Niagara Gazette

May 27, 2013

Going to the birds: Restoration work under way at Joseph Davis State Park

Special to the Gazette
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A landmark habitat restoration project continues at Joseph Davis State Park in Lewiston. Supported by more than $350,000 in grant funds from federal programs and national funders, the work is providing high-quality habitat for resident and neo-tropical migratory birds.

With its natural shoreline along the Niagara River and diverse terrestrial habitats, Joseph Davis State Park has long been identified as a key target for preservation and management. The 320-acre park stands out as one of the few large, relatively undeveloped open spaces along an otherwise extensively developed river corridor. Its undeveloped nature and locations along an established migratory corridor between Lakes Erie and Ontario also make the park stand out as an important stopover habitat for migrating birds seeking a place to feed and rest.

“It is a stopping point for birds as they fly from their winter habitats in Central and South America to their nesting grounds in the northern hemisphere,” explained Loren Smith, executive director of the Buffalo Audubon Society. Birds that like shrub by habitats such as American Woodcock, Willow Flycatcher, and Blue-winged Warbler depend upon the habitats found at the park as they feed, breed, and migrate across the Americas.

The current project will:

• Enhance and protect approximately 130 acres of critical shrubland and wetland bird habitat along the lower Niagara River Corridor and restore sensitive bird habitat that further improve the ability of the Corridor to attract resident and migratory bird populations

• Enhance and perpetuate the site as a Bird Conservation Area by providing habitats for breeding, shelter, migration, and sustenance of resident and neo-tropical migratory wild bird populations

• Implement an invasive species control and management plan based on site surveys and mapping

• Benefit priority bird species by improving forested wetland, shrub-wetland and shrub-early successional habitats

The first phase of the project involves the removal of invasive plant species including Honeysuckle, Common Reed (Phragmites), and Buckthorn, along with the selective removal of younger trees to promote the development of valuable shrub habitat. Subsequent work will plant native shrubs and grasses in order to provide high-quality food, nest sites, and habitat for birds.

Neighbors, visitors, and community members should be aware that initial phase of this project will involve the removal of invasive species from large areas within the eastern portion of the park. This will be followed by over-seeding with native grasses before native shrub species are planted in the fall. Work on the project will be halted from June 1 through July 15 to correspond with the primary breeding season of shrubland bird species.

Initial mapping of plant communities, invasive species, and the development of the habitat restoration plan was supported by a generous $195,550 grant from the Niagara River Greenway Ecological Standing Committee to the Buffalo Audubon Society. Subsequent funding for invasive species removal and habitat restoration comes from two sources: $197,585 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Sustain our Great Lakes Stewardship Grants program and $160,031 from the United States Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service Joint Venture Habitat Restoration and Protection program — part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

For more information, contact Chuck Bartlett, Ecological Projects Manager, Buffalo Audubon Society. 1610 Welch Road, North Java NY 14113. 585-457-3228, or bartlett@buffaloaudubon.org.