart of the Cataract City.