Buffalo River Habitat Restoration Completed at Katherine Street

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has completed closeout of the habitat restoration along the Buffalo River near Katherine Street.

The $2.7 million project, funded by the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, was the final habitat restoration project required to complete management actions before delisting the Buffalo River Area of Concern.

“EPA is delighted to see the Katherine Street habitat restoration project come to completion. This successful project marks the last piece of the puzzle needed on the Buffalo River AOC. Ongoing environmental monitoring in the AOC will measure remediation and restoration progress to ultimately delist the AOC,” said Teresa Seidel, director of the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office.

Grasses and flowering plants make up the majority of a riverbank meadow vegetation community along the restored shoreline of the Buffalo River near Katherine Street in Buffalo, New York, Aug. 9, 2023. USACE PHOTO BY JANE CLARK

“The Buffalo River was once a scenic gem of our Western New York waterways, but for decades pollution bogged down and contaminated this ecosystem. Now, we are turning the tide on restoration for the river, and thanks to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and historic $1 billion included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the shoreline and waters along Katherine Street are almost unrecognizable from years ago, with new life from fish swimming to geese flocking to greenery thriving along the water’s edge,” said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “With this piece of the puzzle, the Buffalo River Area of Concern is significantly closer to being delisted, paving the way for a new chapter to begin for this jewel of Western New York. I thank the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers for their hard work on this project and promise I won’t stop fighting to bring federal dollars home to ensure future generations can fully enjoy the natural beauty of the waterways in Buffalo and beyond.”

Congressman Brian Higgins said, “The Katherine Street project marks a major milestone in a 37-year, multimillion-dollar federal commitment to clean up the Buffalo River. Thanks to the longstanding commitment of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District and the Environmental Protection Agency, along with community partners like Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, the Buffalo River has transformed from a pollution dumping ground set ablaze to a healthy, natural, recreation destination that contributes to Western New York’s economy and quality of life.”

“DEC applauds the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency for bringing this vital project to completion, which is a shining example of the economic power of environmental cleanup and habitat restoration in the Great Lakes region,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “The Katherine Street peninsula restoration efforts will return wildlife and environmental vibrancy to this portion of the Buffalo River shoreline and highlights the importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in stimulating public and private partnerships at all levels to achieve environmental and community protection.”

“This project is a prime example of what happens when federal, state, and local agencies collaborate to restore the environment and make a difference in our community,” said Lt. Col. Colby Krug, USACE Buffalo District commander. “We couldn’t have accomplished it without great partners in EPA, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Erie County, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, and the City of Buffalo, and support from our representatives in Congress.”

“Messer is proud to have been involved in this project due to our Buffalo air separation unit’s location on Katherine Street. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with various agencies and contribute to this project that benefits the local community. As Messer takes over maintenance activities for the project, we are committed to sustaining its long-term, positive environmental impacts,” said Brian Kenney, Executive Vice President of Operations for U.S. and Canada at Messer, a leading supplier of industrial gases and owner of the restored property.