Nature Preserve Protects Habitat
for Birds and Wildlife
Stella Niagara Park, located just north of Niagara Falls, was purchased and converted into a publicly accessible nature preserve by removing invasive plants and developing a trail system, restoring wildlife habitat and enhancing outdoor recreation.
The Stella Niagara Park is the largest undeveloped, privately owned property along the Niagara River. The 29-acre site boasts incredible habitat diversity, with open meadows, forests, vernal pools, and over a quarter of a mile of shoreline habitat. This ecological diversity supports numerous threatened species, including the bald eagle and lake sturgeon, and its shallow shoals provide significant habitat for larval smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and rock bass. Habitat loss is a big issue around the Niagara River, which makes protecting this rare undeveloped stretch a priority.
Thanks to a fundraising campaign that includes a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Western New York Land Conservancy was able to purchase this property and convert it into a publicly accessible nature preserve. Following community engagement efforts to identify the priorities of local residents and stakeholders, the New York land conservancy hired an ecological landscape designer to develop a habitat restoration plan. Workers removed invasive plants such as Phragmites, spotted knapweed, and black locust, and restored native plants. Workers then greatly expanded on an existing trail system to provide access to scenic views and a natural kayak launch on the Niagara River.
Resource Challenges Addressed
- Lack of native habitat
- Invasive species
- Lack of outdoor recreation
STELLA NIAGARA LAND PRESERVATION
Location: Lewiston, N.Y.
Approximate cost: $3,270,000, including $300,000 provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Key partners: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Buffalo Niagara RiverKeeper, Niagara Greenway, New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Applied Ecological Services, and Sisters of St. Francis
Types of jobs created: Contractors, landscape architects, community engagement specialists, jobs supported by increased tourism and outdoor recreation at Niagara, foresters, interns, and general labor
Results and Accomplishments
The Western New York Land Conservancy has protected 29 acres of diverse habitat adjacent to the Niagara River, addressing one of the key problems facing the Niagara River Area of Concern. These actions have restored native habitat by removing invasive species and planting new grassland communities, restoring wetlands, converting a drainage ditch into a new sedge meadow, and planting numerous native tree species such as oaks, cedars, birches, and white pines. Expanding on an existing trail system has enhanced outdoor recreation by opening up new scenic areas to the public, providing access to a natural kayak launch, and increasing access for people with mobility impairments. Once their work is complete, the Conservancy envisions the Stella Niagara Preserve as being a new link in the Niagara River Greenway by protecting environmental and cultural resources and expanding public access to the river.