A project designed to control invasive species in the Niagara River Gorge, and boost tourism, is set to get underway in Niagara Falls Tuesday.
Crews are going to begin removing harmful plants in the Gorge, from Devil's Hole State Park to the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, and replacing them with native grasses, shrubs and trees. The "Restore the Gorge" project is being led by the Western New York Land Conservancy. Executive Director Nancy Smith says, native plants are key to improving water quality. And Smith says, the Niagara River is a globally significant Important Bird Area.
"It is on the same par as the Galapogos, Yellowstone and the Everglades. So it's not just important for wildlife though. Also for people. So we are confident that this revitalized Niagara Gorge will be important to not only the quality of life of our residents of Niagara Falls and our region, but the 9 million visitors who come each year," Smith said.
The $2.1 million project is the latest investment by the state to strengthen tourism in Niagara Falls. Mayor Paul Dyster says, the project will enhance the ecosystem and restore the Gorge, as close as possible, to the way it looked hundreds of years ago.
"I think that this is a project that is very important. It has economic significance to our tourism economy. But I think it's even more important because it shows that our concern for the environment isn't just about us and our lifetimes but we're concerned about the world that our kids and grandkids are going to live in. This is truly a gift to the world, the restoration of the Niagara River Gorge," Dyster said.
The work is expected to take about two years to complete.