Niagara Parks Prepares Upcoming Niagara River Shoreline Restoration Projects

News from Ontario’s Niagara Parks Commission

Posted February 19th, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Boyer’s Creek coastal wetland project to utilize recycled blue spruce from Queen Victoria Park holiday tree display

New project, as part of riparian zones initiative, uses felled ash trees to mimic the natural environment, creating instant small-scale fish habitat

Niagara Falls, Ontario – As part of delivering on Niagara Parks’ mandate as the environmental and cultural stewards of the Niagara River corridor, Niagara Parks will be undertaking another Niagara River coastal wetland restoration project at Boyer’s Creek, beginning the week of February 18, 2019 (weather-permitting).

A stretch of the Niagara River shoreline along the parkway on the Canadian side of the border

Niagara River Coastal Wetlands Restoration

Beginning in 2016, in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Environment and Climate Change Canada, Niagara Parks began a series of coastal wetlands restoration projects to reduce shoreline erosion and provide essential fish habitat at seven strategic locations in the Niagara River.

Niagara Parks initiated these steps, as it was determined that more than 75% of the original coastal wetlands in the Niagara River had been lost over time, removing fish nursery habitat from the ecosystem, thus severely impacting species such as Lake Sturgeon and Muskellunge.

To date, over 800 metres of Niagara River shoreline have been restored, utilizing ash trees that have succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer as well as recycled Christmas trees, which have been anchored into the river bed, slowing wave activity and creating calmer near shore habitat for fish populations to thrive. Past locations that have undergone coastal wetland restoration projects in the Niagara River include Ussher’s and Baker’s Creeks in 2017 and Gonder’s Flats in 2018.

Plans to reuse the tall Spruce tree that stood decorated near the Falls during the holiday season.

The Boyer’s Creek coastal wetland project is unique in that it will repurpose the stunning 30-foot tall blue spruce, which was decorated and displayed in Queen Victoria Park this past holiday season, as the anchoring material for the riverbed. This project is scheduled to begin the week of February 18, 2019 (weather-permitting) and is expected to be substantially completed by March 15, with final site remediation set to occur in the spring as required.

This work is completed during the winter months for a variety of reasons. Firstly, fish spawning limits the timing window to between July 1 and March 15 of any given year. During the winter, the shoreline and surrounding areas are typically frozen, which results in less environmental impacts by the heavy equipment required for this work. As well, conducting the projects in the winter reduces potential disruptions to visitors and parks maintenance operations.

Restoring Riparian Zones of the Niagara River

With financial support from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Great Lakes Protection Initiative, Niagara Parks has launched the Restoring Riparian Zones of the Niagara River project, with a goal of more than doubling the percentage of Niagara River shoreline covered with native vegetation.

Riparian zones, the areas where water meets land, are among the hardest-working parts of any ecosystem. Beyond providing food and shelter to fish and aquatic insects, riparian zones regulate water temperatures, resist erosion and mitigate the effects of both droughts and floods.

As part of this project, Niagara Parks will be exploring an additional method of creating shoreline habitat. Instead of removing and chipping fallen ash trees that have succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer, the new method will require Niagara Parks’ Forestry Team to cut trees down to the stump before anchoring the fallen tree to the remaining stump. This will allow the fallen tree to rest on the river bed, mimicking a naturally fallen tree and creating instant fish habitat. This project will be conducted at select locations along the Niagara River.

For more information about these projects and other environmental projects Niagara Parks is involved with, please visit niagaraparks.com/engage

About Niagara Parks – Since its establishment in 1885, Niagara Parks has remained a self-financed agency of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport, entrusted to preserve and protect the land surrounding Niagara Falls and the Niagara River. Today, Niagara Parks boasts gardens, a horticulture school, recreation, golf courses, restaurants, heritage and historic sites, gift shops and, of course, Niagara Falls. In short, natural landscapes, history, family fun, hiking, culinary delights, attractions and adventure.

For more information, please visit niagaraparks.com

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Twitter: @NiagaraParks
Blog: niagaraparks.com/blog
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