Wetland Restoration to Improve Fish

and Wildlife Populations

Removing invasive plants and restoring a 15-acre oxbow wetland on Buffalo Creek, a natural feature rarely found in urban stream, dramatically improved fish and wildlife populations in the creek. Those improvements will bolster the larger effort to restore the Buffalo River Area of Concern.

Description

In the 1950s, the oxbow wetland was cut off from Buffalo Creek as part of a flood control project designed to protect farmland. The alterations allowed Japanese knotweed and other invasive plants to colonize part of the oxbow, driving out native species and reducing habitat for several species of fish and wildlife. Restoring the oxbow was significant. It is the first major wetland in the Buffalo River system upstream from the river’s mouth at Lake Erie. The site supports several New York State “species in conservation need,” including red-headed woodpeckers and snapping turtles, as well as many wetland plant species. Protection and restoration of the Oxbow Wetland was an effort to return native plant and animal species to a 15-acre site located at an oxbow in the Buffalo Creek. It is part of a larger project to restore and protect 34 acres of floodplain and wetland habitat along Buffalo Creek, in the Town of West Seneca. The restored oxbow will play an important role in increasing fish and wildlife populations in the Buffalo River Area of Concern.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Lack of native habitat
  • Invasive species
  • Lack of habitat for rare and threatened species

OXBOW WETLAND RESTORATION

Oxbow of a river

Oxbows, like the one pictured here, form when rivers change their course. The urban oxbow near Buffalo, not pictured here, was restored for fish and wildlife. Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Results and Accomplishments

Work crews removed thousands of knotweed plants and other invasive species from 12,000 square feet of land on the oxbow and replanted several areas with native plants, greatly increasing species diversity on the site. The Riverkeeper organization facilitated the transfer and conservation easement on the original 14 acres from a private donor to the town of West Seneca and is currently working on a second land transfer that will protect a total of 30 acres in perpetuity. They also developed booklets that have prepared government officials and property owners better protect their stream corridors within the Buffalo River Watershed.