Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

August 23, 2018

Kristen Davidson (DEC) (716) 851-7220
Randy Simons (Parks) (518) 486-1868

Work to Begin on Niagara River Habitat Restoration

State Parks and DEC receive grants to preserve wildlife and natural resources

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (Parks) and State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that work will soon begin to restore natural habitats in several sites along the Niagara River, which was named an "Area of Concern" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1987.

Work to restore, enhance and protect coastal and in-river wetlands will take place at Beaver Island State Park, Buckhorn Island State Park and DEC's Spicer Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to improve habitats at these sites for fish, migrating waterfowl, water birds, and song birds. In addition, wetland and riparian native vegetation will be restored to support the long-term ecological integrity and resilience of the river.

EPA has awarded Parks and DEC a combined $11.2 million from its Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Fund ( for five projects to help improve the Niagara River and ultimately work towards removing the "Area of Concern" designation. These projects are located throughout the two State Parks in areas known as Burnt Ship Creek, Grass Island, Buckhorn Island north shoreline, and East River Marsh, while Spicer Creek WMA is DEC-owned property. All of these sites are important habitats that support the Niagara River fishery and the nationally designated "Important Bird Area," and restoring them will add significant progress to restoring the Beneficial Use Impairment "Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat" in the Area of Concern program.

"These projects will help to restore the Niagara River to allow for greater sustainability that will result in a stronger ecological system and ultimately increased recreation and economic benefits. It is absolutely vital that we all work together to preserve this amazing natural resource that is the Niagara River," said Mark V. Mistretta, Western District Director for State Parks.

"The Niagara River contains habitats of global significance, and since the Area of Concern designation was instituted in 1987, we have made significant progress in repairing the river from its industrial legacy. This suite of projects will be a significant step toward restoring this area, while supporting the region's commitment to building a sustainable, water-based economy. These projects wouldn't be possible without our partners at State Parks and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funding," said Abby Snyder, Region 9 Director, DEC.

Detailed work plans will be rolled out and the two agencies will begin meeting with interested stakeholders to discuss the scope of work and solicit input in the fall.

For more information on the Parks projects, please see the Buckhorn Island State Park Page and for information on Spicer Creek.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 71 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $5 billion in park and visitor spending, which supports nearly 54,000 jobs and over $2.8 billion in additional state GDP.

DEC manages 4.6 million acres of public lands, including three million acres in the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves, 55 campgrounds and day-use areas, more than 5,000 miles of formal trails, and hundreds of trailheads, boat launches, and fishing piers. Plan your next outdoor adventure and connect with us on Facebook (, Twitter (, Flickr ( and Instagram (