In times of physical distancing, the natural world can bring us comfort and peace. It is times like these that show us how our natural spaces are vital to the health of our community. The Buffalo River has seen a dramatic change throughout its history. From a marshy wetland to an active shipping channel- the river is an important part of our city’s industrial past. Industry had a huge impact on the river itself, and it took years of stewardship to bring the waterway to thriving community resource that it is today. Now, as we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it is important to reflect on what stewardship has looked like in the past, and what it might look like in the future.
People in Western New York are flocking to the natural places that bring them joy, and the Buffalo River is one of them. It helps us cope with these uncertain times to remember the good moments spent walking along Canalside, birding with friends at the Outer Harbor, or a sunny day paddling along the river. Those times would not have been possible if not for stewards who have protected and restored the river. Now, even in these times of social distancing, it is possible to continue that stewardship.
In 1989, a group of concerned citizens, scientists, and stakeholders, along with NYSDEC formed the Buffalo River Remedial Advisory Committee (RAC) to address issues within the Buffalo River Area of Concern (AOC). At the time, the Buffalo River was known for being declared “dead” in 1967. Their stewardship has helped bring the Buffalo River back to life!
The river continues to move from Rust to Blue® and now, the Buffalo River depends on you! Here are some ways that you can continue to be a steward so that our beautiful natural places will be there for us to enjoy when the time of social distancing is over, and for years to come.
- Plan a solo walk along the Buffalo Blueway: Use the trip planning tool to decide the places you’ll visit! https://buffaloblueway.com/plan-your-water-activities
- Join the Buffalo River Stewardship Series - Join Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Erie County, and the Buffalo River Remedial Advisory Committee for this virtual event, The History of Stewardship on the Buffalo River. We need community stewards to help us to look after the Buffalo River. Join us for a series of stewardship events – learn about emerging threats to the river and the ways that you can help! Register here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/vpAtd-yuqzgiuPxI90zKwHPl5HHk3-gy1g
- Practice Leave No Trace: Whether walking in a local park, or in your neighborhood, you can be a steward by practicing “leave no trace”! Learn more here: https://lnt.org/
- Visit the Natural Habitat Parks: Stay local and try visiting one of the Erie County Natural Habitat Parks! These parks are located along the Buffalo River and provide very important habitat for wildlife. Find the Erie County Park closest to you! https://erieny.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=73e8eb59099b4f518be63066bb8a9919
- Appreciate Wildlife: Viewing wildlife is a great solo activity. Share your wildlife sightings with us!
- While it’s a shame that we can’t get together in the spring for a group cleanup, there are plenty of #SoloSweep opportunities around WNY. #SoloSweep Check out our website for safety tips to get started! https://bnwaterkeeper.org/solo-sweep/
- Take a solo self-guided Buffalo Bike Tour: https://www.buffalobiketours.com/rentals
We are looking forward to being together back out on our wonderful waterways again soon!