Buffalo District: The Past is Prologue
The Buffalo District traces its roots to Capt. Theodore Maurice, first assigned to the territory in 1824 to supervise federal engineer operations on Lake Erie.
The Corps improved several ports following the first Rivers and Harbors Act in 1824 with Erie Harbor in Pennsylvania the first to benefit. Before the end of the decade the ports of Buffalo, Dunkirk, Fairport, Huron and Lorain on Lake Erie and the ports of Rochester, Great Sodus Bay and Oswego on Lake Ontario were improved.
During the early years, engineer officers assigned to the Great Lakes were supervised from West Point. The first permanent Corps office opened in Buffalo in 1857. Today, the Buffalo District covers 38,000 square miles from Massena, New York, to Toledo, Ohio. It encompasses the U.S. drainage basins for both lower Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, and a significant portion of the Nation's industrial heartland. There are approximately 280 employees in the District, which includes six field offices.
The district program totals approximately $80 to $100 million annually, with half going toward the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Plan. This program was initiated in 1974 to identify, investigate and clean-up or control sites throughout the country that were contaminated as a result of the nation’s early atomic energy program. A significant portion of the district’s budget, approximately 25 percent, is used for maintenance of Great Lakes ports, including 100 miles of federal navigation channels and 38 miles of dikes and breakwaters. Buffalo District was also responsible for the design and construction of the U.S. portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway, including the Eisenhower and Snell locks. The Buffalo District operates and maintains Mount Morris Dam and the William B. Hoyt II Visitor Center. The District completed construction of the dam, the largest concrete gravity dam east of the Mississippi River, in 1952. Since that time, it has prevented over a billion dollars of flood damages to the city of Rochester.
District employees plan, design, construct, and operate water resource projects to maintain navigation, flood and storm damage reduction, stream bank and shoreline protection and ecosystem restoration. Our substantial expertise in water resource management supports ongoing programs related to wetland planning and management, water quality, and water supply. The Buffalo District also has regulatory authority over work impacting navigable waters and discharge of fill material into waters of the United States, including wetlands. The Buffalo District partners with other federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service.