Restoring Niagara's Fish Habitat
THOMAS J. PROHASKA
NEWFANE - Work will begin in July on the first step in
the restoration of the fish habitat in Eighteenmile Creek.
Eric P. Krueger said town Highway Department crews will
start work on the construction of a staircase from the
parking lot at Fisherman's Park in Burt to the creek bank
near the Burt Dam.
County environmental planner Edmund P. Sullivan said the
state Department of Environmental Conservation has committed
to working on the habitat restoration itself.
the DEC sent an official named Pat Cherry to a meeting
set up June 11 by County Legislator James W. Ward, R-Newfane.
done this stuff repeatedly," Sullivan said of Cherry.
"He has a lot of expertise. Getting him is very important
to the project."
with planning for the habitat work are Greg Tessman of
the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Mark Seidor of
the county Soil and Water Conservation District, according
thing is a partnership," said Ward. "We tried
to start this process three or four years ago. We're proud
of the bipartisan support for this watershed which has
a big effect on the eastern part of the county."
The creek runs
north from Lockport into Lake Ontario. Its watershed has
been named by the International Joint Commission as one
of its areas of concern in the Great Lakes.
Ward said it's
up to the DEC how the underwater diverters of the creek
current are to be designed to enhance spawning grounds
for trout and salmon, and whether fish ladders should
be installed at the Burt Dam.
The cost of the
plan is estimated at $894,500, with the county fronting
$452,500 for eventual reimbursement by the state and federal
governments. The county kicked in $75,000 from its tobacco
Chairman Bradley E. Erck said, "We leveraged about
seven to one on this thing."
The county also
obtained state and federal grants; contributions from
outside groups such as Trout Unlimited and the Seaway
Trail Association, and agencies ranging from the Soil
and Water Conservation District to the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers; and help from the Town of Newfane.
the staircase is part of a $50,000 commitment of cash
and services by the town.
probably not going to do any remediation until the first
of the year," Krueger said. "They've got some
engineering to do."
The work area
will extend one mile north of the Burt Dam.
Ward said that
in the prime fishing season, "There's anywhere from
500 to 800 people a day who fish that mile below the dam.
That fishery has such a big economic impact."