Shrinking island gets a makeover

Sep 12, 2017
Originally published on September 13, 2017 9:44 am

A small island in the Niagara River has received a makeover, thanks to the New York State Power Authority and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.Angelica A. Morrison reports.

On Monday, they announced the completion of a $4.3 million project to restore habitat and prevent erosion on Strawberry Island. That’s good news for wildlife on the island, including the American Bald Eagle, osprey and blue heron.

The island, which lies south of Niagara Falls, is a sand and gravel deposit that formed from natural and geologic forces thousands of years ago.  DEC biologist Tim DePriest, says at one point it was about 100 acres, but now it’s around eight.

Over the years, its size has been changed by industry.

“When they were digging the Erie Canal, they brought a lot of dredged soil out there and it actually increased in size and then it dramatically decreased in size when they started taking the material back out and started mining the gravel and sand," DePriest said.

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The island also has a colorful history. It was used as a staging area by British troops during the War of 1812, later held a hotel, and then became a fishing spot for Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland. 

The Strawberry Island project is one of eight aimed at revitalizing wetlands in the Niagara River, which runs from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. Together, the projects total about $13 million.

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