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How do you rebuild an ecosystem on Unity Island? Use dredged Buffalo River sediment

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The City of Buffalo and United States Army Corps of Engineers are partnering to restore a wetland habitat on Unity Island, using sediment removed from the Buffalo River to help build it. Project leaders see it as a means to bring environmental improvement to both sites.

Representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers' Materials removed from the Buffalo River is being placed in the north pond on Unity Island.

"We're going to be taking 50,000 cubic yards of dredged sentiment from the Buffalo River and utilizing it here on Unity Island to help restore 10 acres of wetland habitat, providing an access for fish and wildlife to move freely between the Niagara River and isolated water bodies here on the island," said Lieutenant Colonel Adam Czekanski, the Army Corps of Engineers' Buffalo District Commander. 

The sediment, officials said, is not contaminated. 

"The fill material that's being brought to the park is clean fill," said Andy Rabb, deputy commissioner of the City of Buffalo's Public Works, Parks and Streets. "It's not contaminated material. There's been extensive testing that was done prior to this project even going out to bid."

The project also includes the removal or control of invasive aquatic plant species such as the Eurasian Water Milfoil. Andrew Hannes, an ecologist with the Army Corps of Engineers, said measures were taken earlier this year to deal with it.

"Earlier this summer we did a herbicide treatment for this species," he said while leading a tour of the project. "You can look out at the ponds now, you see very little growth of this species up to the water surface."

Rabb, Czekanski and Congressman Brian Higgins signed a partnership agreement as part of a Thursday news conference.

The Buffalo River is currently listed as one of the Environmental Protection Agency's areas of concern. The goal of this project is to help get the Buffalo River off that list.

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