The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District awarded a $1.39 million contract, September 30, 2015 to Tidewater Inc. of Elkridge, Maryland in support of the Unity Island Aquatic and Riparian Invasive Species Management and Habitat Restoration Project for the removal of aquatic invasive species (AIS) from Unity Island, Buffalo, New York.
As part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), the Unity Island project will be a demonstration project conducted in coordination with the city of Buffalo and the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center. Methods used to control AIS will be monitored for a period of three years, before potentially being employed throughout the Great Lakes in coastal wetland environments similar to Unity Island.
The goal of this demonstration is to evaluate the efficacy of a number of invasive species removal methodologies. In particular we aim to test a hydraulic control method that could assist in combating invasive species and promoting native species succession. The hydraulic control method would allow for a unique passive approach to aquatic plant control. Combined with both mechanical and chemical/herbicide, the hydraulic control method may lead to significantly more efficient application protocols. Lastly, the project aims to promote the natural succession processes by selectively creating space for native species in submerged and emergent habitats.
"Unity Island is a treasure in WNY, featuring trails, excellent fishing locations, and access to the water," said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. "As we continue to develop the waterfront, it is vital that we protect our greatest resource - Lake Erie - from invasive species and ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy this beautiful spot for years to come."
"With this federal investment we continue the progress of promoting cleaner and healthier waterways in Western New York and test removal methods of invasive species which could serve as a model for other communities throughout the Great Lakes region," said U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force.
"We care about the health and well-being of Buffalo residents as well as the city's many waterways and wildlife," said City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. "The proposed invasive species removal and establishment of native shoreline plantings will not only create habitat for fish and birds, but will also allow for better flow of water through the system. I thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District for this investment and look forward to partnering with them to further improve the overall condition of Unity Island Park."
“The Unity Island AIS project has been developed as part of the efforts associated with the delisting of Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs) and to support ecosystem restoration projects where invasive species are of significant concern,” said Ken Podsiadlo, USACE Buffalo District project manager. “This project implements AIS control and management, constructs habitat restoration, and expands passage for fish and other aquatic species between the Niagara River and the inland waters of Unity Island.”
The project includes, implementing AIS control and management, introducing container-grown woody, shrub, and herbaceous native plant species, planting in-water submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), installing in-water fish attraction structures, planting in-channel SAV and installing fish attraction structures, and expand riparian and wetland buffers. A pump station for water circulation will be installed between the North Pond to the South Pond and then downstream from the South Pond, through the watercourse, and into Middle Pond. Culverts will be replaced and redesigned between North and Middle ponds and within the watercourse for improved hydraulics and fish passage ultimately creating conditions for low-flow fish passage.
Invasive species targeted for removal include common reed (Phragmites australis), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), and eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum).